What odds on Huddersfield and Preston serving up a Boxing Day stalemate?
If you thought goals were a precious commodity at the John Smith’s Stadium, for the Lilywhites they are in danger of being named as an endangered species.
Simon Grayson’s men, promoted from League One via the play-offs last May, have scored just 17 goals in their 22 Championship matches so far this term - an average of 0.77 a game.
However, Christmas finds them with a four point advantage over Town, who have netted 24 times, and it is entirely down to an enviable Scrooge-like spirit in front of their own goal.
In complete contrast to their goals scored column, PNE have conceded just 18 times all season - how Town would dearly love a similar number, rather than the 34 strikes opponents have plundered against them.
Grayson has built a formidable back line that no striker has relished this season, as their 11 clean sheets prove. However, it has led to an expensive season ticket at Deepdale - at least if you’re counting pounds per goal, with Preston playing out six 0-0s in the Championship so far this term.
Interestingly, Preston have made significantly less clearances than Town (352 to the Terriers’ 426) and have been less successful in the tackle, winning 70.3% of those attempted compared with Town’s 72.47% suggesting they have been more prosperous in protecting the back line from being peppered with shots.
That all adds up to potential bad news for the Terriers, who have failed to score in three of their last four league meetings with Preston.
However, PNE have stuttered in attack since making the jump up to England’s second tier at the start of the campaign.
Robbed of Jermaine Beckford, who scored a hattrick in the play-off final, with serious injury, the Lancashire club have struggled to replace his firepower. Top scorer Daniel Johnson has six league strikes to his name, while Joe Garner and Paul Gallagher are next in the list with three apiece.
One of the biggest problems has been creating chances inside the 18-yard box - 44% of Preston’s shots are from outside the area, and seven of their 17 goals have been scored from range while another four have been the result of set piece situations.
Town would do well to take heed of that particular stat, given the struggles against the dead ball in recent weeks with the issue again rearing its ugly head against Brentford last weekend.
As a result of their more direct route, PNE have resorted to a negligible percentage of through balls, but they have seen greater success from both crossing and dribbling than their Huddersfield counterparts.
Essentially, both teams have had problems converting chances into goals with Town edging that stat - 11.9% conversion rate compared with 8.8% for PNE.
So are we in for a goal drought to accompany the turkey leftovers?
Well, not necessarily. Both teams have seen an upturn in front of goal in recent weeks - Preston have scored five in their last five while Town have netted seven times in the same period.
However, all the numbers point to a limited number of chances for Town - they must make sure the ones they do carve out are made to count, if they are to feel the festive cheer rather than the Christmas chill.