It’s nearly here. The match that is the first one that supporters of both teams alike immediately look out for on fixture release day.
Derby County go into the game with an exemplary away record in the league and boast a return of 12 goals in just 4 games on the road. A different story in front of the Pride Park crowd has left many supporters with a sour taste in their mouth, with plenty of fingers being pointed at Nigel Clough. The Rams come into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City, a match where Derby were quite unlucky and condemned by two set-pieces (watch below).
Saturday’s hosts also enter the East Midlands derby on the back of a 2-1 away defeat (see below). The Reds have won just 1 of their last 5 outings and have conceded 10 in their last 5 matches. On home soil, Forest are yet to be beaten.
In the recent head-to-heads, Derby have won on their last two visits to the City Ground and are unbeaten in the last four matches between the East Midlands counterparts – you have to go back to 2010 to find the Reds’ last home win in the fixture.
Ultimately, does this form have any bearing on the fixture? Very little, I think. Form has notably been no suggestion to the outcome in recent years and, as it’s said, goes out the window.
During the Rams’ defeat at the hands of the Foxes earlier this week, midfielder Paul Coutts picked up a knee injury. It subsequently ruled him out of action for at least four months. He provided the assist for Craig Bryson in last year’s win on the Red side of the Trent.
Coutts joins fellow midfielders Jeff Hendrick and James Bailey on the sidelines. It appears to be unlikely that there will be any signings before Saturday’s lunch-time match. It’s been apparent in home matches that Hendrick’s physicality and general presence is a sore miss. The recent home defeats have come up against very strong sides, both physically and in terms of their organisation.
As a result of the injuries, Saturday presents another interesting team selection. The goalkeeper picks itself, unless any of you are calling for Saul Deeney to be chucked in at the deep end for his first match since 2010? No, I thought not.
Ex-Red Kieron Freeman came in for Spurs loanee Adam Smith on Tuesday night. I think Clough will revert back to Smith for this fixture. The rest of the defence does almost pick itself as there is little else to call on however Craig Forsyth hasn’t done much to impress in the opening matches of the new campaign but, unless Clough wants to play Freeman at left-back, where he can play, it will be Forsyth.
The main question is, do Derby stick with their diamond of 4-1-3-2? It doesn’t give the team much width despite there being Ben Davies, Jamie Ward and Michael Jacobs all able to play on the wings. I’d definitely like to see more of Davies and Jacobs. The formation hasn’t worked at home, where it most certainly does need readdressing as it doesn’t break teams down, but it has been pretty successful on the road with a lot of movement and neat football going on.
John Eustace, it’s fair to say, hasn’t been outstanding for Derby thus far, however this is undoubtedly a good game for his experienced head. Craig Bryson and Will Hughes are likely to start with the former Watford skipper.
I really don’t think Jamie Ward is suited to that formation, unless he is up front. Nevertheless I wouldn’t hesitate to start him against Forest. Ward displays such passion in derby fixtures and has a spark that can change the game. The ex-Blade has scored two for the Rams against the Reds.
The front two is one up for debate. Starts have been hard to come by for Conor Sammon so far this season, however he started alongside Johnny Russell on Tuesday. Many had been calling for the recall of the Irish international but, if he starts, would that mean Russell or Martin should face the axe or should all three be accommodated?
Whatever eleven run out at kick-off, it will be an interesting game. Tackles will fly about, I certainly wouldn’t bet against there being a red card. Anything can happen in these fixtures.
As I mentioned earlier this week, it’s a massive match for manager Nigel Clough – a defeat would mount more pressure on him and make Tuesday’s seemingly routine match at home to Ipswich Town a very important one.
You can read and watch all my pre-Forest features by CLICKING HERE.
Finally, be sure to get behind the team – whether you’re at the City Ground or elsewhere!
Come on you Rams!