Derby County host Bristol City in the Championship this Friday night, the Rams will be hoping to strengthen their position in the top two by increasing the gap between them and the Robins to eight points, while Bristol will be hoping to strengthen their position in the play-off places by taking all three points.
Derby will be looking to continue their impressive run of form at Pride Park on Friday, the Rams are currently unbeaten in eight league games, and come into this game after an impressive 3-0 win away at Birmingham City.
The visitors on the other hand, will be looking to get their first win of 2018. Despite an impressive performance against Manchester City in the first leg of the Carabao cup semi-final, they suffered defeat following a late goal from Sergio Agüero. In their last Championship game, the Robins were defeated by Norwich City, so they will be looking to bounce back with a win against Derby.
An award-winning December for the Rams
Gary Rowett’s team have been on an incredible run of form which has seen them establish themselves as automatic promotion contenders. This run of form included the Ram’s going unbeaten in December, winning five out of their six games, scoring eleven goals and conceding just one. This led to Rowett picking up the Manager of the Month award for December, and the Ram’s keeper Scott Carson getting the Player of the Month award.
Derby fans will no doubt be aware that their team have been in a similar position to this before in recent years, and have ultimately failed to get promotion. However, this season Rowett has added experience to the team with signings such as Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone, which could be vital in helping the Rams finally achieve promotion, and beating Bristol on Friday would be another big step towards the Premier League.
Cup games having a negative impact on the Robins?
Bristol’s league form has taken a slight dip in recent weeks, a 2-1 defeat at home to top of the table Wolves and a heavy 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa have seen them drop to 5th in the league. The impressive win over Manchester United in December set up a game with Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao cup, they also suffered a 3-0 defeat to Watford in the third round of the FA Cup.
This increased number of games could be one of the reasons for the recent run of poor results, however, their impressive start to the season has meant that they are still in contention for promotion. The Robins have a four-point cushion between them and Leeds United in 7th and could move up to 4th with a win over Derby. Manager Lee Johnson spoke of his team’s recent form in his press conference saying they are in a “sticky spell as it appears” but also pointed out that “we’re still in a great position heading into the latter half of the campaign.”
Derby will be without midfielder Bradley Johnson for a few weeks with a back injury, but they could be boosted by the return of Joe Ledley.
Bristol could be without Bailey Wright, they are awaiting the results of a scan on his knee. Famara has returned to training and could be in the matchday squad. Matty Taylor has a hernia issue and Gustav Engvall has a hip problem.
Predicted line ups
Derby County (4-2-3-1): Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Thorne; Russell, Vydra, Lawrence; Nugent.
Bristol City (4-4-1-1): Fielding; Magnusson, Baker, Flint, Wright; Bryan, Smith, Pack, Brownhill; Paterson; Reid.