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Derby County v Leicester City Preview
Derby County v Leicester City Preview
Friday, 11th Feb 2011 13:58 by Josh Curtis

It’s been a season of ups and downs for both sides with Derby looking like play-off material in the first half of the season and Leicester under Paulo Sousa playing like dead certs for a relegation battle. Leicester have suffered two humiliations in front of the Sky camaras this season and will be hoping to inflict another Derby humiliation on the rams.

However times have changed dramatically as the rams find themselves in an alarming slide down the table in 17th place whereas the Foxes have risen from 24th to 8th in 21 games. The sven factor has certainly settled in at the Walkers stadium as under the Swede Leicester have taken 40 points in 21 games, automatic promotion form. In fact a lot of people say if Sven came to Leicester in july then they would be 2nd by now at least. It is a remarkable turnaround and its no surprise betting companies are favouring City to ‘do a Blackpool’.

On the other side of the East midlands Nigel cloughs Derby have suffered a terrible 2011 so far and to add to the dismal run of form they have now of course lost both fixtures to fierce rivals Nottingham Forest this season. Clough will be eager to avoid a repeat of this feat with Leicester at Pride park tomorrow. The rams lost 2-0 in the reverse fixture back in November where Leicester outplayed their visitors and possibly should have won by much more.

Clough told the Derby website "We haven't played well in our local derbies this season, certainly the away games, which is a contrast to last season. Local derbies are tense affairs which are usually decided by the odd goal, as the Forest game was a few weeks ago, but for a change we would like one to go in our favour." He certainly believes his side have been unlucky in local derbies this season despite being convincingly beaten in two out of the three.

Addressing Leicester’s form he said "Leicester are flying high and after signing a number of players in the last few months we're beginning to see a settled side from them.” In contrast to Derby, Leicester have had major backing from their owners this season and Clough views this of course with great jealousy despite his own side bearing one of the highest wage bills in the league. He goes on to say "Sven has been backed by the new owners and given the run they are on there is no reason at all why they can't make the top six and go up. A lot of people have said they are better than they were last season and I agree, certainly in attack." Leicester have played a totally different brand of football this season, playing football the ‘proper way’ with fluid passing and working the ball into the box. It is a style of football which Derby have tried to play a lot of the season but with limited success, missing that creative spark and pace from the forwards.

Clough recognises that the support on Saturday evening will be vital for his home side and with a travelling contingent from Leicester of 3,000 it’s sure to be a cracking atmosphere.

Leicester manager Sven-goran Eriksson knows that his side have a big battle on their hands tomorrow as they look to maintain an unbeaten run. He told the media yesterday "I don't know if there is ever a good time to meet them. They will be aggressive and they will be doing everything to make life difficult for us”. The former England manager says its best to not look too far ahead in this because of its unpredictability. “I never speak to the players about anything but the next fixture because you cannot prepare for the next two or three. If we win the next game the table will look a little bit better, if we lose we will probably drop down a bit, so we try to win the next game and that's it”. Sven is convinced his side can still make automatic promotion but knows it will be extremely difficult.

“If we want to do what we want to do, we have to win more or less every game, which is extremely difficult, but we're going to try.

"I know that we have a strong squad and I hope something special can happen, but we're playing in an extremely difficult league. We have big ambitions, but we cannot slip next weekend or the weekend after because the games are becoming fewer and fewer.

"Hopefully it will happen this season, but this club is going up to the Premier League. If it happens now then great but, if it shouldn't happen, it will happen next season. I am convinced about that."

Its quite clear that this game is a must win for both sides but for very different reasons and is sure to be an exciting East Midlands derby. My prediction is a 3-1 win for Leicester and Clough maybe getting sacked in the morning.

Photo: Action Images

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