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There was a time when a Burnley v Preston North End fixture was an annual event. From the 1996/97 season through to 2008/09 we played them in the league in every season.

Tomorrow’s game will be just their fourth visit since, a third in the league to add to the League Cup game played in 2013. That League Cup game was won 2-0 with goals from Kieran Trippier and Danny Ings. We won the 2010/11 home league game 4-3 having trailed 3-1 to a Keith Treacy inspired North End up to the 84th minute and then Chris Iwelumo scored twice to complete a hat trick with substitute Jay Rodriguez winning it for us. They beat us 2-0 on their last visit.

They arrive for this game in 11th place in the table on forty points. In this tightest of leagues as far as the play-offs are concerned, they are just four points adrift of West Brom who currently sit in sixth place.

Defensively, they are more than decent with only six teams having conceded less than their 33 goals but at the other end of the pitch, they’ve scored 27 goals with Cardiff the only team to have scored less.

They made an incredible start to the season. They didn’t concede a goal in any of their first seven games. Two od them, against Luton and Coventry, were won 1-0 with the other five ending in 0-0 draws. The first time they featured in a game where both sides scored was when we travelled to Deepdale. That night, Taylor Harwood-Bellis gave us the lead with Jordan Storey equalising five minutes later.

Storey is one of five players to have scored two league goals for them this season. The only players to have scored more are Ched Evans and Emil Riis with seven and five respectively. Both players will miss tomorrow’s game; Evans has just received a four match suspension while Riis is ruled out with a long term injury.

Lewis Leigh remains unavailable with injury but manager Ryan Lowe has received some good news with both Ben Whiteman and Troy Parrott ready to resume while Josh Onomah, who made his debut last week, has been building up his match fitness.

They will also be able to field Robbie Brady. He’s having an injury free season and has played in 24 of their league games of which twenty have been starts.

Facing Burnley, Lowe said today: “Sometimes we have to show teams respect with what they do and how they go about their business, and that’s the game plan for us to get after them at the right times and defend at the right times, but theirs will be the same.

“You’re not going there just to sit back and soak up the pressure. You’ve got to go there and give a good account of yourselves and that’s certainly what we’ll be trying to do because it’s important that we do that.”

While we were involved in the cup last Saturday, Preston were beaten 2-1 at Bristol City with Evans scoring their goal. They lined up at Ashton Gate: Freddie Woodman, Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay, Andrew Hughes, Alan Browne, Ryan Ledson, Ali McCann, Robbie Brady, Liam Delap, Ched Evans, Tom Cannon. Subs: Álvaro Fernández, David Cornell, Greg Cunningham, Daniel Johnson, Josh Onomah, Ben Woodburn, Brad Potts.

Having won through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, it’s back to league action for us tomorrow when we will be looking to continue this remarkable run that has seen us win each of the last nine league games, in which we’ve scored 21 goals and conceded just three. It’s left us in a position some seven points ahead of Sheffield United and an incredible seventeen points ahead of third with just seventeen games to play.

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While the Burnley fans are, rightly, getting excited, the players are keeping their respective feet on the ground. Speaking this week, Anass Zaroury recalled the 3-0 win against Blackburn in November as he looked forward to the Preston game.

He said of the local derbies: “I remember the last one at home against Blackburn, it was great, I really enjoyed it. It’s a big game and we live for these games. I just hope that we can make the fans leave Turf Moor happy.

“It really is lovely playing at home in front of a full crowd. I have just heard it is sold out on Saturday so I can’t wait. I love Turf Moor so much. The fans are good for confidence. Even when it’s not going well, we feel they are always behind us and give positive vibes. It’s very important.”

Zaroury made his debut as a substitute at Deepdale, as did central defender Jordan Beyer. He’s now made nineteen league appearances, fourteen of them from the start and he’s scored six goals to add to three assists. He’s also netted four cup goals, two in the League Cup against Crawley and two at Bournemouth in the FA Cup.

He’ll definitely start if fit and there’s been some good news on the injury front with both Arijanet Muric, who has missed the last three games, and Manuel Benson, injured in the home win against West Brom, both fit again. Jay Rodriguez remains out, although is not far away, which just leaves Taylor Harwood-Bellis on the longer term injury list.

I wouldn’t like to try and second guess the line up but it looks as though it’s going to be a strong looking team.




Preston probably arrived at Burnley in the 2015/16 season around the right time. We’d just drawn three successive games against Wolves, Brighton and Cardiff in a run that would extend to six without a win.

On a miserable, cold, wet afternoon, this was a game that we really should have won  but ended it losing 2-0 for what was our final home defeat of the season.

We just didn’t take our chances and, in the second half, Preston did. They went in front when Will Keane got the better of his twin brother Michael to score and Daniel Johnson scored a second for them four minutes from time.

Despite the win, Preston were down in 18th place in the table; we were fifth but seven points behind leaders Brighton who held a two point lead over Middlesbrough.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa (Matt Lowton 78), Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, George Boyd (Matt Taylor 71), Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield (Michael Kightly 77), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Stephen Ward, Dean Marney, Rouwen Hennings.

Preston: Jordan Pickford, Marnick Vermijl, Tom Clarke, Paul Huntingdon, Greg Cunningham, Daniel Johnson (John Welsh 90+5), Chris Browne, Paul Gallagher, Adam Reach, Will Keane (Jordan Hugill 79), Joe Garner. Subs not used: Chris Kirkland, Callum Woods, Josh Brownhill, Neil Kilkenny, Eoin Doyle.

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