FA Cup Fourth Round weekend gets underway on Friday night as Derby host Leicester. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) previews the match for us.
Derby v Leicester | Friday 19:55 | BBC One
BBC One have made a sensible decision in picking this game as one of their live FA Cup Fourth Round games. There are certainly a few spicy ingredients in the make up of the tie.
For starters, it’s a Midland derby with just 32 miles separating the cities. It pits an in-form Championship side up against a struggling Premier League outfit with two well-known managers and of course the champions on England are involved.
Leicester’s 2016/17 season was always going to be fascinating, but as we approach February it looks to be veering into dangerous territory. The Foxes are down in 15th place in the Premier League and just five points off the relegation zone.
Two league wins in 13 spell trouble and with manager Claudio Ranieri trying a completely different shape in last week’s humbling at Southampton, it has the feel of a pilot grasping at controls as his plane falls out the sky.
Perhaps an exaggeration when you consider Leicester have a Champions League knockout tie to attend to next month and I’m still convinced they have it in them collectively to produce displays that dismiss Derby with little effort. It’s just seems a huge ask for these players to dig deep and find it again though.
Their opponents on Friday night are awkward. A hustling, bustling Pride Park will be after blood and with the venue assuming the role of a fortress in recent weeks it’s going to be a stiff test for the Foxes.
Derby have been re-energised since Steve McClaren returned to the club in October and are seriously in the play-off soup after a terrible start to the campaign under Nigel Pearson.
The surge in Derby’s form has very much stemmed from the Pride Park and they are yet to lose there under the former England boss offering impressive figures of P9 W7 D2 L0.
Three of the current Championship Top 6 have been amongst their victims and if the club really go for it here then surely they have a big chance.
Will Ranieri try another new system? Will he just want to write off the FA Cup and focus on staying up and Sevilla? It’s certainly possible. This looks an unappealing match.
Derby go off outsiders of the two at 19/10 and in the current climate it’s a price I’ll get involved with. It could all click for Leicester of course, but this looks an intimidating fixture, never needed when the chips are down like they are now.
Derby v Leicester – Derby to win (19/10 Bet365)