The Royals travel to Frank Lampard’s Derby County this weekend in the hope of securing their first back-to-back victory of the season. Derby come into the game off the back of a penalty-shootout victory over Premier League strugglers Southampton. They'll have to hope that some of their key players came through the game unscathed and, more importantly, aren’t too tired after a long evening on Wednesday.
There is an obvious threat when facing Derby, and that’s direct free-kicks. The quality of Harry Wilson from dead ball situations is second to none, and the Royals should be really worried if they concede any fouls around the penalty area. The Welshman has scored from five direct free kicks so far this season, and there is not another player in the Championship you would rather have on a set-piece.
Counter-attacks are also a major strength for the Rams, especially with the pace of players like Jack Marriott and Harry Wilson. Fortunately, the Royals have a relatively quick back-line so, conceding against counter-attacks shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The majority of Derby’s play so far this season has come down the wings, with only 25% coming through the middle. 40% has been down the right-hand side, meaning they might try and exploit the inexperience of Royals left-back Omar Richards.
However, a key weakness of the Rams’ is that they are liable to allowing their opposition to put crosses into the box. If the Royals can attack down the wings like they did last week against Forest, we should manage some success.
Another weakness of Lampard’s side is defending from set-pieces. 21% of the goals they have conceded so far this season have come from dead-ball situations. If José Gomes’ side can put in some decent deliveries, they might be able to get some success from set-pieces.
I am feeling optimistic again and I’m going to go with 2-1 to The Royals. The mood in the camp seems high and The Rams will have lots of tired legs in their side, and I think the Royals will be able to secure consecutive victories for the first time this season.
It was obvious to the see the relief in the players faces after the victory last weekend, and hopefully that encourages them to keep it going and hopefully turn a corner in their season.