|Sunderland 1 v 1 Derby County|
Friday, 4th August 2017 Kick-off 19:45
D.J's Match Preview: Rams Need Full 90 To Deliver Valentines Day Massacre
Tuesday, 14th Feb 2017 13:16 by Daniel J Sewart
Steve McClaren will want his team to emulate their 2nd half performance from Saturday for 90 minutes tonight when they welcome Cardiff to Pride Park.
It’s a Valentines clash and Rams fans will want to feel the same love they did in the second 45 on the weekend instead of leaving with the broken heart they experienced at half time.
I would expect a similar team to take the field to the one that finished the match on Saturday but I do think that Bradley Johnson will keep his starting spot. Hopefully he can direct some of his frustration on the opposition rather than his shirt this time around.
Bryson is only likely to hold a starting spot if Hughes did not pull up well as he looked a bit out of sorts against Bristol but may just need some games in his legs.
Butterfield should be rewarded for a good performance, as should Anya who deserves to keep his spot as the second wide man. Along with Ince they both look likely to make things happen and his work rate cannot be questioned.
Russell could also come into contention but it is time for Anya to be given an extended run in the team and a chance to lock down a starting spot, especially after Camara threw away his chance with a very poor performance against Bristol.
The back four should remain the same though Shackell may be considered after Pearce was not his normal self on the weekend. Olsson should also be looking over his shoulder if McClaren decides to swing any more changes with both Christie and Lowe available and Baird able to swap to the other side if necessary.
Nugent is most likely to have to continue to be patient after Bent’s brace on the weekend but the temptation may become great to start both after they seemed to work quite well together on Saturday – especially as they both play different roles.
To do this it would mean the team would probably have to lose the defensive midfielder – something that Steve may not be willing to do from the off but after the weekend – who knows what he might be willing to try!?
Looking at the visitors, Cardiff have defensive issues with Lee Peltier recovering from ankle surgery while Bruno Manga will miss with a knee injury. This will not help the fact that they have not kept consecutive away clean sheets since October 2015 – and after not conceding at Leeds last time on the road – the Rams should be looking to knock a few past them.
Rickie Lambert was used as a sub during the Bluebirds win at Leeds and could have done enough to earn himself a starting spot. The Rams will also need to keep an eye on the attacking threat of Zahore who will have taken confidence after scoring on Saturday. Whittingham is also dangerous from set pieces – so conceding fouls in dangerous positions must be avoided at all costs.
It is easy to think of the Rams season as a stop start affair but if you take away the dismal start under Nigel Pearson – the season has been good and included a long winning run that in any other season would have you perched near the top of the table.
The draw at Bristol was disappointing but the positives were there as Derby found the will to fight back. The main factor is despite being better than most this season since the return of the Mac, the Rams drift in and out of games and often win their games in spurts of attacking brilliance, coupled with a miserly defence.
It is when one of these two falter that the wheels often wobble, or as in the first half on Saturday, completely come off.
I personally think it will be more of a kick up the rear than anything else for the Rams and fully expect them to come out firing on Saturday. For me selection will have a lot to do with it as McClaren will get more out of his experienced chargers this time around.
Normal service will be resumed at Pride Park and the Rams to win 3-1. Bent to continue his scoring run - with Anya and Ince to deliver a Valentines day massacre.
C’mon Derby we want to feel the love – Happy Valentines Day to you all!
Last Time They Met:
Cardiff 0 v 2 Derby
Cardiff City Stadium - September 27th 2016
Cardiff 0 v 2 Derby
Cardiff City Stadium – 18th September 2004
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