East Midlands derbies between Derby and Nottingham Forest are always lively affairs, (who can forget Robbie Savage’s scarf waving, Nathan Tyson’s corner flag waving and the 22 man brawl from recent matches) and this weekend’s clash promises to be just as fiery.
Forest are flying high under Billy Davies and currently sit in second place three points behind leader Newcastle. Derby on the other hand are struggling under Nigel Clough and find themselves in 19th place five points above the relegation zone.
So for the first time in 17 years Forest go into the match as the higher placed of the two teams and therefore the favourites to win. The match will see the return of Robert Earnshaw, Lee Camp and Davies to Pride Park to face their former clubs; and in the home side Kris Commons and Clough will be doing likewise.
Recent form suggests this could be a big victory for Forest; they have scored 12 goals in their last four Championship games which included a victory over promotion rivals West Brom and a 5-0 demolition of QPR in their last game.
Derby’s form isn’t as rosy, they have only won two games in the last seven league matches and none of those have come at home. In fact Derby’s last victory at home in the league came way back in November with a 2-1 victory against Reading. Derby did win their last home game, an FA cup victory over Doncaster in the fourth round, which will lift morale although defeat against Plymouth on Tuesday night will have dampened those spirits despite the impressive performance.
Derby will be without central defenders Miles Addison and Dean Leacock, and midfielder Lee Croft will also not be available for selection. Otherwise the Rams have no new injury doubts so Rob Hulse should continue upfront with four players vying for the place alongside him. Steve Davies may well be the favourite although DJ Campbell’s recent league form will put him in serious contention. Former Forest favourite Commons should start on the bench and look to make an impact later in the game. Commons has struggled in previous matches against Forest and Derby cannot afford to have any players performing below 100%.
Forest are expected to be without their centre half Wes Morgan but otherwise they are at full strength, with on-loan full back Nicky Shorey back after suspension.
The referee for the match will be Mr N Swarbrick from Lancashire, he has officiated 23 games this season and has given out 57 yellow cards and 5 reds. It will be the first time Mr Swarbrick has refereed either side this season.
To be successful Robert Earnshaw will need to be kept under control, the striker is in fine goalscoring form at present and he will be Forests dangerman. The Rams will be looking to Rob Hulse to get back to scoring ways and fire the home side to a much needed victory.
Last seasons’ match at Pride Park will be remembered for Stuart Atwell’s horrendous blunder to disallow two “Derby goals” in the final minutes of the match.
The bookmakers have Forest as firm favourites, but as everyone always says – form goes out of the window in derby matches. Taking three points and putting an end to Forest’s unbeaten run would be great but I expect to see a tough game for the Rams and think the best we can hope for is to take a point off our local rivals.