Preston v Newcastle, Championship, November 23, 2009
As is often the way with Newcastle this season, assessing the Magpies’ chances at Deepdale on Monday night requires a separation of the off-the-field shambles which has dogged the tenure of Mike Ashley, and the on-the-field results secured by burgeoning Black and Whites’ manager, Chris Houghton.
Putting their sale/non-sale and subsequent awful renaming of St. James’ Park to one side, Newcastle presently sit atop of the Championship after a strong start to the campaign. While twenty of their thirty-three points have been achieved at home, on the road the Toon have won half of their eight away matches, and they’ll be looking to improve on that record at Preston. The Magpies won their last road trip at Sheffield United, although that was through an own goal and Hughton will be demanding more of his strikers.
Andy Carroll (6/1 to score first), who spent half a season on loan to PNE in season 2007/8, will be looking to forget about his shocking miss for England U21s last week by continuing his rich vein of club form. The 20-year-old looks to have a promising future and has scored in two of his last three matches. Elsewhere, Toon boss Hughton appears to have a luxury of attacking options for his frontline, with Shola Ameobi due back from injury, Nile Ranger (16/1 to score a brace) and on-loan Marlon Harewood (15/8 to score) all available for selection, while Peter Lovenkrands (11/4 to score) is also itching for his opportunity to shine since rejoining on a free transfer on deadline day in August.
Arguably, the key to Newcastle’s success has been the form of their experienced midfield trio of Kevin Nolan (11/1 to score first & Newcastle win), Nicky Butt and Alan Smith. Nolan, in particular, is currently the teamâ€™s top scorer with eight goals, which included a hat-trick at Ipswich back in September.
Preston have slumped a little in recent weeks, failing to win their last three matches and losing last time out at Watford. But, having only lost once at Deepdale this season, the Lilywhites will be hopeful they can add to their tally with the visit of the Tynesiders.
Alan Irvine has made sure his squad have done hard yards after their latest setback and Neil Mellor (19/2 to score first & Preston win) will be looking to add to his tally of seven goals for the season. Jon Parkin (2/1 to score), with five goal this season, will also be a threat, while Michael Tonge could be in line for a debut after the 26-year-old Stoke midfielder moved on loan until the end of the calendar year.
Considering that five of Newcastleâ€™s eight away matches have resulted in two goals or less, then the 15/4 that this happens on Monday with the Magpies emerging victorious looks to be a value bet.
101predicts: Preston 0 – Newcastle 1 (6/1)
Full match odds here.