The Rams face another stern test on home soil against A Swansea City side in fourth place in the table and with the meanest defence in the league, although, given the performances in recent weeks they shouldn’t be scared of any side in the division.
The Swans are undefeated in seven games and have only conceded three goals in the league on two occasions. However, they have bagged a treble only once so Derby should not have anything to fear if the defence performs as it did against Newcastle and Forest. If they perform as they did against Preston things might be different but that was an extraordinary game. A goalfest is surely unlikely tomorrow given Swansea’s stingy defence and somewhat goal-shy forward-line.
The last time the sides met, Swansea won 1-0 in a total domination but times have changed since then and The Rams have only lost once in the last six in the league.
On-loan full-back Nicky Hunt hopes the team can continue putting in good performances and picking up important points in home, with this being his side’s fourth consecutive fixture at Pride Park: ‘Our home form has been fantastic while I’ve been here and it is all about keeping that momentum going against Swansea,’ he said.
‘Swansea are a very good passing side, who are vying for promotion but after our recent displays, there is no reason at all why we can’t carry that on.
‘There is a bit of a ‘fear factor’ around Pride Park, so to speak, and perhaps teams will start fearing coming here again.’
Swans boss Paulo Souza acknowledges the trip to Derbyshire will be a tough one for his side: ‘It will be much tougher than it was when we played them at the Liberty,’ said Souza.
‘They are a difficult team in this moment, after the winter break they reinforced their team – they are stronger, better organised, more aggressive and show good quality, it will be a great game for both teams.
‘But hopefully in the end we can get what we want, and what we prepared for all week, and that’s getting the three points.’
Derby County Team News:
The Rams expect to be able to name an unchanged team once again. Gilles Sunu is likely to be in the matchday squad having signed from Arsenal whilst Robbie Savage is just one yellow card away from a two match ban. Stephen Pearson is suffering with his ribs but he should be ok to continue his longest starting streak for the side since joining from Celtic in 2007.
Player to watch: Rob Hulse
Hulse has 10 league goals this season and is coming into some of the best form of his Rams career with strikes against top sides and lots of them.
Swansea City Team News:
Swansea midfielder Leon Britton has recovered from a back injury but forward Craig Beattie is out with a foot problem and left-back Fede Bessone, the scorer when the sides last met, is still sidelined with a calf problem.
Player to watch: Darren Pratley
The midfielder signed from Fulham in 2006 is playing very well at the moment and has scored some important goals for his side this season, most notably a brace in the Wales Derby against Cardiff in a 3-1 success earlier in the season.
Match Facts & Stats
Last 5: Derby County
Preston North End (h) 5-3
Birmingham City (h) 1-2
Newcastle United (h) 3-0
Sheffield United (a) 1-1
Nottingham Forest (h) 1-0
Last 5: Swansea City
Plymouth Argyle (a) 1-1
Newcastle United (h) 1-1
Crystal Palace (a) 1-0
Preston North End (h) 2-0
Coventry City (h) 0-0
West Brom vs. Derby County, Saturday 27 February 2010 15:00, The Coca-Cola Football League Championship