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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Forest vs. Preston

It's been a long time coming, but Saturday finally sees the match we've all been waiting for here at Soccer AM/MW as Turls's Nottingham Forest and Lakes's Preston go head-to-head for the first time this season.

With so much more than just three Championship points at stake, we take an extended preview of the fixture courtesy of our resident Forest and North End fans.

First up, Turls.

Key Forest Player?
Paul McKenna. What can I say - the lad makes us tick. He is the heartbeat of this Forest team and he gives us everything that we were missing last season.

He has the experience at this level and is a calm head in a young midfield.

Everything goes through him. I was watching the Cardiff/Forest game the other week and every time we got the ball, the defence was looking for McKenna to offload the ball too.

The magic man pulls the strings to the Forest puppet show.

Most Dangerous PNE Player?
Jon Parkin/ Neil Mellor. This 200 stone strike partnership could cause our defence a few problems.

They aren't the most cultured of strikers but it would be a dis-service to claim that they are just bulldozers. If these tow are in a bullish mood, then Morgan and Wilson will be in for a very long evening.

Davies vs. Irvine:

I like Irvine, I think he has done a very good job considering the resources he has to work with. However, I have often referred to BD as the best Championship manager out there and I'm going to have to stick with that.

Davies [right] makes a team tough to beat but at the same time, he has got Forest playing fast, free-flowing football that Sir Brian Clough would have been proud of.

I'm pretty sure Irvine would love to have a chairman as generous as Forest have got. Maybe then he might be able to splash some cash.

What Are You Most Looking Forward To?

There are a lot of things that this game is going to be good for - but the one thing that stands out for me is how McKenna and Davies react to playing their former clubs.

BD won't hold too much affinity for the club but McKenna is, or to put it correctly, was, Preston North End. It must be a bitter pill for Preston fans to swallow when they see McKenna running the show in the Garibaldi Red.

I do hope that he won't have a bad case of nostalgia. I personally think he won't change in any way. If he scores, he won't celebrate but I can't see him scoring.
I'd also like to think that the Preston fans won't boo him.

As for BD, this one will more interesting when Forest travel to Deepdale but it will be interesting to see how he approaches any questions regarding his time at the club.

Can You Win?
Yes. I reckon Forest will win by a couple of goals. We have far too much strength to not score at home. Our last two home games have given us nine goals and I can't see the goal-machine easing off.

It will be a tough test because Preston are a well-organised team but I reckon the attacking options that Davies has at his disposal will be too much for PNE.

Final word?
Preston suck balls. 2-0 to Forest.

Now, Lakes's turn.

Key PNE player?
Ross Wallace [left]. The guy is an absolute legend - he's right up there when I think of great Preston players.

He is a great outlet and lethal from set-pieces. He's way better than we are. I couldn't believe it when he signed for us and I think he's got to be our key player for the rest of the season.

Most Dangerous Forest player?
Paul McKenna. Not necessarily as an attacking threat, but as a playmaker he fits right into Billy Davies's killer style of organised, pressing football.

I think he's going to create chances, and I think we need to stop him to get anything out of the game. Supress McKenna and we could win.

Davies vs. Irvine
Davies. I genuinely think he's a great, great talent. He knows what we wants from his players and they respect him and want to win for him.

I think Alan Irvine [right] is a good manager at this level, but BD is the best in the division.

What are you most looking forward to?
Richard Chaplow forging a reputation for himself again in midfield.

I think he needs a couple of good games strung together in order to get back to his best as he's a confidence player. He had a great game at the weekend by all accounts, and long may it continue.

I'm also hoping our fans show BD a bit of respect. Back when feelings were running high I could understand the anger - I felt it myself - but it's all water under the bridge now. We have to draw a line somewhere and accept that he was, and is, a great manager.

Can you win?
Yes. If we play like we can play, keep the ball on the deck, and keep our organised style I think we're a very good match for Forest.

It also depends on players like Chaplow and Chris Sedgwick pulling their weight and our forwards finding some confidence. But whatever happens, I don't think we'll concede many.

Final Word?
Forest are sh*t! 1-1 draw.

Big Match Stats:
Saturday's game will be the 45th between the two sides at the City Ground. Forest hold the upper hand with 18 wins to Preston's 13, and 13 games have ended all square.

The most recent meeting between the pair in the East Midlands came towards the end of last season when two goals from Rob Earnshaw earned Forest a 2-1 win.

The last time North End returned from a trip to Forest with all three points was in October 2004, a 1-0 win enough for Craig Brown's Preston on that occasion.

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