For a place in the last eight of the League Cup, Derby travel to Fulham.
A lot has changed since the Rams demolished the Cottagers 5-1 at Pride Park back in August.
I have spoken to Andrew Beck of Cottagers Confidential to find out more about the opponents.
How much have Fulham changed since that 5-1 drubbing?
Fulham have changed immensely. Just making sure the manager isn’t a crazy person was a big boost. Magath never settled on a lineup and refused to play some of the most talented players (Dan Burn, Hugo Rodallega, Bryan Ruiz). Since Kit Symons has taken over, Fulham have been a different club. He’s been in charge for seven league matches, and over the last six, Fulham have been the second best team in the league.
Has the poor start to the season changed your opinion of how Fulham will fare back in the Championship this season?
At the beginning of the year, I felt Fulham were probably the most talented team in the Championship. There’s a lot of quality in the squad. With a competent manager and a little strengthening in January, I would have expected them to challenge for the top two. I think the hole that they dug under Magath is probably too deep for that. However, making the playoffs is still a very good possibility.
What are your thoughts on your team’s League Cup campaign so far?
The cup has been fun so far. Fulham got to play one of their traditional rivals away for ther first time in over a decade. The fact that it was also a win was very satisfying. Just a few weeks ago, I would have been happy for Fulham to actually concentrate on a cup run just to salvage some of the season. But since the recent improved form, the league is once again the most important thing in my eyes.
Finally, do you expect Fulham to field a strong side and what is your match prediction?
I expect some rotation. Rodallega had to leave Friday’s match with cramps, so I’d expect him to sit, probably replaced by Cauley Woodrow. I don’t expect Ruiz or Scott Parker to start. You’ll probably see Patrick Roberts and Emerson Hyndman. But the squad will be very strong, and it will be well coached. Don’t expect them to roll over this time. How they do depends on how serious Derby takes it. If Derby fields a strong side I expect a close game that could go either way. If they field more of a second choice lineup, I’d expect Fulham to win.
Thank you to Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions.