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Predictions for Preston in 2017

A look at what could be in store in 2017 for Preston North End. Could they push for promotion or is this another year of developing the squad?

The Championship is one of the toughest competing divisions in England. The Premier League might have some of the biggest teams in England but the Championships have the most ruthless. It’s been proven as we have seen a number of impressive Premier League sides be dropped in the division and struggle for mid table or are actually end up being relegated straight into League 1. The same goes for the playoff spot. You could be 12th and still only find yourself 6 points behind the 6th spot. That’s how close this league is, and there are a few teams flirting with the playoff position with Preston North End among them. 2017 can be a positive one for this team, there is chance for them to squeeze in the playoffs, something they haven’t  done  since 2001 where they were beaten by Bolton which can be seen with this infographic showing Preston’s entire history. However, maybe they can create some new history by creeping into the playoff and quite possibly produce the footballing world with a miracle by securing promotion to the top flight. Even if that doesn’t happen, then I still think they will build positively in the summer and kick off the 2017/2018 campaign with a solid start.

First Things First, Can they make the playoffs?

There’s no questioning that they can’t? Mathematically they are still in it the hunt and anything can happen in this league, so why not?  They are only 6 points behind Sheffield Wednesday who find themselves in 6th place on 45 points, now all it takes is Preston to build some momentum and discover a strong resurgence in the latter part of the season whilst hoping other teams drop points.

They have already shown that they are capable of beating the best teams in the division which was evident when they ended Brighton’s 17 match winning streak with a 2-0 win thanks to the goals by Huntington and Robinson. They should use this result as a spring-board to push on and go on a run of form over the coming weeks.

In regards to their form, they are currently on a 3 match unbeaten streak, and have ex-Premier League team Aston Villa next – who they previously beat 2-0.  Villa have only managed one win in five compared to Preston’s two wins and a draw. The door will definitely be banging, they just need to keep it up which will be rather tough.  This now leads onto…

But will they make the playoffs?

Despite the positivity I was giving the team, I believe it’s too much for them. It might sound like I am contradicting myself here but, there is chance they can reach the playoffs, no doubt. But for this to happen, they’ll need other teams to drop points, and I think the teams around them are too solid. Here is the table highlighting the last 10 games of each club in the Championship and you can see that Wednesday who occupy 6th spot haven’t lost a game in 5 and if teams keep performing above them… then I think it may be too much for Preston. That said, they have showed promise, they just need to start taking points off of their rival competitors. Losing points against Wednesday with a 94th minute goal could have been avoided and only put them 3 points from the playoffs.

Next Season?

If they don’t get the playoff’s they should still look at this season as a success and build from it. Try to keep their major players and sign some proven potential to add to the depth of the squad. If they don’t reach the playoffs then I think they can be surprise packages for next season.

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