The facts for Preston fans are grim. North End have been rooted to the bottom of the Championship table since the middle of November, and will remain there even with victory over Leicester. The Championship’s longest serving club are in serious danger of exiting the division in entirely the wrong direction. Since the turn of the century only one side (Doncaster Rovers) has successfully lifted itself out of the drop zone at the end of the season having spent Christmas bottom of the pile.
When these sides met in October, Preston were one point and one place above Leicester City. Since then the Lilywhites have won just once, taking a total of six points from a possible 30. In the face of such a slump it was no surprise to see Darren Ferguson depart, but the introduction of Phil Brown (no stranger to collapses in form himself) perhaps was. At Hull City, Brown lost a staggering 30 of his final 50 league matches in charge of the Tigers. Perhaps a change of scenery will do the trick, but Brown will have to do it without the help of loans from Manchester United and Stoke. In all probability his task is next to impossible.
This will be Leicester’s second chance of the season to complete a league double having missed such an opportunity at home to Leeds United on Boxing Day. They will arrive at Deepdale in the knowledge that the hosts have the 2nd worst home record in the division, an attack which has registered just four times in the last six league games and a defence which has conceded more goals this season (45) than QPR and Reading combined.
If Leicester assert themselves on the game quickly, as they have so far this year, then the game could be settled by half-time. Sol Bamba opened his Leicester account after just 45 seconds last week to become the clubs fastest scoring debutant. He was also the first to score on his debut since Martyn Waghorn and Dany N’Guessan did the business against Swansea on the opening day of the 2009/10 campaign. Up against a defence like Preston’s the chances of a goal-hungry Yakubu scoring in his first game must be reasonably good.
Preston have lost an infuriating nine matches by a single goal this season, more than any other Championship club. Leicester fans would surely take a third successive one-goal winning margin to continue their 100% league start to 2011. Andy King’s goal was enough for Leicester to seal their playoff spot here last year, the Foxes could make a real statement of their playoff credentials with a similar win on Saturday.