Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
Among the highlights of this weekend’s Championship action is Derby’s clash with Brentford. The Rams were among the early favourites for the top six, and they’ve managed to hang in the race. They’ve had some setbacks in their push for a place in the play-offs, but overall it’s been a solid start for former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
However, the visit of Brentford is a key test for the Rams. It’s not only matching them up against the side in third place in the Championship, but a team who Derby measure their style against. For a new manager like Lampard, this is a big test early in his career. With Brentford visiting ahead of the Rams’ trip to Old Trafford, this is a big week in his new career.
Lampard Faces Familiar Face
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) September 16, 2018
A little over eight years ago, Frank Lampard’s touted successor came on for his Champions League debut. Chelsea were searching for a new star turn in midfield, and a homegrown success story after years of waiting. Josh McEachran made his debut in a substitute appearance against MSK Zilina. At the time, he was being built up as Chelsea’s own Jack Wilshire, and he was a favourite of then-manager Carlo Ancelotti.
However, the revolving door policy Chelsea take to their managerial hot-seat didn’t help him. McEachran is just one of many who failed to break through, and he’s an example to the likes of Ethan Ampadu and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The previous eight years brought a host of loan spells for Lampard’s potential replacement, but he eventually set up home at Brentford.
The midfielder has made seven starts in Brentford’s first eight matches, playing a vital role in their possession based game. After failing to make the grade at the very top of the Premier League, he is now pushing to rejoin the top flight with the Bees, who are flying high after the early period of the campaign. While he hasn’t grown in to a player like Lampard at Griffin Park, he has become the perfect midfielder to play under Lampard the manager.
Lampard’s Bees Test
Lampard started his reign at Derby by promising a possession-based style of play. His transfer moves added more strength in attack, but he wanted to promote a passing approach throughout his whole side, which makes McEachran the perfect player for Lampard’s vision for Derby.
There may have been early teething problems, but so far Lampard has built a side who mostly look comfortable in possession. While their results haven’t been perfect, they have been consistently dominant on the ball. Overall they rank third for the number of passes attempted so far, and they’re third for average possession. That puts them a place behind Brentford in both categories.
Leeds lead the way in both terms, but they’ve got a much more dynamic approach. They’ve got a signature style, which comes from boss Marcelo Bielsa. The manager known as El Loco isn’t exactly patient, which is the kind of style both Brentford and Derby are pushing to have. Being comfortable on the ball is a good way to prepare for the Premier League, but can Derby maintain that across the season?
This clash is the biggest test for Derby so far, as they will face a real midfield battle against Brentford. This should be a really good game to watch, with both sides looking to get the ball out from the back. The main difference is that this is a style which has come from the top down at Brentford, while Derby have changed due to Lampard. The new boss came in aiming to turn a rigid side into one which plays progressive football. The stats so far show that it’s clearly working, and that’s an impressive feat so early in his managerial career. However, there’s an even bigger test coming this weekend as they prepare to host the pass masters.
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Leaders Looking to Regain Form
Leeds managed to end a three game winless run by beating Preston in midweek. That 3-0 has them in good form going in to this weekend’s meeting with Birmingham. The leaders will need to get some momentum going to keep themselves clear at the top. On top of that, we can see problems for them in the run-in. That means it’s crucial for Bielsa’s side to get some form going this Autumn.
Read More: Leeds United vs Birmingham Predictions
Meanwhile, Tony Pulis will be trying to keep his Middlesbrough side in touching distance with the leaders. They’re a point behind at the top, after making a strong start in their push for the top flight. Tony Pulis is expected to get the job done, even though the Welshman has no interest in the sort of football Derby and Brentford prefer.
Read More: Middlesbrough vs Swansea Predictions
Boro host Swansea this weekend, and they are out for three points. Pulis has managed to install a brilliant defence at the Riverside. They’ve conceded in just one of their last seven Championship games. They bounced back from two games without a win by beating Bolton in midweek, and now they’re aiming to build on that by carrying on their winning streak at home.
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