iPro Stadium, Derby
January 05, 2014; 14:15
Championship side Derby County host Chelsea FC n a highly anticipated FA Cup third round fixture at iPro stadium tonight. The last time the Rams defeated the Blues was back in 1999 and Steve McClaren was the assistant manager at Manchester United after being introduced as Steve McClaridge to the media by United chairman Martin Edwards. But they have had limited success against the London club since then and now McClaren is back at Derby leading their charge to secure a promotion to the Premier League.
Team news and tactics
Derby County didn’t make a good start to the campaign this season and won only three of their opening 10 Championship fixtures, but Steve McClaren’s appointment has turned things around and they have made their way up to fourth in the table – seven points behind the league leaders. Derby have been on a wonderful run of form off late and have lost only twice in their last 15 matches, although they are coming into this game on the back of a defeat against Wigan Athletic as Jean Beausejour scored the winner in the second half.
Steve McClaren doesn’t have too many injury concerns at the moment but midfielder Craig Bryson will face a late fitness test ahead of this game. McClaren is expected to rest him in this fixture ahead of their all-important fixture against league leaders Leicester on Friday.
Derby will make only one change to the line-up that was fielded against Wigan as Jeff Hendricks replaces Craig Byson in the midfield. Hendricks is a talented young midfielder, but Derby are sure to miss the goal scoring abilities of Bryson, who has already found the back of the net 11 times this season in the Championship. This means Derby’s top scorer Chris Martin will have to shoulder most of the responsibility in the attack.
Steve McClaren has fairly attacking 4-3-3 formation and Derby have scored the most number of goals among all the clubs in the Championship this season. Their attacking intent can often leave them a bit exposed at the back though, pointed out by the fact that they have also conceded the most number of goals among the top-14 clubs in the Championship this season.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Grant (GK); Forsyth, Buxton, Keane, Wisdom; Hughes, Eustace, Hendrick; Russel, Martin, Ward
Chelsea made a relatively slow start to their Premier League campaign as well, but have picked up the pace in recent times. The London club are currently third in the points table – just two points behind league leaders Arsenal. Chelsea are coming into this game on the back of two crucial wins – first against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, followed by comfortable win over Southampton away from home.
Jose Mourinho men faced a shock League Cup exit at the hands of Sunderland last month as Ki Sung-Yueng scored a later winner for the home side. Mourinho is certain to now at treat this competition with more importance.
Mourinho will be without Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic, Ryan Bertrand and Marco van Ginkel for this fixture. Chelsea are expected to make as many as seven changes to the side that was fielded against Southampton.
Mark Schwarzer will replace Cech in goal, while David Luiz will replace John Terry at the center of the defence. Michael Essien will get a rare start at the center of the midfield alongside Ramires, while Oscar and WIllian, who came on against Southampton and changed the game, will start in attack alongside Kevin De Bruyne. Demba Ba is expected to lead the attack in place of Torres.
Mourinho has said that he is fully aware of the threat that this Derby County side possesses and he will send out a strong team to deal with them. Willian and De Bruyne will be key in the attack as they look to expose the full-backs, who can leave space behind them while attacking.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer (GK); Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Essien, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, De Bruyne; Ba
Players to watch-out for: Chris Martin (Derby County); Willian (Chelsea)
Predictions: Derby County 1-2 Chelsea