- Sky Bet Championship
- Date – 14th February 2017 (7:45 KO)
- Opposition – Derby County
- Location – Pride Park
Following the impressive win over promotion chasing Leeds United on Saturday, City travel to Pride Park on Tuesday night (14/02/17) in the hope of picking up more points as they look to strive well clear of those dreaded bottom three places. City are currently 10 points clear of 22nd placed Blackburn, but as we know, things can change so very quickly in football. Warnock has previously stated that 50 points makes sure of survival in this division. In my opinion, around 45 points *should be enough, but who knows, with the Championship being so unpredictable. So, let’s take a look at Tuesday’s opposition in Derby County.
Derby certainly don’t lack any fight and desire. This was shown in their last outing against Bristol City. The Rams were on the wrong end of a shock 3-0 score line at half time, thanks to goals from Bristol City’s Matty Taylor, and a brace from on loan Chelsea striker, Tammy Abraham. However, Derby fought back in the second half, thanks for their own brace, from experienced striker Darren Bent (pictured above) , and an equaliser from former bluebirds target, Tom Ince. The East Midlands side currently sit in a very respectable 8th position in the Championship, after a very poor start to the season under former Leicester City manager, Nigel Pearson. In their 30 games played, they have picked up 13 wins, 8 draws, and 9 defeats. They have scored 33 goals, while conceding 8, giving Steve McLaren’s side a goal difference of +8. They are currently 5 points away from 6th spot, which is in the hands of Sheffield Wednesday at this moment in time. In their last 5 league outings, they have picked up a respectable, but not fantastic, 7 points, out of a possible 15. The run has included a 1-0 away defeat at the hands of Leeds United (who City beat 2-0 last time out), and a 1-0 away defeat to a strong Newcastle United side. On a positive note, they just edged past promtion rivals Reading in a 3-2 home win back on the 21st of January. Their biggest goal threats come in the form of Tom Ince (with 12 goals, and Darren Bent (with 14 goals). City will have to be vary of the threat of these two, as they are both almost certainties to start against the bluebirds.
Now what are City’s chances of picking up a result? In City’s recent history at Pride Park, they have picked up 2 wins, 2 draws and a loss, in their last 5 fixtures on Derby turf – dating back to August 2010. Derby County will be favourites, and righty so, with the money they have spent in recent seasons to gain promotion, which has come to no avail as of yet. Their team oozes quality at this level, from former Spurs striker iDarren Bent, now 33, who has scored 103 goals at Premier League level, down to former Liverpool goalkeeper, Scott Carson. Let’s not forget the likes of the so far unmentioned Will Hughes, who has been linked to various Premier League clubs for the past few years, and Johnny Russell, who possesses a great deal of pace, and the ability to beat a man. This Derby squad have depth in all areas, with the likes of Nick Blackman struggling to get a game. That’s enough about Derby, as the bluebirds have quality of their own. Morrison and Bamba’s partnership in the heart of the defence is growing game by game, they were both excellent against Leeds on Saturday.
Kenneth Zohore is starting to get amongst the goals, and Joe Ralls showed the quality against Leeds which earned him a regular spot in the City midfield during Russell Slade’s tenure at the club. His work rate has never been in doubt, but his link up play with Zohore is improving, and he showed great composure against Garry Monk’s side, and rarely gave the ball away. Finally, how can we forget Craig Noone? Back in the City due to Hoilett feeling ill on Friday night, the Liverpudlian definitely made the post of his chance. A constant threat out wide, and put in an magnificent free kick for Morrison to head home for City’s first goal. A left footed in swinger from the right hand side, from really far out, as it fell to an oncoming Sean Morrison inside the box, with no Leeds player near. A free kick from the very top draw. Plenty of positives for City, who will be full of confidence after Saturday’s result.