Third-placed Brentford will look to keep the pressure on the Championship’s top two, as they travel up the M1 to face play-off chasing Derby.
The Bees sit five points off West Brom in second with four games left, and if it wasn’t for a shaky start to the season would be in prime position to claim an automatic promotion spot.
However, the Baggies still have to play fourth-placed Fulham and should they keep up their current form, starting with a win at Pride Park, Brentford could jump Slaven Bilic’s team to reach the Premier League for the first time ever.
Should they fail in that mission, their opponents in the play-offs could be their hosts on Saturday. Derby have also been in good form since the re-start, and have propelled themselves into contention for the final playoff spot currently occupied by Cardiff.
The Rams sit in ninth, having been 17th in January, three points off Neil Harris’ Bluebird’s meaning they cannot afford to drop any more points if they want a chance to return to the top flight, for the first time since 2008.
When and Where
The match will kick- off at 12:30pm on Saturday 11th July, taking place at Derby’s Pride Park Stadium.
When these two faced off at Griffin Park in August, it was only the 35th time these two have played each other in competitive action.
On that occasion, a goal from Bryan Mbeumo and a double from Ollie Watkins gave the West London side a 3-0 victory. However, it was only Brentford’s 11th win in this fixture overall; with the Rams edging out that column with 15 wins and the remaining nine fixtures being drawn.
The Bees have lost five of their last seven visits to Pride Park, with the last victory being a 2-1 win in the semi-final second leg of the very prestigious1993 Anglo- Italian Cup.
Derby have loved a red- card as of late, having picked up three in the five games since the re-start. Fortunately for them the latest player to jump on that trend, Louie Sibley, has had his red card rescinded, after it was decided he hadn’t stamped on West Brom’s Dara O’Shea but was just trying to escape after the Irishman had trapped Sibley’s leg to take home with him later.
Tom Lawrence will also be available for the Rams after he has served his time on the naughty step for his red card against Reading, but Martyn Waghorn still has two games left for his dismissal against Nottingham Forest.
On the injury front, Jack Marriott and Andre Wisdom are definite absentees for the Rams, whereas Duane Holmes remains a doubt after limping off at the Hawthorns. Both Florian Jozefzoon and Max Lowe we’re not 100% in the week, but both appeared on the bench against the Baggies and could feature on Saturday.
In contrast, Brentford’s absentee list looks a lot shorter with the only recent concern being midfielder Shandon Baptiste, who missed the game against Charlton in midweek but could return in this fixture.
Other than that, the only players missing for Thomas Frank are Sergi Canos and Nikos Karelis, who continue to recover from long- term layoffs.
Last 5 Games
(L) 2-0 v West Brom
(D) 1-1 v Nottingham Forest
(W) 1-0 v Preston
(W) 2-1 v Reading
(W) 3-2 v Millwall
Phillip Cocu’s woolly boys have only lost once since the Championship came back, on Wednesday to West Brom, and as previously stated this has propelled them into the playoff hunt. The loss at the Hawthorns was preceded by a 97th-minute equaliser to get a 1-1 draw in the Brian Clough derby against Nottingham Forest and before that three consecutive victories.
However, the clash with Thomas Frank’s team starts a run of three difficult games for Derby; with matches against Cardiff and Leeds up next before a final day trip to out of form Birmingham.
(W) 2-1 v Charlton
(W) 3-0 v Wigan
(W) 3-0 v Reading
(W) 1-0 v West Brom
(W) 2-0 v Fulham
If Derby’s form has been good, Brentford’s has been phenomenal, and as a QPR fan that hurts me to say. Even without Bryan Mbeumo, who missed the West London derby against Fulham after testing positive for COVID-19, Brentford’s attack came back sharp, and since Mbeumo’s return it hasn’t stopped scoring; hitting 11 goals in five wins. The highlight of those wins being a 1-0 victory at home to West Brom, which still gives them a chance of automatic promotion.
The latest of the five victories was Tuesday’s home tie against Charlton, where despite going behind the Bees scored two late goals to salvage a 2-1 win. Brentford’s run-in looks a little easier than both their host and the Baggies, with a visit from Preston coming before two games against strugglers Stoke and Barnsley.
Thomas Frank’s team has been in blistering form and I’m sure are the bookies favourite to add another win on Saturday lunchtime. However, this won’t be an easy game for them and is the kind of tie they can slip up on. So, I’m going to say points shared at Pride Park.
Match Preview written by Jamie Perry