Preston are back at Deepdale for a home double-header this week, first taking on Rotherham United this evening.
Preston North End vs. Rotherham United
Championship | Deepdale
August 16th 2022 | 7:45pm (UK)
After two away trips to Huddersfield Town and Luton Town, Preston are back at home tonight.
Those two away trips brought two wins, first in the Carabao Cup and then in the Championship.
The challenge for Ryan Lowe and his players tonight will be to pick up the first home win of the campaign.
Watford are coming up this weekend but the focus is squarely on Rotherham right now, with the Millers in high spirits…
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1. Who will North End be facing tonight?
Rotherham hammered Reading 4-0 on Saturday afternoon and it’s hard to imagine Paul Warne making many changes tonight.
That would see Viktor Johansson start in goal in a 3-5-2 system somewhat similar to Ryan Lowe’s approach with Preston.
Grant Hall, Richard Wood and Cameron Humphreys have formed the back three for Rotherham, with Wes Harding and Shane Ferguson as wing backs.
Daniel Barlaser sits in a holding midfield role with Jamie Lindsay and Ben Wiles given freedom to go forward.
Chiedozie Ogbene played up front with Conor Washington against Reading and we would expect the same again tonight.
Possible Rotherham XI: Johansson; Hall, Wood, Humphreys; Harding, Lindsay, Barlaser, Wiles, Ferguson; Ogbene, Washington.
2. Will Alvaro Fernandez be fit to play?
Left wing back Fernandez dazzled fans with two assists in his first start for Preston against Huddersfield Town last week, but picked up an injury and was substituted at half time.
Ryan Lowe indicated that it wasn’t a big problem and that Fernandez would likely be fine by Thursday or Friday, but he wasn’t involved against Luton.
The Spaniard was at least spotted with the Preston squad for the trip down to Kenilworth Road.
Lowe hasn’t given much away about Fernandez in recent days and we would expect him to be on the bench at best this evening, barring a very quick turnaround in his status.
3. Predicted Preston lineup
Lowe went with a 3-4-2-1 at Luton, playing Troy Parrott as a lone striker with midfield support from Alan Browne and Ali McCann.
After such a positive win, there will be a temptation to go with the same again but Preston may need more attacking impetus at home.
Freddie Woodman will almost certainly be in goal for Preston tonight unless there is a late problem we don’t know about!
The back three looks pretty settled right now with Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay and Andrew Hughes starting.
Brad Potts should start at right wing back after his stunning goal against Luton whilst the question marks over Fernandez mean Robbie Brady may need to start again at left wing back.
Ben Whiteman is key to Preston’s midfield and will likely start again, with Browne and McCann pushing on to support Parrott and Emil Riis.
That means Ryan Ledson missing out, which is a tough call but a midfielder would have to be sacrificed to get striker Riis back into the team.
Ched Evans returns from suspension tonight and should feature from the bench alongside the likes of Daniel Johnson and Ben Woodburn.
Predicted Preston lineup: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Potts, Browne, Whiteman, McCann, Brady; Parrott, Riis.
Predicted Preston substitutes: Cornell, Bauer, Fernandez, Ledson, Johnson, Woodburn, Evans.
4. A foot in both camps
A number of players have turned out for both Rotherham and Preston over the years.
Chris Sedgwick, Darnell Fisher, Daniel Iversen and Ben Pringle spring to mind, but there is only one player in the current squads of both teams to have featured on the two sides.
Right back Matthew Olosunde joined Preston from Rotherham on a free transfer last summer, but his time at North End has been a disaster.
Injuries limited Olosunde to just one appearance in 2021 for Preston, and after substitute appearance at Swansea City in January, Olosunde was left out of Lowe’s squad.
Now transfer-listed and with pretty much no way back as things stand, Olosunde will actually miss the chance to face his former club tonight.
5. How have Preston fared against Rotherham?
Preston were formed back in 1880 and Rotherham arrived on the scene in 1925, yet there was no meeting between the two teams until 1961 – and then they couldn’t stop facing each other!
