Preston North End in numbers: Possession ISN’T the key after all

Preston North End were a bit like the wolf who huffed and puffed but could not blow the house down at Millwall last week.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Friday, 9th August 2019, 3:00 pm
PNE had the second-highest percentage of possession in the division

They had the ball for 64% of the clash at The Den but had nothing to show for it.

Over 90 minutes North End managed one attempt on target – Alan Browne’s shot in the ninth minute which Lions striker Matt Smith headed off the line.

I cannot even recall them having a shot in the second half as they knocked the ball around but rarely got within touching distance of the edge of the box.

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It shows that possession isn’t king. While Millwall might have let PNE have the ball, it was Neil Harris’ men taking the three points.

Across London, there were similar statistics from Brentford’s home defeat to Birmingham at Griffin Park.

The Bees bossed the game to the extent they had 76% possession, impressive stats to say the least. They lost 1-0.

Mind you, Brentford did have more shots than North End managed for what good that did them.

Brentford were top of the possession stats for the first day of the campaign in the Championship, with North End second.

Swansea’s 63% against Hull was rewarded with a 2-1 win after turning round an early deficit.

Blackburn had the fourth highest possession stats with 62% of the ball at Ewood Park against Charlton and were beaten 1-0.

In fact of the nine teams with most possession in the Championship on the first day, only Leeds United and Wigan Athletic won.

Food for thought then. However nice it is to have the ball for prolonged periods, it won’t necessarily get you what you want.

It is having a cutting edge which counts.