Match Preview – Derby County

On current form Saturday’s derby has all the ingredients of a classic. Leicester and Derby meet at the Walkers with both sides on encouraging runs and both eager to make amends for the past. In City’s case, Chris Weale will want to redress the mistake which saw Andy King’s backpass trickle under his boot the last time these teams met at Pride Park. Derby meanwhile, will be looking for their first ever win at the Walkers Stadium, having failed to take maximum points in any of their five visits.

A 2-0 reverse at Millwall has been the Rams’ only defeat in their last 10 matches. Nigel Clough’s side have climbed from 22nd to 4th on the back of this run. In Kris Common’s Derby possess a striker whose Championship goal scoring record is bettered only by Jay Bothroyd this season. Likewise in Paul Green the Rams can boast one of the league’s top creative forces, the Sheffield born Irishman has six assists this term.

But it’s not all about goals. The Derby defence have kept five clean sheets in their last ten matches and have shut out their opponents in each of the last two games.

Leicester too, with just one defeat in seven, are finding their way up the Championship table. A late equaliser on Wednesday night has kept hopes of a promotion push alive and a win against local rivals would be just the tonic to inspire confidence in both the fans and the players.

The Foxes are finding the net with reassuring regularity now and three of their last four goals (if you count the penalty) have come from set pieces. Conversely Leicester remain toothless from corners, and have totalled 121 without scoring in the league this season.

All that said, past results have demonstrated that this game has often flattered to deceive. The last four meetings between the two sides have produced just four goals, and the last three meetings at the Walkers Stadium have been drawn.

As an example of the attacking intent (or more accurately, lack thereof) in last season’s encounters, only Plymouth managed fewer attempts on goal than Derby’s five at the Walkers Stadium last season. It’s the sort of statistic that demonstrates just how cheeky Robbie Savage’s suggestion that Derby ‘deserved to win it’ really was. Nevertheless, as pantomime villains go Savage isn’t the worst. He’s never scored against Leicester and that’s hopefully one record which will remain the same.

Finally, a word on the match official. Steve Tanner is not scared of dishing out cards, especially red ones. In the 15 games he has officiated this season, five players have been dismissed. Last season he sent off six players within the space of eight games. Maybe they all deserved it, but it won’t be surprising if the official is a talking point after the match.

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