North End and Rotherham met 16 times between October 1961 and December 1967, becoming familiar foes after so long apart.
Preston’s record against the Millers isn’t too favourable; North End have won just 16 of the 60 meetings between the two sides, losing 22 and drawing 22.
Recent history isn’t great either; Preston are winless in five against Rotherham and have lost the last three meetings, all to a 2-1 scoreline.
Preston’s last win against Rotherham came back in November 2016 as Aiden McGeady ran riot in a fine 3-1 victory for the Lilywhites.
6. What has Ryan Lowe said?
Lowe is expecting a very tough night based on his comments given to North End’s official website.
Lowe praised the work of counterpart Paul Warne during his time in charge of Rotherham, and believes the Millers deserve major respect.
The North End boss is looking to focus on Preston though and is hoping for three points tonight.
“Paul Warne’s team is going to be very confident after that. They’re going to think they can go anywhere and win, and rightly so when you win a game of football like that,” said Lowe.
“All we’ve got to do is we’ve got to worry about us. We’ll show Rotherham the respect they deserve, and obviously they’ve come up and they’ll be fighting to stay up there. I think Paul Warne has done a fantastic job over the years he’s been at Rotherham.”
“We know we’re going to be in for a tough night so it’s what we do on the pitch that leads us to hopefully trying to get more points,” he added.
7. Who is Paul Warne?
Warne, 49, was born in Norwich and spent his early days in the non-league scene around Norfolk but has a long-standing relationship with Rotherham.
Great Yarmouth Town, Diss Town and Wroxham are hardly glamorous but they put Warne on the path to becoming a Rotherham icon as he joined the Milers from Wigan Athletic in 1999.
Warne racked up more than 250 appearances in red and white before leaving for Oldham Athletic in 2005.
A return to Rotherham materialised in 2009 though, enabling Warne to see out his playing days with the club before immediately heading into coaching in 2012.
Warne became Rotherham’s caretaker boss in 2016 following Kenny Jackett’s abrupt departure and then landed the job permanently in early 2017.
Now approaching 300 games in charge of Rotherham, Warne has overseen two promotion campaigns and won the EFL Trophy, establishing himself as a hero off the pitch as well as on it.
8. What has Paul Warne said?
Millers boss Warne has paid North End some big compliments ahead of the game whilst speaking to Rotherham’s official website.
Warne noted that Preston are faring well for chances created and pressing whilst praising North End’s ability to keep the ball.
Yet after a 4-0 win at the weekend, Warne is going into the game with confidence and believes Rotherham can pick up a positive result tonight.
“I think they’re top of the league for the most chances created and the best pressing, and they’re very good at keeping the ball,” said Warne. “We’ve had success at their place before but you can’t use that because it was a completely different team.”
“I am going into the game with a real confidence from the group. It’s an away fixture and if you’re going to have a successful season in the Championship you have to pick points up away from home – and there’s no reason why, if we play at our absolute best, we can compete and maybe come away with something,” he added.
9. Another Preston flag display
Preston’s only home game so far this season came against Hull City, and North End fans put on a great display of flags on the Alan Kelly Town End.
The same will be happening once again tonight as Preston supporters attempt to boost the matchday atmosphere.
The Bill Shankly Kop will be open for home fans tonight though and PNE Online have noted that flags will be available there too.
10. Who is the referee?
Oliver Langford has been assigned as the referee for tonight’s game.
Langford refereed 22 Championship games last season but, curiously, none of them involved Preston.
You have to go back to March 2021 for Langford’s last game in charge involving Preston, which ended in a 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough.
That game involved a controversial red card for Alan Browne following a clash with Sam Morsy.
Langford was also in charge of Preston v West Bromwich Albion in December 2019, when he gave a penalty for a clear dive by Kyle Edwards in injury time.
Charlie Austin stepped up to score, leaving Preston fans absolutely furious – and North End supporters will be hoping for better from Langford tonight.