WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) pens us a preview of the FA Cup fourth round replay between Leicester and Derby. The former are in big trouble in the league so could the Rams take advantage and progress to a favourable route to the quarter finals?
Leicester v Derby | Wednesday 19:45 | BBC One
This will be the second time I preview a Leicester home game in the space of four days. This preview won’t be anywhere near as pro-Leicester as the last and the reason for that isn’t me changing my opinion after one defeat.
The Foxes are now well and truly in a relegation scrap and their participation in another cup competition alongside the Champions League will do them no good whatsoever.
The knockout stages of Europe’s premier cup competition begin next week and Claudio Ranieri has to give priority to that competition. It would not be a stretch to say that Leicester may never qualify for the Champions League again, let alone win their group.
Foxes on the rocks
The winners of this replay between Leicester and Derby face a trip to the New Den to face Millwall in the Fifth Round, a very winnable fixture for both.
However, all of the current top-six except Liverpool are still in the FA Cup and so progress beyond the quarter-finals is unlikely for either. Ranieri could choose to field a weak team on Wednesday night and most fans and pundits would have no complaints.
Derby look to be in with a slight chance of promotion again this season. It’s been nine years since their relegation from the Premier League but once again they are hovering just outside the play-offs; in each of the last five seasons they’ve finished in the top-half of the Championship but failed to advance from there.
The Rams form has been mixed of late, just three wins from eight in all competitions.
Chris Martin, Derby’s top scorer in each of the last three seasons, is on-loan at Fulham until the end of the season but his goals have not been replaced in the striking department, although Tom Ince is having a stellar campaign.
A run in the FA Cup would do Steve McClaren’s men plenty of good. They won 2-1 at The Hawthorns in the last round with some great defending on show. West Brom dominated proceedings as they have done at home all season but Derby are very well organised; their defence is the best in the Championship with just 0.76 goals conceded per-game.
At Pride Park Leicester were the dominant side but it was a similar story for the Premier League club. The Foxes goals coming from a Darren Bent own goal and a late Wes Morgan equaliser. I expect that we’ll see a weaker team on Wednesday night than the one we did in the reverse fixture.
Underdogs to progress
Leicester have lost the last two Premier League games without scoring since the original tie with Derby. A run of results that have seen their enigmatic boss become favourite in the sack race with some firms. The trips they have to Swansea and Seville in the next week are far more important to the club than this one.
Should we in fact see a weaker Leicester line-up they could still dominate the game but I expect they’ll struggle to create many clear-cut chances against this County defence and could well be punished on the break by an efficient Derby attack.
All told I think there’s enough of a case to predict that Derby will avoid defeat, you can back that at 13/15 with +0.5 on the Asian Handicap at 188Bet but I’m going one better and that’s Derby to qualify at a juicy 2/1 with BetVictor.
Leicester v Derby – Derby to qualify (2/1 BetVictor)