Preview: East Midlands Derby

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15th October 2017, Pride Park Stadium, Derby, England; EFL Championship football, Derby County versus Nottingham Forest; A general view of the Derby County corner flag with the text Home of the Rams celebrating 20 years at Pride Park Stadium (Photo by Roland Harrison/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Derby County meet Nottingham Forest for the 125th time on Sunday at the iPro Stadium in what is still regarded as one of the fiercest derbies in English football.

From Rob Earnshaw’s goal in the 5-2 win at the City Ground in 2010, to Ben Osborn’s late strike in the 2015 game, this is a fixture which contains an extensive list of moments to savour for both teams.

3,000 Forest faithful will make the short journey down the A52 on Sunday to ramp up the volume inside a sold out Pride Park.

The Championship throws up twelve exciting end-to-end games every weekend. This is only magnified in the heat of a league clash between two rivals.

Preview: East Midlands Derby

Last Season’s Encounters

The club’s two meetings in the 2016/17 campaign clubs consisted firstly of a comfortable 3-0 win for Derby at Pride Park. Forest never got into second gear. Goals from Will Hughes, Tom Ince and an own goal from Nicholas Bendtner punished a poor display by Phillipe Montanier’s team.

An enthralling 2-2 draw at the City Ground later in the season was a much more even contest. Forest were struggling for Championship survival while Derby were trying to rectify the poor form under Steve McLaren after they were in the play-offs earlier in the season.

Zach Clough opened the scoring but goals from Matej Vydra and Hughes pushed Derby into the ascendency. However, Dani Pinillos’ 94th minute header sent the Trent End into raptures as the home side rescued a point.

Current Form: Derby

Last season it was evident that the Rams performed the better out of the two East Midlands clubs. But Steve McLaren’s side lost ground on the promotion contenders. He was replaced by Gary Rowett in March who led them to a mid-table finish.

This term Rowett’s side have three wins, four draws and two defeats including a 4-1 defeat against Bristol City. County’s last three encounters were draws and they will be frustrated that they claimed just three points from a possible nine.

Gary Rowett applauded his team’s build up play in recent matches as well as their resolute defending.

But it is in their ability to convert dominance on the ball into goalscoring opportunities which he will be lamenting. In the 0-0 draw with Cardiff, Derby saw 55 per cent of possession but had seven shots to the home side’s 14.

Given Derby’s attacking options available as well as ex-Premier League players like Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley, the neutral fan would assume they should be further up the table at this stage.

Maybe a change up front is also overdue. Sam Winnall has scored one goal this season compared to five for Vydra and two for Nugent. Andreas Weimann has also found first team opportunities to be at a premium under Gary Rowett.

Squad News

Darren Bent and George Thorne remain sidelined with hamstring injuries. Bradley Johnson is serving a one match suspension. Vydra or Weimann may come in to the attacking midfield to replace the former Leeds man.

One to Watch: Johnny Russell

With the departures of Tom Ince and Will Hughes in the summer, the burden has fallen on Russell to provide the attacking flair and goalscoring opportunities. He is a big game player who has been at Derby long enough to know the importance of this clash. Russell has 25 goals in 144 appearances since joining from Dundee United in 2014.

With Forest’s wing back system proving vulnerable to counter attacks in recent matches, Russell will be looking to exploit that space and get crosses into Winnall or Vydra. He is the main creative outlet in the absence of Bradley Johnson.

Possible Line-up:

(4-2-3-1) Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley; Russell, Weimann, Lawrence; Vydra

Current Form: Forest

It’s been a characteristically inconsistent start for Mark Warburton’s team with the Reds winning five, drawing none and losing six of their eleven Championship matches thus far.

Fans understand that the club is in transitional period. The former Rangers manager will need a couple of transfer windows and at least a season to mould a squad to fit his playing ethos.

It was a torrid season under Phillipe Montanier’s tenure last year where the Reds lost 15 out of his 30 matches in charge. With Fawaz Al-Hasawi finally departing NG2 as well, new owner Evangelos Marinakis and Warburton’s task of rebuilding the club as a whole is a long way off completion.

On the pitch, the 3-5-2 formation has divided opinion among supporters. Daryl Murphy and Jason Cummings have ten goals between them so far, while in midfield Forest are spoilt for choice with the options available.

Defensively there are concerns. The injured David Vaughan as a shield for the back four is sorely missed at the moment in the holding midfield role.

Joe Worrall, Michael Mancienne and Danny Fox looked incredibly vulnerable against Sheffield United. Forest conceded 15 goals in all competitions in September.

Squad News

Matt Mills will return, probably in place of Worrall or Fox in central defence. Vaughan and Matty Cash are in training returning from injuries.

One to Watch: Ben Osborn

Still just 23 years old, Osborn has become somewhat underrated in midfield since the arrivals of Kieran Dowell, Liam Bridcutt and Barrie McKay. He has an 81 per cent pass success rate so far this season and is largely responsible for Forest’s 54.2 per cent average possession percentage.

Expect Osborn to overrun the Derby midfield, get plenty of shots away and spread the ball wide to Armand Traore and Tendayi Darikwa. Forest fans will be dreaming that his thumping strike at the iPro in 2015 can be recreated on Sunday.

Possible Line-up

(3-5-2) Smith;  Mancienne, Mills, Worrall; Darikwa, Traore, Osborn, Bridcutt, Dowell; Cummings, Murphy

Prediction

Forest will start slowly allowing Russell, Vydra and Lawrence to exploit space on the wings for the Rams and will score on the counter attack. Forest will pull a goal back through Murphy or Cummings before Derby get another goal maybe courtesy of poor Forest defending. Derby County 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Main Photo

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