Preston look a great bet in their clash with arch-rivals Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.
North End are 10/3 to take the spoils at Turf Moor, which is an enticing price when you consider the respective shot data. My 16-match ratings generate a total goals expectancy of just 1.90, so the margins are tight and one goal might be enough for either side. Given that the two teams share an almost identical shot ratio (50 per cent versus 49), the value is evidently with the visitors.
The difference boils down to experience. Preston don’t have too many Championship regulars in their ranks, whereas Burnley now consider themselves to be mostly of a Premier League pedigree. But there’s a sense that Simon Grayson’s men are growing in stature by the week, whereas the Clarets are squeezing so much out of so little that a surprise setback is arguably overdue.
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A run of six straight clean sheets following the October international break is the underlying cause for growing optimism at Deepdale, a sequence that includes goalless draws at Brighton and QPR. Last week, the Lilywhites were 13 minutes away from victory at Fulham when Ross McCormack produced a moment of brilliance from a dead-ball situation. So not quite, but it's coming.
There’s no questioning Burnley’s mentality. They’ve tasted defeat just once in 14 matches and scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of games (nine) than any other team in the division and last weekend's rescue act from 2-0 down at Cardiff, when the Clarets scored twice in the final five minutes, has prompted Sean Dyche to wax lyrical about the strength of character in his ranks. However, it's tempting to believe that such pride comes before a fall.
Burnley have won all nine games when they’ve taken the lead and taken a point in seven of the nine when haven’t but Preston’s no-quarter-given culture means they’ve only conceded first seven times in the last 44 matches, a sequence that stretches all the way back to the start of February. If we support our main bet on the visitors with an additional wager on Preston to keep a clean sheet, we cover enough bases to fancy some sort of return.
For more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system, follow this link.