|Sunderland 1 v 1 Derby County|
Friday, 4th August 2017 Kick-off 19:45
G.M's Match Preview: Rams Must Win To Turn Dreams Into Reality
Tuesday, 4th Apr 2017 06:00 by George Martin
Derby County welcome Fulham to Pride Park tonight, in what is shaping up as an interesting and entertaining fixture.
With Derby still having a mathematical chance of getting in the play offs, a win for Derby could close the gap on Fulham to five points. However, they will have competition as Norwich, Preston and Sheffield Wednesday will also be looking to close that gap.
Olsson is a doubt for the Rams with a twisted ankle so Max Lowe may have to deputise while Johnson took a knock after a few hefty challenges last Friday, but Rowett is hopeful the combative midfielder can shake it off and start the game.
Injuries permitting, Derby are likely to start with an unchanged team having played well and deservedly beat QPR. Although the victory was well earned, it was nearly a case of Deja vu for the seventh time this season when QPR hit the post in injury time with a header from a corner. On closer inspection, it looked like it was Darren Bent's man who nearly sunk the Rams.
The back four will remain much the same with Keogh captaining the side from centre back, Olsson attacked well from left back against QPR on Tuesday and will look to do the same again against the London side if he is fit to play. Baird will have to keep a very close eye on teenage sensation Sessegnon who, if he starts, will play wide left.
Johnson and Bryson will look the win the battle in midfield. Johnson has been particularly good in recent weeks at breaking up play and putting a foot in. However, he needs to time his headers better as he often jumps a little too early. If Bradley misses, then Will Hughes may be given the opportunity to impress his new boss.
Vydra will play just behind Nugent. His energy, intelligence and goal threat enables Derby to link up play quite well from the midfield. However, he may need to drop back a little more into midfield to help out for this game, as Fulham are very good at quickly exploiting any space.
Ince and Russell will provide the width for The Rams. Russell has admitted his performances have not been good enough this season. It's hard to criticise someone who works hard for the team every game and seems like a genuine guy, but his lack of quality and decision making in the final third is just not consistently good enough if Derby want to get promoted.
Derby's opponents Fulham are a little bit of a surprise package this season, but they have a good manager and are a huge threat going forward having scored 67 goals this season.
One of their main goal threats, Chris Martin is ineligible due to his loan agreement. At times, the whole Martin transfer/loan agreement saga became farcical with the two clubs trying to put their own spin on the story.
Fulham possess other good attacking threats in Sigurdsson, Aluko and Ayite. Going forward, they have a good balance of pace, power, intelligence and finishing quality, hence the number of goals they have scored.
They also have a good balance of players who are good on the ball and work hard. These come in the form of Malone, Johansen and new Scotland international Cairney.
Fulham have delivered mixed results recently. They brilliantly beat Newcastle away 3-1, lost 3-1 at home to Wolves, drew with Blackburn and beat Rotherham away on Saturday 2-1.
Quite simply, if Derby want to turn a Premier League dream into reality, then they must win this game. It will be a tough fixture and much will depend on which Fulham team turn up.
Will it be the one that battered Newcastle or the team that lost at home to Wolves? Let’s hope for the latter of the two.
Derby needs to be very aware of the way Fulham attack on the break. If Derby can force Fulham on the back foot and break up their attacks on the half way line, then The Rams have a good chance.
Dream or Reality?!
Derby to win 2-1 with Vydra and Ince to score.
Last Time They Met:
Fulham 2 v 2 Derby
Craven Cottage - 17th December 2016
Derby 1 v 0 Fulham
14th May 1983 - The Baseball Ground
Pre - Match Previews:
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Photo: Action Images
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