Derby County vs. Nottingham Forest takes on a new dimension this season.
For the past few campaigns, The Rams have been eager to claim points to achieve Championship survival whilst the neighbours from down the A52 have been accruing points to try (and ultimately fail) to reach the Premier League.
This year the roles are reversed with Forest sitting in the relegation zone and Derby comfortably in midtable, with an outside chance of reaching the play-offs come the end of the season.
That said, this fixture often goes against the grain and Nigel Clough’s men should, of course, be vigilant despite being tagged favourites for the first time in a long while.
Steve Cotterill will be desperate to get the Forest fans on his side and there would be no better way to achieve this that beating local rivals on their own patch.
It will be easy for neither side and should be yet another passionate and thrilling affair.
Nigel Clough knows what the fans in the local area think about the fixture: ‘This is a big one for the supporters and – as well as Leicester City in three weeks – is the game our fans look at with added importance,’ he told Rams Player.
‘As a manager you just want your team to relax and perform, as we have done at Pride Park in the majority of games lately.
‘The best example of that is the win at the City Ground in September. Despite everything that went on in the early minutes we kept our composure and played our football. We don’t want the players to get lost in the excitement; we want them to keep their composure and play.’
Clough’s opposite number Steve Cotterill has called for a sensible but passionate performance from his side: ‘We’ve got to make sure we play with fire in our bellies but with ice in our heads,’ Cotterill told the club’s official website.
‘We’ve got to make sure we keep all of our players on the pitch – it’s important that we do that.
‘By the time the game comes we will be prepared enough and ready for the challenge… one that we’re all looking forward to.’
The Rams Team News:
Nathan Tyson should face his old teammates from the start after impressing against Barnsley. Here’s hoping that the curse of the former player strikes again.
Theo Robinson faces a late fitness test and Steven Davies can play without wearing a mask.
Player to watch: Nathan Tyson
Speedy frontman Tyson zoomed straight onto the treatment table following his summer move from the City Ground.
He has yet to truly start his Derby career and there would no better way to break his goalscoring duck against his former side.
Score tomorrow, and the flag incident it forgotten.
The Reds Team News:
A defensive shake-up could be on the cards for the Forest team with Danny Higginbotham and Scott Wootton signing loan deals until the end of the season.
Skipper Luke Chambers should return to the side following a suspension.
Player to watch: Marlon Harewood
Whilst not exactly a prolific striker, Harewood always seems to have his good days against The Rams.
The now rather bulky former West Ham forward netted 56 times in 204 games in his first spell with Forest, an impressive tally, but has only notched 22 times in the last five years.
Nevertheless, he has proven in the past that he knows where the goal is and if he plays against The Rams like he usually does, he will no doubt get on the scoresheet.
Match Facts & Stats
Derby County last 5:
Barnsley (a) 2-3
Stoke City (h) 0-2
Burnley (a) 0-0
Coventry City (h) 1-0
Crystal Palace (h) 1-0
Nottingham Forest last 5:
Burnley (h) 0-2
West Ham United (a) 1-2
Leicester City (a) 0-4
Southampton (h) 0-3
Leicester City (h) 0-0
Millwall vs. Derby County, Sat 11th February, 12:15pm, The Championship