Preston North End‘s nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions ended when they lost to Queens Park Rangers away from home in the EFL Championship. Preston North End drew five consecutive games in the league and their last win came against Swansea in August. They are currently 18th on the league table with 11 points. They have only won two games from the 11 they have played and have lost four.
In these 11 games, Preston have found a new left-back in Josh Earl, who missed out on the first two games of the season, but has been the first choice of his manager Frankie McAvoy. In last Saturday’s defeat at Queens Park Rangers, Earl scored the first goal of his senior career. Earl spent the second half of last season on loan with Burton Albion. That was a third loan in two years in League One, following spells with Bolton and Ipswich. He returned to the Lilywhites in the summer determined to make an impact and catch the eye of head coach Frankie McAvoy. After playing for much of the pre-season in the centre of defence, Earl did not make the bench for the first two league games. Earl got the nod to start at Huddersfield on August 17 and has stayed in the side since.
Let’s take a look at his stats so far in the season:
The above visual shows us the pass map for Josh Earl in his nine games for the Lilywhites so far. He has seen a lot of the ball on the left side and has attempted passes both ways. The young fullback has been the most threatening when he is in the opposition half as he can dribble the ball well past the opposition defenders and also puts in good crosses into the penalty area. As seen in the visual, most of the crosses he has attempted into the penalty area have a high expected threat. Earl has provided one assist so far and has had a high expected threat from his crosses he attempts in most of the games. He has also attempted a few diagonal cross-field passes from the left flank.
Josh Earl has completed most passes to Ledson, who plays next to him in the midfield. He has also played a high number of passes to his strikers, Maguire and Jakobsen. The passes that he has attempted towards his strikers have a high expected threat which indicates that he puts in good balls in threatening positions and gives his strikers a chance to take an attempt on goal.
Earl has also attempted six shots on goal so far and has also recently scored his first goal. Preston play in a 3-4-1-2 formation, which gives their full-backs the freedom to play higher up the pitch and play more offensively. Josh Earl has used this to his advantage and always poses a threat to the opposition defenders.
While Earl has been impressive offensively, he has also completed his defensive duties in trying to stop the opposition attacks. He has attempted many duels in his own half while defending but has also attempted a high number of duels in the opposition half. He has attempted more number of 50-50 duels in the opposition half and helps recover the ball for his team.
Josh Earl has also completed a high number of interceptions in his own half. Most of these interceptions were when the opposition player was on the ball. He has also been able to read the passes played by the opposition and intercepted the ball before it reached the player.
Since being given a start at wing-back in the away game at Huddersfield, he’s cemented his place. Earl’s time since getting into the Preston North End side four years has been rather stop-start. Nine starts on the spin suggests he now has plenty of forward momentum. Preston North End have been able to hold off their opposition but they have failed to win all three points in their last six matches. They will look forward to winning their match after the international break.