Nottingham Forest vs Derby | Friday 23rd October 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The East Midlands Derby often resembles a significant space in the footballing calendar for both Nottingham Forest and Derby, and whilst Friday night’s encounter won’t include either passionate fanbase, you can bet your bottom dollar that this is a big game.
It has seemingly been the case in recent seasons that one or both clubs heading into this match is in some kind of mini-meltdown and Derby very much hold that tag on this occasion.
Reason being is that whilst Mel Morris might say that Phillip Cocu is not under pressure of losing his job, they have since lost back-to-back matches since he said that, without scoring in reply. Talisman Wayne Rooney sat out the midweek 1-0 loss at Huddersfield due to self-isolating, and he won’t make the trip to the City Ground either.
Good news is that Martyn Waghorn made a return off the bench on Tuesday to return from injury, meaning the Rams will finally have a recognised striker on their books. Veteran Colin Kazim-Richards has also been recruited, but the reality is that Derby have struggled big time without Rooney on the pitch. I just wonder where the goals are going to come from.
Nottingham Forest removed Sabri Lamouchi a few weeks ago, and whilst many from the outside may feel as though that was harsh, the fact he almost lost his job in the off-season meant that starting this campaign poorly was never going to end well for him. They remained in a hangover from their end of season collapse last season and couldn’t shrug that off.
Bringing Chris Hughton into the club will help do that given he is a fresh voice and will demand instant respect considering his standing in the game. He began with a fine 1-0 away win at Blackburn Rovers, and a midweek home draw with Rotherham United stunk of the sort of result they would have suffered last season. They’ll be keen to bounce back against their big rivals, so therefore both teams head into this with something to prove in a way.
Being in bad form means Derby won’t necessarily relish this game. They’ve began the league run losing five of their first six, and their only win was a bit of a smash and grab at Norwich a few weeks ago, when Rooney bailed them out with a last-gasp free kick. That was one of only two goals they’ve scored this season and they’ve shipped ten in reply.
The City Ground club don’t exactly better those numbers in a big way, but the reality is that with Hughton in the building this is a club moving in the right direction. Derby simply are not. I fear Cocu will soon be out of a job and we may be getting to the stage where he needs a result and performance here to get things going again. We saw last season how Lamouchi couldn’t turn it around, so things won’t get any easier for the Dutchman.
Derby are also winless in the last six head-to-head meetings, whilst they’re winless on their last eight visits to Nottingham, including the previous three in succession. They’ve scored in none of their past four trips to this venue, and amassed only three goals in eight visits, as well.
Hughton is beginning to organise his team into a manner where they are hard to beat, and that is generally where a new boss stamps his authority when entering a new club that is struggling for results. Only newly-promoted Wycombe Wanderers have failed to score in more Championship games than Derby so far.
We can get 11/8 (Bet365) on 0 Derby Goals Exact, and I just don’t see how they’re going to score goals at present. Rooney on his set pieces has been their best hope in recent times, and I just question if Cocu is the man to really turn things around and get this team playing again. They’ve reverted to quite a negative formation in recent times, which almost goes completely against what Cocu really wants to do, which is a typical Dutch style of play around keeping the ball.
The issue is they’re not offering enough threat in attack, so I can’t back them to score on this occasion. Forest however have won only two in their last 11 at home, so I have slight reservations about backing them to win to nil for example.
Also, as you know, this ‘Brian Clough Trophy’ encounter is likely to be hotly-contested, even if there is no fans present. These players will be under no illusion regards to exactly what is expected on them, and the ramifications from the supporters should they under-perform and not display the required heart and passion.
As such, I can picture the referee having a fairly busy night. The last encounter featured a red card and four bookings, whilst the other 2019/20 fixture had six yellow’s dished out. Ryan Yates will get stuck in here given he is a local lad, and I like 3/1 (Bet365) on him to receive a caution, and is a bigger price than his central midfield partner Jack Colback.
On the Derby side, you can also get 3/1 (Bet365) on Lee Buchanan suffering a similar feat. Forest are dangerous in the wide areas and I’ll back him over Nathan Byrne, who is more experienced.