It wasn’t too long ago that both of these sides were regularly challenging for the top six although now it appears as though expectations have lowered slightly. Sheffield United made the rash decision to sack Kevin Blackwell just two league games into the season and successor Gary Speed is now charged with lifting the Blades from the foot of the table and into the top half. Similarly, Preston haven’t enjoyed the best of starts and Darren Ferguson will be looking to improve his sides points tally of three.
This campaign was always going to be a tough one for Sheffield United considering their parachute payments have now stopped. It meant that the club had to be a lot more stringent in the transfer market and that was perhaps something that Kevin Blackwell struggled to deal with. He was given his marching orders just two games into the season and replacing him was former Wales midfielder Gary Speed. Speed’s first task was arguably the toughest he’ll face all season, with the Blades travelling to the Riverside Stadium to take on Middlesbrough. While they ended up losing that one 1-0, they still put up a good account of themselves and Speed will have been encouraged by the signs of his new team.
Darren Ferguson has attempted something of a rebuilding job with his Preston side and with that, you can forgive the Lilywhites for taking time to gel. Having lost their first two league games, one of which was a 4-0 defeat to Swansea, things have improved in recent weeks and Ferguson’s men managed to see off Portsmouth in their last outing. However, one thing that will be bothering the Deepdale supremo is the club’s dreadful record on the road. Preston have not won in ten away games in a record stretching back to last season and this is something that must change if the club are going to improve.
Sheffield United’s team news focuses on their defence where Gary Speed could hand out two debuts. Stephen Jordan joined the club a few weeks ago but has only now recovered from a calf strain and could be given a start. Elsewhere, after signing for the club at the start of the week fellow defender Jean Calve may also be given a starting place. Similarly, the visitors’ team news is based on defenders. Despite being taken off midway through their game against Bradford, Sean St Ledger should feature in this one. However, former Leicester man Wayne Brown is doubtful due to a calf problem.
In terms of a prediction, we think Sheffield United are clear favourites and will net a comfortable victory here. Preston’s away form is dismal and with a new manager watching, we think the Blades will impress. 2-0, home win.