On their return to the Championship after winning promotion from League One last season, Sunderland have enjoyed a positive start to the new campaign, putting themselves in the top six at the first international break with 15 points from 10 contests.
They have already undergone change, though, with the second of those victories – a 2-0 beating of Stoke City – being immediately followed by the departure of manager Alex Neil, and Tony Mowbraywas then appointed to lead the Black Cats forward.
In his four games at the helm thus far, the new boss has overseen two victories, including a 3-0 beating of Rotherham United in his first game before they fell short away at rivals Midlesbrough.
The Stadium of Light outfit would bounce back in impressive fashion, scoring another 3-0 victory in the following encounter away at Reading, thanks to a Patrick Roberts brace and a Jack Clarkegoal,
before heading into the break on the back of a 2-2 draw away at newly-relegated Watford as Jewison Bennettesnatched a point in the dying minutes with an equaliser.
Now hoping to pick up where they left off and strengthen their position at the top end of the division, the Black Cats will go in search of a fifth league win of the season and a second on home turf on Saturday.
They welcome a Preston North End side who went into the break in somewhat of an ebb and will aim to bounce back in positive fashion.
The Lilywhites’ season thus far has certainly been defined by their defensive stability, with no other Championship side conceding as few as the four goals they have shipped in 10 games, but with only three goals of their own in that period, they have only managed 12 points.
The second of their two wins thus far came away at Coventry City at the end of August, as Emil Riis Jakobsen hit the only goal of the game, but they have been unable to strengthen their position since, firstly losing at home to Birmingham City before rescuing a point against rivals Burnley.
Ryan Lowe’s men most recently hosted league leaders Sheffield United prior to the international break, and they were again shut out by the opposition, while goals from Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurniesaw them condemned to a 2-0 defeat at Deepdale.
Having now dropped to 15th spot in the second tier, the Lancashire outfit will be desperate to correct their attacking form and kickstart a climb up the division with a run of positive results starting on Saturday.