Preston have endured a mixed start to the season and the next six games will tell us an awful lot about where North End are heading.
If you have told North End fans six weeks ago that Ryan Lowe’s side would concede just one goal in the first eight games, they would be running down Church Street in celebration.
That’s how Preston’s season has panned out; one goal conceded in just eight games has given North End the most miserly defence in England.
Yet it’s not all sunshine and roses at Deepdale for many reasons, but mostly because of the lack of goals at the other end.
Lowe’s men have scored just two goals in those eight games. Yes, that’s just three goals total across the eight games to open the season.
North End are currently scoring an average of one goal every four games. That simply cannot continue if Preston have aspirations of challenging the top six.
MORE PRESTON STORIES
If you look at the table, the wider picture doesn’t look all that bad; two points off the top six, five points off the top two.
Yet Preston have faced two promoted sides, as well as three clubs North End finished above in the Championship table last season.
The win at Luton Town was fantastic after their top six finish last season and on another day, Preston could have beaten relegated Watford at Deepdale.
Two goals and two just two wins out of the opening eight games just doesn’t feel like enough, especially with a tough run coming up.
Preston head to Bristol City this weekend, a team flying at the moment in fourth place with four wins in the last five and 16 goals in in their eight games – a full 14 more than North End.
Then it’s a local derby with Burnley next Tuesday. The Clarets are just one spot below Bristol City and have still racked up 14 goals in eight outings, possessing some top quality in Vincent Kompany’s squad.
Just four days later, Preston take on Sheffield United. At the time of writing, the Blades are top of the Championship table with just one defeat – as well as 16 goals scored – in their opening eight.
A trip to Sunderland comes next, which is never an easy place to go and new boss Tony Mowbray will be looking to build some momentum.
It’s then back to Deepdale to take on West Bromwich Albion on October 5th, and whilst Steve Bruce’s men haven’t been firing on all cylinders this season, they still have high-end Championship players who can cause real problems.
This batch of eight games ends with a trip to Norwich City, who sit second right now and are flying with five wins in a row.
We know Ryan Lowe won’t fear anybody, but those six games look daunting for a team with no home wins and just two league goals scored all season.
This promises to be a much sterner test than the opening eight games and Preston will need to start finding the net whilst still keeping the back door closed if they are to turn a strange and mixed start into a great one.
Can this team really mix it with the big boys of the Championship, or are serious top six hopes just a pipe dream again? We’re about to find out…