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.
We’ve had almost all of the weekend’s Championship action, aside from Monday night’s East Midlands derby. While Nottingham Forest are aiming for a win which would take them into the play-offs, Derby are chasing third place.
The promotion fight in the second tier stretches as far down as 13th, which shows the competitive field. However, this encounter is between two sides in the top seven, who each have ambitions of a top two finish. Given their summer, both clearly have an eye on the Premier League. However, who will gain a promotion advantage in Monday’s biggest clash?
A Play-off Knockout
This weekend’s other matches already caused a stir up and down the table. While we went into depth about what that means for the title race and relegation picture – this game will massively impact the play-offs. Derby could move into a dominant position, with third place within their reach. A victory here will make them just the third side in the league to hit the 40-point mark this season, leaving them only four points shy of the automatic positions.
While a Derby win would move Frank Lampard’s men into automatic promotion contention. It would also leave their rivals outside of the top six. Forest are able to leapfrog the Rams and move into fourth place with a win, further opening the top six chase. It’s only December, but there’s plenty on the line at Pride Park – on top of local pride.
Is it Derby’s Derby to Lose?
The Rams come into this clash as the favourites to claim the points. They’re obviously helped by home advantage, and they’re the side we see coming away with a win on Monday. Form does back up the hosts, given that they’ve won six of their 10 home matches so far this term. Meanwhile, Forest are coming off the back of a loss at home to Preston.
Derby can look back over a run of three wins in four at home, during which they met four sides who are currently in the top 10. They should be expected to add to that run this weekend, with Forest conceding eight times in their last three away outings.
With that form at the back, both teams to score is certainly worth considering. While Forest have their issues in defence, they’ve found the net in 90% of their away trips in the Championship this term. They’ve scored in six matches on the bounce, while the Rams are without a clean sheet in their last six league games at Pride Park. Despite that, they’re a shade under 3/1 to win this game and concede.
Head First Rams
Only five sides have conceded more set-piece goals than Nottingham Forest this season. Meanwhile, Derby have scored close to half of their home goals through set pieces, so they’re likely to push for some joy in that regard. It’s probably a bonus that Forest currently lead the league for corners against away from home this term.
This is a clash which brought plenty of corners last season, with 26 over the course of two meetings. Based on the fact that Derby thrive on set-piece deliveries, this is certainly one for corner fans to keep an eye on, as there’s likely to be some value there.
One to Watch: Lewis Grabban
The striker has 11 goals in his last 11 outings, while he has recent form against Derby. He scored against the Rams for two sides last season, including the season opener with Sunderland. Then, in the penultimate round of the season he found the net against them for Aston Villa, so we expect him to be a threat in Monday’s big clash. However, even with the forward on board – this is going to be a difficult trip for the visitors.
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