Swansea City vs Derby County preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Wayne Rooney of Derby County chats with Steve Cooper, manager of Swansea ahead of kick-off during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Swansea City at the Pride Park, Derby on Wednesday 16th December 2020. (Photo by Jon Hobley)

Derby County head to promotion hopefuls Swansea City on Saturday afternoon with their EFL Championship survival hopes now in their own hands.

The Rams can confirm their second-tier status with victories in their remaining two games, while Swansea are already guaranteed a play-off spot.

Fifth in the standings with 77 points from 44 games, the Swans are into the next round for the second year running, alongside Brentford, Bournemouth, and Barnsley.

But things are in stark contrast in the opposite camp, with Derby hovering dangerously close to relegation with only two games remaining.

The Rams are four points clear of Rotherham United, who have a game in hand over them. Derby have lost each of their last five games.

  • Form guide

Wayne Rooney's side enter this penultimate game of the season on a five-match losing run, most recently going down 2-1 to Midlands rivals Birmingham City.

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Going further back, it is one win in 13 matches for County - a terrible run that had them as odds-on favourites for relegation up until Tuesday night.

That was until Rotherham, who have had games in hand to play on the sides above them, lost 1-0 at Brentford - their fifth straight defeat, four of those without scoring.

Rotherham now have just one more game in hand to play on Derby - away at Luton Town next Tuesday - and they have a four-point deficit to make up on the Rams.

Effectively, then, Rooney's men will be certain of survival if they beat Swansea at the Liberty Stadium and fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park next week.

That is easier said than done given their current form, of course, although they did beat the Swans 2-0 in December's reverse fixture.

City are not exactly in the greatest form, either, having won just two of their last nine matches.

That includes a run of a couple of 2-2 draws against Wycombe Wanderers and Reading, either side of losing at home to Queens Park Rangers in their last match at the Liberty Stadium.

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In fact, Steve Cooper's charges have picked up just eight points in their last nine league games, compared to 19 in their previous nine in the Championship.

Swansea have ultimately done enough to book a play-off spot with time to spare, though, and they are now jostling for position with Brentford, Bournemouth and Barnsley.

Swansea City Championship form: L W W D L D

Derby County Championship form: W L L L L L

  • Team news

Cooper will have one eye on the upcoming play-offs, but there is still a few weeks until the semi-finals so there is no need to rest players for this match.

Andre Ayew scored as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw with Reading last time out and is expected to return to the starting lineup here.

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Connor Roberts is also in contention for a recall at the back, while Korey Smith will hope to be given some minutes.

As for the visitors, they are having to contend with a whole host of injury issues, with defensive trio Curtis DaviesAndre Wisdom and Teden Mengi among their absentees.

Rooney opted for Martyn Waghorn alongside Colin Kazim-Richards up top against Birmingham, but that loss could usher the return of Graeme Shinnie in midfield as part of a reshuffle.

Wales international Tom Lawrence has two goals in his last five appearances and will almost certainly start at the Liberty Stadium.

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  • Predicted lineups

Swansea City (4-3-3): 

Woodman, Naughton, Cabango, Bennett, Bidwell, Hourihane, Smith, Grimes, Routledge, Ayew, Lowe.

Derby County (3-4-1-2):

Roos, Forsyth, Clarke, Edmundson, Byrne, Shinnie, Knight, Buchanan,  Lawrence, Roberts, Kazim-Richards.

  • Ones to watch

Swansea City - Andre Ayew

After relegation from the Premier League in 2018, it looked like  Ayew would leave the club, but since then he has been a valuable asset to the club in their bid to return to the top flight. This season, he has been vital in their good form under Cooper. 

He has scored 14 goals in 35 league appearances for the Swans, making him their top scorer. His dribbling and composure in front of goal are the two main reasons why they are in the position they are in. He needs to be kept under wraps at all times if Derby are to claim the bragging rights. 

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Derby County - Tom Lawrence

After not starting since December because of injury, he has been an influential figure in Derby's fight against relegation with his quality performances and much needed goals. The 27-year-old scored a brilliant goal against Reading as well as getting on the scoresheet against Blackburn, and Rooney will be pleased to have him back at such a pivotal stage of the season.

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  • Previous meetings

There have been 45 previous meetings between the sides, with the spoils being almost equally shared. The Swans have won 19 times against Derby, but lost in 18 games.

The Rams have also won their last two meetings with Swansea, including a 2-0 win at home this season. 

Derby could therefore achieve a league double over the Welsh side for the first time since 1985-86, and just the second time ever.

Colin Kazim-Richards and Kamil Jozwiak were the goalscorers as the side picked up their first home win of the campaign.

  • Manager's comments

Steve Cooper

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Cooper wants Swansea to use their two remaining league games to build momentum going into the Championship play-offs.

“We want to use these two games to finish strongly and pick up points,” said Cooper, who took charge of his 100th game for the Swans in the recent draw at Reading.

“We’ve already got seven more points than what we had last season, with two games left to play.

“We want to try and add to that in the games coming up, starting with Derby at the Liberty.

“It’s been a tough season playing against teams with bigger budgets and squads, but we’ve kept competing and that’s credit to these players.

“It’s an ambition and objective for the club to get back to the Premier League. It was always going to be very tough this year, but we’re going for it. Anything is possible.”

Wayne Rooney

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Rooney has stressed that the Rams know what they need to do, while he remains confident that Derby have what it takes to get across the line and put a challenging season behind them.

“It is a pressurised situation in terms of we are trying to stay in the league,” Rooney told RamsTV.

“We are not in good form in terms of results, but we have got two games left to try and turn it round.

“We know what we have to do. There is a lot of pressure on the teams that are chasing us as well, they have to pick up the points to go ahead of us, and our focus is solely on our game on Saturday.

“We have to just keep pushing and trying to get the win. A win on Saturday would be a huge result for us that leads us into the last game of the season. We are giving it our full attention and focus to get our preparation right for Saturday.”

  • How to watch

Kick off: 15.00 BST, Saturday May 1st.

Live coverage of the game can be found on Sky Sports Football with the build up starting at 14.30 BST.

  • Prediction

Swansea have struggled for momentum in recent weeks and are winless in four league home league matches, losing three of those.

Don't expect the Swans to rest on their laurels, but given they've already qualified for the playoffs, they might field a weakened side. Derby will look to make the most of that opportunity.

Given Derby's recent struggles collecting just one point from the last 24 but fighting for survival, a draw seems like the most likely outcome.

Prediction: Swansea City 1 - 1 Derby County