DERBY (A); THE PREVIEW

03/10/18

With five wins from five, including three on road, City head to the Midlands for a Bradley Johnson and Jacob Butterfield (remember him?) reunion. Andrew Lawn spoke to the Derby Telegraph's Chris Watson to preview a night under the Pride Park lights.

Andy - How annoying has Derby's new extended name been? It's infuriating to me and I'm not connected to the club...

Chris - Haha. You mean "Frank Lampard's Derby County"? I think it has become a source of amusement to most Rams fans, rather than annoyance (though I suppose it is a bit annoying). As a journalist, I've probably been guilty of doing something similar with other clubs in the past, to be honest.

He does seem to have taken to management quickly though, what have you made of Derby's start to the season?

Lampard says he is thoroughly enjoying life as a manager. He may have to get used to losing a few more games than he was used to as a player - but he's under no illusions about the challenge facing him and his players in the Championship. They've made a decent start to the season, with a few setbacks along the way. The team are looking for a bit of consistency now, having followed their brilliant cup win at Manchester United with defeat at Bolton on Saturday.

It's nicely set-up for a good game Wednesday, with City coming in on the back of 4 straight wins. Do you expect a reaction to the Bolton defeat?

That will be the plan. Derby played very well in their previous home game, coming from behind to beat Brentford 3-1. And since losing 4-1 to Leeds in their first home game of the season, they have been unbeaten at Pride Park, so they will be determined to keep that little run going.

At the weekend, Bolton sat back and got men behind the ball, defending in numbers, whereas I expect Norwich will pose a slightly different challenge. As you say, it should be a good game.

We will, we are happy to sit deep away from home and play on the counter, but we will certainly try and dominate the ball. In terms of the game, where have Derby been strong, and where might we get some joy?

Lampard has implemented a different style of play to that of his predecessor Gary Rowett. He wants his side to dominate possession and build from the back, where possible.

Without the ball, they play a high-intensity, pressing game to try to win the ball back as quickly as possible. The team are still adapting to this style, so can occasionally be caught in possession in dangerous areas. And if Norwich are good enough to beat Derby's press, they might have some joy on the break.

Sounds like two sides that are evenly matched and set up. Could be a cracker. Or dire. What, if anything have you made to City's start to the season?

They seem to be picking up a bit of momentum - winning four league matches in a row is an impressive achievement in this division. They beat Middlesbrough, and I can't see them losing too many games this season. They also seem to have a couple of promising young players coming through.

Momentum is spot on. Performances were good early on but not collecting the points those early showings warranted resulted in a big confidence blip. Thankfully the win over Boro sparked us back into life. So shall we shake hands on a draw now then?

Well, Derby have only drawn one of their 10 league games so far - but it's not a bad shout. I think most Rams fans will be holding out for a win, though.

Thinking further ahead, what's the expectation like at Pride Park? Play-offs or 'there-or-thereabouts'?

Exactly that, I'd say. Derby have been pushing for promotion for a good few seasons now, and this is no different, even though they have a new boss (in his first managerial role) and a much-changed squad. I think everyone at the club will be aiming for a top-six finish, at least - but it won't be easy.

Let's finish on a prediction. I'm going for that draw we kind of agreed on earlier. 1-1.

Fair enough. Just to be different, I'll go 2-1 Derby

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Andrew Lawn returns from a long absence spent previewing and reviewing matches, with an actual thinkpiece. This one is on the idea that fans, himself included, are increasingly seeking footballing philosophies in lieu of clubs having any discernible identity of their own in an increasingly corporate footballing landscape. /

Dughall McCormick has had to endure some disappointing away trips in his time. This was not one of them, in fact he seems to have actively enjoyed it. Madders not giving the travelling hoards a song is a poor show though. Tut tut James.