Preview: Preston North End vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur’s quest for a first trophy in over 15 years continues with a trip to Deepdale on Saturday evening, as Preston North End lie in wait for the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The hosts defeated Huddersfield 3-1 to book their spot in round four, while Spurs edged past Portsmouth 1-0 in North London earlier this month.
A leaky defence is still bedevilling Ryan Lowe’s Preston North End side, but three wins from four in all tournaments has been an ideal way to open 2023, and the Deepdale outfit proved too strong for fellow Championship side Huddersfield Town in the third round of the FA Cup.
Florian Kamberi gave the Terriers the lead just before the hour mark, but strikes from Tom Lees, Bambo Diaby and Alan Browne turned the game on its head before they were brought crashing back down to earth with a 4-0 home defeat to Norwich City.
Lowe’s side returned to winning ways last weekend with a 2-1 success over Birmingham City at St Andrew’s, though, as Browne and Ryan Ledson both made the net ripple inside the opening 15 minutes before a late consolation from Lukas Jutkiewicz.
A playoff charge is certainly not out of the question for 11th-placed Preston, who are only two points off the top six in the tightly-congested Championship table, and the two-time FA Cup champions now endeavour to seal a fifth-round berth for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign, where they lost to Manchester United.
It is not the hosts’ form at Deepdale that has them in with a shot of a playoff place, though, as they have won just four games in front of their own fans all season long, and defeat to Norwich was their fourth Championship loss on the bounce at home.
Unlike the entertaining four-goal spectacle that occurred at Deepdale in the third round, Tottenham’s clash versus League One side Portsmouth was a much more low-key affair, but the Lilywhites’ trustworthy talisman would produce one moment of brilliance to settle the contest.
Harry Kane thumped home a delightful winner to send Tottenham into round four, and the England captain produced another sublime strike in Monday’s 1-0 success over Fulham, which cemented his name in another page of the Lilywhites’ record books.
Now level with Tottenham’s all-time top goalscorer Jimmy Greaves on 266 strikes, Kane will have the record in his sights at Deepdale, as the eight-time FA Cup champions aim to end a fifth-round hoodoo that has bedevilled them in recent seasons.
Indeed, Spurs have been knocked out in the fifth round of the FA Cup in the past three editions – the most recent of which was to a lower-tier side in Middlesbrough last season – and their last two FA Cup eliminations have both come away from home.
Familiar foes in the early years of the 20th century, Preston and Tottenham will renew hostilities this weekend for the first time since the 2009-10 League Cup, where Peter Crouch struck a hat-trick in a 5-1 success for the Lilywhites.
Preston North End FA Cup form:
Preston North End form (all competitions):
Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
We say: Preston North End 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
A spate of attacking injuries does not bode well for Preston, whose home form has left a lot to be desired throughout the campaign, and we cannot envisage an FA Cup shock occurring at Deepdale.
Conte’s Tottenham are not exactly invincible right now, but a crucial win at Fulham would have done wonders for the morale in the camp, and the Lilywhites should keep their hopes of glory alive with a professional performance and routine win.