Derby County v Cardiff City: Can Phillip Cocu's Rams get season going with victory?

Can Derby kick-start their season against Cardiff?
Can Derby kick-start their season against Cardiff?

Derby boss Phillip Cocu is expecting the Rams to get their season going when they welcome Cardiff to Pride Park on Friday night.

Both sides come into the game on the back of the international break and both would have hoped for more during the first month of the campaign.

Derby's opening-day victory at Huddersfield remains the only success on their tally, with two losses and three draws following that game at the John Smith's Stadium.

They were easily beaten at Brentford in their last league game before the break, that's alongside a convincing defeat to East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.

Derby could consider themselves unlucky prior to those fixtures that they didn't have a couple of extra points on their tally though.

The Rams have proven to be a somewhat creative side under Cocu with an ability to build up play from the back and create goalscoring opportunities.


Derby's 2019/20 season by numbers

  • Shots per game: 12 (13th out of 24)
  • Shots on target per game: 3.3 (16th out of 24)
  • Shots conceded per game: 15.3 (7th out of 24)
  • Possession: 52.5% (8th out of 24)
  • Successful passes: 80.8% (4th out of 24)
  • Key passes: 50 (16th out of 24)

While they sit low in the total number of key passes, the reason behind that is due to their lack of long balls forward for potential chances to score.

Derby have the lowest number of 'long key passes' in the division with three - three short of Huddersfield, Hull and Preston above - but their number of 'short key passes' puts them in the top-nine.

The main problem has been finishing those chances. Shots on target per game sits at a low tally of 3.3 - that's well short of the 5.2 posted by Leeds and Fulham at the top.

The style of play under Cocu allows creative individuals to attempt to generate attacks themselves. Only Reading have seen more dribbles per game than Derby this season.

That's benefitted Tom Lawrence in particular. The winger is in the top five for successful dribbles this season while full-back Max Lowe is also floating around the same number with one less than his team mate.

The Lawrence/Lowe link-up on the left remains key for Derby's attempted attacks down the flank.

Cocu remaining confident

Derby County manager Phillip Cocu
Phillip Cocu is staying confident about his Derby side

"We don't look back too much, we did that already, and now we have to look forward," Cocu told Rams TV.

"We must proceed ahead full of energy in the next couple of games.

"But sometimes they need a break, they need to be fair to themselves when they perform like they did, perform as a team and to our fans and the club.

"If you have a break you can reflect, have some distance from football, but also it means if you come back on the Monday that is forgotten and it is 'ok, which games are coming up?'

"This energy is something we see on the pitch, we talk about it and it gives all the team a positive feeling - definitely about the game on Friday."

Cocu also admitted that he isn't afraid to show an angry side when the Rams are performing at the standards expected.

The defeat at Brentford was partly down to arrogance, he believes, and his half-time team talk saw him break his usual calm persona.

"They [the players] have seen different faces of me because normally I am calm on the side of the pitch, or here [talking to the media], and on many occasions on the training pitch," Cocu said at his pre-match press conference.

"But I have also a different side of me. Sometimes at half-time, or when it is needed.

"Maybe they have to get used to it when it happened first time, but that was not the Brentford game.

"I explained to the group, to the players, why I said the comments I did, and I think it is important for them to know that there was a reason."

A Rams win on Friday?

The dejected Cardiff players after defeat to Reading
The dejected Cardiff players after defeat to Reading

While Derby's start to the season hasn't been great, Cardiff can't boast much better with the former Premier League club struggling to adapt to life back in the Sky Bet Championship.

Neil Warnock's side have won two, drawn two and lost two in their opening six games and have just one point from a possible nine away from home.

Alongside that start, their preparations have been hit by the late return of midfielder Leandro Bacuna from international duty.

Bacuna played for Curacao in the Concacaf Nations League tie in Haiti on Monday and will fly direct to the East Midlands to link up with the Cardiff squad.

"It's scandalous really how countries can get away with things like that," Bluebirds boss Warnock said.

Sky Bet odds: Derby to win - 7/5 | Draw - 12/5 | Cardiff to win - 17/10

"I know we have got to do it for television because of the finance, but (playing on) Friday night after an international break doesn't help us when they are going all over the world.

"You need a manager like (Wales boss) Ryan Giggs who says he is not going to play (Derby forward Tom) Lawrence in a friendly on Monday because he has got a big game on the Friday.

"Unfortunately that's against us. We need a manager like him with all our players. It's not been easy at all - it's been horrendous really.

"We understand the situation of some of the international countries and it can be difficult financially.

"But we don't expect them to come back just over 24 hours before a game. That's a bit over the top."

The stats behind the fixture

Derby celebrate a Tom Lawrence goal
Derby celebrate a Tom Lawrence goal
  • Derby have lost just one of their last five home league games against Cardiff (W2 D2 L1), losing 3-4 in February 2017 under Steve McClaren.
  • Cardiff City have won just two of their last 10 Championship meetings with Derby (W2 D4 L4).
  • Derby have lost their last two matches in all competitions 3-0 against Nottingham Forest and Brentford – the Rams haven’t lost three consecutive games by 3+ goals since November 1946.
  • Cardiff have completed just 916 short passes in the Championship this season – only Millwall have completed fewer (805).
  • Derby have won none of their last four home games in all competitions (W0 D2 L2), last enduring a longer run under Nigel Pearson in August and September 2016 (six games).
  • Cardiff’s Josh Murphy has been involved in four of their last eight league goals (1 goal, 3 assists).

Odds correct at 1500 BST (12/09/19)

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