Derby vs Nottingham Forest | Friday 26th February 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The Brian Clough Trophy is on the line in this East Midlands Derby as Derby welcome rivals Nottingham Forest to Pride Park on Friday night.
Thanks to an upturn in form under the stewardship of Wayne Rooney and Chris Hughton, both sides enter this contest in good form, which has gone some way to easing their respective relegation fears. Nevertheless, neither are quite out of the woods yet, meaning three points under the floodlights remains just as important as local bragging rights in the eyes of the supporters.
Over recent times, it is Friday’s away team who have enjoyed the better in the latest head-to-head battles. In fact, Forest are unbeaten in the last seven renewals, although four of those have ended in draws. Furthermore, they’re actually winless on their past five visits to the Rams’ back garden, and won only four times at the home of Derby since the beginning of the 1990s.
Whilst Derby have indeed improved over the course of January and February, they ultimately still remain a very ‘up or down’ team. That is because of their last 14 games in both league and cup, they’ve won eight and lost six, meaning therefore they have gained no draws in that time. Nine of those however would finish under the 2.5 goal mark, so these games mostly remain tight with very little separated the two teams.
That is something we can say following Hughton’s men over previous weeks, too. Their last four matches has produced just three goals overall, with 10 of their past 16 in league or cup also featuring a maximum of two goals.
It doesn’t necessarily mean we should discount goals on Friday however considering three of their last five on the road in league and cup actually ended above this number. One worry is that only four times since the start of 2010 have they netted 2+ against Derby.
Whilst draws haven’t been the name of the game for Derby for a while now, I do still think that is a probable outcome on this occasion. Given both teams have improved their form, I don’t think either necessarily go into this clash in as much pressure as it could have been.
Whilst you could argue that means it opens this up to being an end-to-end encounter with plenty of goals, there is still a rivalry on the line, fans or not, and the last two have been played behind-closed-doors and both finished 1-1. 9/4 (Bet365) on a stalemate isn’t a bad shout at all.
Naturally, cards have to come into the equation when we focus on local derbies especially. There is no love lost between these two sides, and the last meeting at Pride Park featured four yellow cards and one red card after the 80th-minute, so at some point I’d expect this game to probably take off.
It is again likely to be a testing playing surface, which in turn will likely lead to a scrappy game, and so the midfield battle could be where this is won or lost.
The two names which came to mind for me were Graeme Shinnie and Cafu.
Shinnie has taken on an important role in the Rooney setup, and in a match like this he’ll take on additional importance. He is ranked joint-top alongside Nathan Byrne for bookings in the Rams ranks, whilst also ranked second in terms of average fouls conceded in the squad of players we’d consider regular starters. 15/8 (Bet365) on him getting a card looks about right.
Cafu offers extra value priced at 7/2 (Bet365) to receive the same outcome, and has to be worthy of consideration. Local boys Ryan Yates was my initial thought when conceding Forest cards, but Cafu is playing in a deeper role these days and just feel he can be got at from a defensive perspective. This will be his first appearance in this particular game, and is ranked joint-third within the squad for bookings this season.
Of Nottingham Forest’s last nine league bookings, six of them have come from players I’d classify as midfielders, and Cafu gets my call.