Derby v Fulham | Friday 21st February 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Derby and Fulham head into this Friday night clash not getting the results that they’d have wanted last time out. The Rams took the lead at home to Huddersfield, and in the end where slightly fortunate to earn a draw, whilst Scott Parker’s men crumbled to a most surprising 3-0 home setback to Barnsley.
Both therefore have something to prove in front of the TV cameras.
Derby home comforts
Although they did draw, Derby are still going pretty well at the minute. Remember that they are still in the FA Cup and have a mega clash with Manchester United on the horizon, and they’ve lost just twice across their previous 13 in all competitions. Seven ended in victory.
Strong form in front of their own supporters have certainly been Derby’s bedrock this season, as they’d been most disappointing on the road more often than not. Phillip Cocu’s men last lost at Pride Park in December when Millwall did a bit of a smash-and-grab job. That along with an August loss to Bristol City remain their only losses at home in the current campaign.
Therefore, if you’re going to see the best of Derby this season then it’ll generally be in game like this; at home.
One negative aspect about facing an opponent such as Fulham is that Derby have struggled against the top sides at this level this season. They’ve played the current top-half teams a total of 14 occasions, and only won two. Both wins were only by a one-goal margin too, and they’ve shipped three goals to Bristol City, Brentford and the earlier season meeting at Fulham.
Fulham with a point to prove
Undoubtedly Barnsley were a coupon buster for many last weekend as they earned one of the biggest shocks of the campaign in winning at Craven Cottage. This was 3-0 as well, so not exactly a 1-0 with their backs against the wall. It was a great display from the Tykes, but equally a disappointment from the Cottagers.
So much so, Parker apologised to the fans afterwards, stating he was ‘shocked’, ‘gutted’ and ‘bitterly disappointed’. The players you’d like to think will have felt the same, and it also meant Barnsley have done the double over Fulham this season, so maybe they’re just a bit of a bogey side.
Nevertheless, Fulham need to bounce back, as not too far away they’ll face a run of games versus promotion rivals Leeds, Brentford, Bristol City and Preston; so they really need something against mid-table Derby.
Fulham’s issue this season has been against teams lower in the table, having failed to score in both meetings with Barnsley, whilst also failing to net in games with Stoke, Charlton and Middlesbrough at various points. They therefore won’t necessarily be too overawed travelling to Derby, who will play to win, and that should suit Fulham, who of course will do the same.
The betting angle
There are two different bets I like for this game, and the good news is you won’t have to wait too long for them to both settle hopefully!
Fulham had a day to forget against Barnsley, and you get bet your bottom dollar that Parker will emphasise the right messages in training in the build-up to this one. I really fancy them to come out the blocks all guns blazing, as they won’t have been happy with last Saturday.
Fulham To Score First at 1/1 (Marathon) and Fulham Leading After 30 Minutes at 3/1 (Coral) will be the way we go for this one. We can’t totally discount Derby as they’re in decent form, especially at home, and will hold somewhat outside claims of the play-offs so they really need to win this.
Fulham need the win too, and I hold them the much stronger and more convincing outfit. In fact, I fancy them more on the back of a bad display and results versus lowly Barnsley, and I just feel Derby will be unable to weather the early Cottagers storm, most likely headlined by Aleksandar Mitrovic.