Preston North End and Watford will both fight to continue their unbeaten starts to the Championship season on Saturday, when they do battle at Deepdale.
The visitors have won two and drawn two of their opening four games after dropping to England’s second tier, while their hosts are two points worse off having played out their third draw of the campaign on Tuesday.
Beginning their first full season under the management of Ryan Lowe, Preston North End have made a relatively positive start to the Championship campaign, as they remain unbeaten after four games with their defensive record being a highlight as they are the only side in England’s second tier yet to concede a league goal.
Their term began with a trip to Lancashire rivals Wigan Athletic, with the game finishing as a goalless stalemate, before points were shared in another 0-0 draw at home to Hull City.
Lowe’s side would then find their shooting boots in an EFL Cup first-round clash with Huddersfield Town, eventually winning 4-1 thanks to Ali McCann‘s brace and goals from Troy Parrott and Brad Potts.
Potts was the hero in their contest away at Luton Town at the weekend, as he netted the only goal to see Preston leave Kenilworth Road with their first three-point haul of the season.
Now on the back of a goalless draw at home to Rotherham United on Tuesday, Lowe’s men will look to build on their solid start at the weekend but face a tough test against a fellow unbeaten side in newly-relegated Watford.
After the appointment of Rob Edwards over the summer, the Hornets set out to earn promotion straight back to the Premier League, and they made a winning start at home to Sheffield United as Joao Pedro hit the only goal of the game in the second half.
They then played out a 1-1 draw away at fellow promotion-hopefuls West Bromwich Albion, with Ismaila Sarr failing to net a winner from the penalty spot after his eye-catching opener from inside the Watford half, before Edwards’s side made a return to winning ways against Burnley.
In their second 1-0 triumph at Vicarage Road of the season, Tom Cleverley‘s goal proved to be decisive, with the Hornets standing strong against a late flurry of chances after Hassane Kamara‘s red card to take all three points.
Hoping to make it three victories from their opening four games, Watford travelled to Birmingham City on Tuesday, but they were only able to take a point thanks to Rey Manaj‘s second-half equaliser, after George Hall had put their hosts ahead.
Having maintained an unbeaten record thus far, Edwards’s men will go in search of a third win of the season on Saturday as they look to establish themselves at the top end of the division from the outset.
Preston North End are unable to call on centre-back Bambo Diaby and key midfielder Daniel Johnson on Saturday, as both are dealing with injuries.
Without the latter, who was forced off against Rotherham, Ben Whiteman, Alan Browne, and Ryan Ledson should again play key roles in the central unit, with Brad Potts offering additional threat from out wide.
Key forward Emil Riis Jakobsen was reduced to a substitute appearance last time out, and, despite links away from the club, he should come back in to lead the line after hitting 16 league goals last season.
Watford have several injury issues to contend with, as Imran Louza remains out of action while Tom Cleverley and Ismaila Sarr are both doubts after missing the Birmingham contest.
Joao Pedro should keep his place in attack, while Rey Manaj will hope that his goal off the bench last time out is enough to earn him a place in the starting XI, with Keinan Davis also vying to come in from the outset, having earned his first minutes in that game following a loan switch from Aston Villa.
In the likely absence of Cleverley, Edo Kayembe should again be partnered by Leicester City loanee Hamza Choudhury in the engine room, with Craig Cathcart, Francisco Sierralta and Christian Kabasele set to line up as a back three in front of Daniel Bachmann.
Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Woodman; Storey, Lindsey, Hughes; Potts, Whiteman, Browne, Ledson, Brady; Riis, Parrott
Watford possible starting lineup:
Bachmann; Cathcart, Sierralta, Kabasele; Gaspar, Choudhury, Kayembe, Sema; Pedro, Davis, Manaj