Saturday morning brings you a gorgeous clash in a generation gap of footballing thought.
On one hand, you have a home side who absolutely batter you with high-intensity out of complete fear of their eccentric manager – and an away side who need the ball to function as they build up slowly under a gaffer who’s read ‘The Mixer’ by Michael Cox far too many times for his fellow UEFA Pro License graduates’ liking.
The one thing this is guaranteed to be is open.
These are my favourite kinds of managerial appointments. The ones where everyone is overwhelmed by the man in question, only to slowly come around when results keep coming in the beginning.
They’ll stand by him over anything, in the face of doom-tellers pointing out that his methods aren’t sustainable long-term.
Neil Harris has done a stunning job with Cardiff City to this point, but yes, like all good things, sooner rather than later we’ll all realise that his style of management works up until the point where the results dry up.
Thankfully for Cardiff City, I’m not sure that point in time has arrived yet as Preston North End just do not seem capable of putting in a performance of any credibility away from home.
While being third in the division, Preston are there solely on their home form, which is the best in the league. Away from Deepdale, PNE can boast just eight points and six goals scored in ten outings.
Think about the dynamic of this game of football for a second.
Cardiff get the ball in a wide position, signal their big man into the box and push on their two central midfielders to compete for second balls.
There’s a goalscoring chance every 30 seconds in their games, as witnessed in their 3-3 draw at Elland Road last time out.
I suspect Preston will adjust their approach in this one, too – opting instead to break from deep after negotiating the Cardiff runners off the ball in the second phases of play.
There won’t be a midfield touch until sometime in the second half after both Alex Neil and Neil Harris have been checked for irregular heartbeats.
If there’s anyone in this Cardiff that is both clever enough to time runs to pick up second balls, it’s Lee Tomlin.
After Preston fail to fully clear, you just know Tomlin’s nipped away from his centre half and gotten a yard of space.
His partnership with Danny Ward has been working wonders and fresh off his gorgeous assist against Leeds, I can feel a stunning half volley coming in his very near future.
A £/€1 treble on these three selections returns £/€12.10 including stake on pp.com. Odds correct at time of posting, subject to change.