At least Spurs
appear to be in the same boat as the Premiership Champions,
as we approach our third league game in a state of crisis.
In comparison, one point from two games has seen the Rams
make a fine start which they are very happy with.
So, all the
pressure will be on Tottenham, with the County side having
nothing to lose, other than more points. With a good
draw against Portsmouth on the opening day, they were hit by
a single goal defeat at table-topping Manchester City in
midweek. As for Spurs, two straight defeats sees them
sitting way below Derby and start the game as underdogs.
of the Tottenham team is all wrong at the moment. No
left sided midfielder, a surfeit of riches in attack, injury
hit defence and a lack of confidence. The team that
has been playing is not the first choice XI and perhaps,
when they can take to the pitch, it might be different.
the players who do pull on the lilywhite shirt need to
battle for results. Starting on Saturday.
Derby will be
no pushover, as Billy Davies has made them an organised and
tight unit, who set the pace in the Championship until the
end of the season when they dropped into the play-off places
and then won through against West Bromwich Albion. Not
perhaps the most flamboyant team around, they work hard for
each other and will give Tottenham a difficult afternoon.
They know that they are fragile at the moment and will go
out to give them a going over in the 90 minutes.
At the back,
West Ham did not see the best of goalkeeper Stephen Bywater
and he can be a good shot-stopper, but his handling and his
kicking are not the best, so pressure on him and players
following up could benefit from any dropped balls. His
height is not great, but he does have agility on his side.
The back four
also contains another West Ham old boy, who has now returned
to his former home. Tyrone Mears was a defender
Tottenham looked at, but the Irons got in first, but never
used him as he had been at Pride Park. An athletic
full back and one who likes to attack, someone who could
play wide left might be able to take advantage of his forays
up the line. On the other flank, Jay McEveley is a
strong tackler, but one who is a bit on the heavy side, so
Routledge might benefit from being up against him.
Dangerous from set-pieces, he, Claude Davis and Darren Moore
can all go up for corners and free-kicks. The former
Sheffield United defender was with Davies at Preston and he
re-joined the boss to stay in the Premiership, while Moore
is a player with top flight experience with Portsmouth and
West Bromwich Albion. Neither have been truly
impressive, but they are honest journeymen and that they
give everything for the cause. With two of our many
forwards up against them, they should be too much for the
Derby defence. Hopefully.
contains Craig Fagan, Matt Oakley, Andy Todd and Stephen
Pearson line-up to produce a tough and hard-working section
of the team. Todd has returned to his spiritual home
where his Dad was a legend and his tempestuous streak will
have to be calmed to give the side the ball-winning ability
it needs in the middle of the park. Pearson is a
flighty winger, while Fagan works up and down the line after
years playing up front. Matt Oakley is perhaps the
most interesting one of the four. Having had a good
early career with Southampton, he moved to the Midlands and
has had a great affect on the Rams team, becoming captain
and scoring some notable and unusual goals to add to his
drive from midfield. Together they provide a strong
basis to send the forwards on their way.
Luton striker Steve Howard is a bit of a battering ram and
his strength is his forte, rather than guile, but he has
scored regularly wherever he has played and alongside him,
Rob Earnshaw is a nippy striker with a knack for hitting the
target. Both are being relied on to score the goals to
keep the County side up and form a decent partnership.
An option up front or played in midfield s Gary Teale, who
can operate wide as a supply line to the front two.
injuries, I would go for Bent and Defoe up front, with
Routledge on the right side of midfield from the start.
Keane could play in the middle, but I think that he might
have to settle for a place on the bench, while I would use
Tom Huddlestone to pick out the passes to open up his former
team's defence. Hud could either sit in front of the
back four to give them some extra protection or even play
alongside Gardner, as he played a similar role when he first
started at Pride Park.
the team lines up, I hope there will support for them, as it
will need a lot of backing from the crowd to boost their
confidence and feel as though they don't have to beat the
Spurs fans as well as Derby.
their backs are against the wall, I hope they have the
willingness to pull something out of the bag and get a
decent reward for the supporters as well as themselves ...
: - Tottenham Hotspur 2
Derby County 1
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click
gives his take on the game against the Rams ...
Having watched their game at Man City on
Weds on Football First I would expect them to line up the
same way. That is in a 4-1-4-1 formation – Bywater, Mears,
Davis, Moore, Griffin; Todd, Fagan, Oakley, Jones, Pearson,
I was actually surprised to see Derby
take the initiative in the first half and attack City. Fagan
and Pearson regularly found themselves in advanced areas to
support Howard. Derby, if given the space will look to
thread balls into Howard’s feet and then play off him. This
was effective with Oakley and Jones supporting well from the
centre. Howard, Fagan and Pearson are the sort of strikers
that I worry about playing against, especially when its Tony
Gardner, as they will use their strength and look to put us
under pressure when in bad possession. Pearson is a good
dribbler and needs to be closed down quickly as he will look
to get his head down and drive forwards.
Oakley and Jones are good ball players
who will look to get on the ball at every opportunity and as
stated will look to play into Howard early. Todd is there to
protect the back 4 and does a no-nonsense job, but is not
very mobile. We should put him under early pressure to stop
him settling on the ball.
Mears is a good runner with the ball and
will look to drive forwards when given the space, but
Griffin will offer very little offensively. Davis and Moore
are very strong in the air and whilst the ball and play is
in front of them they will be happy.
Earnshaw can come on as a second striker
and Pearson and Fagan could also fulfil that role so expect
to see them go to 4-4-2 at some stage too.
So, if I was choosing the tactics I would
identify that Mears is weak positionally and was caught out
for the goal. City rarely turned Moore and Davis and I think
this will bring success, with Defoe and/or Bent up front who
both look to play on the shoulder and stretch the defence.
I would also be tempted to play three
across midfield to match them up with one player
(preferably) Malbranque advanced to play onto Todd. Playing
this system in midfield would reflect the fact we don’t have
a proper left-winger so I’d go with three up front with
Keane on the left.
Like any promoted team Derby will be
rugged and will fight for every ball. The first goal is
essential and ideally we will need to be two goals up at