– Blackburn sit third in the Championship and are on a six-match winning run on home soil
– Preston were watertight early in the season but have become more expansive in recent games
– Recommended bet: Back Blackburn to win
After a month out of action, Blackburn and Preston make their Championship returns in a Lancashire derby and both sets of supporters will be desperate to get their 2022-23 campaign back up and running with a victory over their local rivals.
Both have realistic promotion ambitions, with Blackburn going into the World Cup break in third position and Preston ninth but level on points with the play-off places.
However, Rovers fans will be hoping that a combination of home advantage, their encouraging pre-break form and a proud recent record in this derby will come together to get part two of their Championship campaign off to a flying start.
Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson is without left-sided defender Harry Pickering, who picked up an injury after Rovers’ warm weather training match against Ajax, and 21-year-old striker Jake Vale, who has a calf problem that will rule him out for a couple of weeks.
Youngsters Jake Batty and Sam Barnes are long-term absentees with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.
Preston manager Ryan Lowe expects to have key midfielder Ben Whiteman back from a thigh injury he picked up at the start of November.
However, striker Troy Parrott remains out with a hamstring injury that has sidelined the Tottenham loanee since early October.
Blackburn have enjoyed the better of their recent engagements with Preston, winning three of the last four Championship meetings over the past two seasons.
However, their 1-0 home victory over North End last term was the first time that Preston had lost in their last six trips to Ewood Park – with the visitors winning three of those.
Blackburn will be confident of avoiding a slip back into old habits this weekend, though, as they have an impressive home record in the Championship, winning eight of ten matches in front of their own supporters.
Preston have a decent away record but their last four road trips have seen North End lose to 18th-placed Bristol City and second-bottom Blackpool. Their two wins in that run came at bottom side Huddersfield and at mid-table Reading.
These Lancashire rivals boast two of the better defensive records in the second tier, with Preston conceding just 20 goals in 21 games and Rovers shipping 22.
However, before rushing in to back a low-scoring game – which the markets are shaped towards – it is worth noting that Lowe’s tactical switch from 3-1-4-2 to either a 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-3 transformed Preston’s results in the final weeks before the World Cup break.
Removing a deep-lying midfielder to add an extra forward-thinking player has had a dramatic effect. While Preston’s first 12 league games saw a total of just eight goals – a run that included six 0-0 draws, four matches featuring one goal and none producing more than two – their nine matches after the formation switch featured 30 goals at an average of 3.33 goals per game.
Bet Builder players would be wise to embrace over 2.5 goals as Preston are still priced up on an outdated reading of their approach, while Blackburn have scored two or more in six of their last seven home games – and there have been nine over 2.5 results in the last 12 renewals of this derby.
However, a straight bet on Blackburn – available at 6/5 with LiveScore Bet – looks the best approach. Tomasson’s men have won their last six home games and face a Preston side who have conceded two goals or more in five of their nine matches since switching formations.
Qatar 2022 Squads: They Score, You Score!
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