Derby v Birmingham, January 16, 3.00pm
The home side are odds on favourites in this midlands clash this weekend, priced at 8/15. The away side, Birmingham, are a sizeable outsider price of 5/1. The draw can be backed at 3/1.
Derby have had a bit of a rocky period of late over Christmas. Boss Paul Clement rendered his teams performance against Reading ‘awful’ in their 1-1 draw at home. Nevertheless the Rams are still up there in the table, sitting in an automatic promotion place but six points off of Middlesborough in front of them. They have picked up eight points from their last five fixtures – a decent record but one they will look to improve on. After Monday nights FA Cup draw a lot of people around the club will be focussed on their game against Manchester United coming up at the end of the month, but it is important that they remain focussed on the league in the meantime. Otherwise they may find themselves dropping through the play-off places.
Birmingham are one of the teams chasing a play-off place. They are four points off the cuff but will know a good run of results would soon put them in the mix. The Brummies have picked up ten points from their last five games in a fairly decent run. Averaging two points per game usually means you will end up at the right end of the table come May. They were unfortunate to lose out to Bournemouth in the FA Cup but have the silver lining in that they can focus on the league now and push for a promotion. A win this weekend would see them take momentum and possibly a smaller point deficit into their fixture against Ipswich – one of the teams they’re chasing for a play-off place.
Whilst Birmingham are in slightly better form, I think Derby will just have too much for them to handle. The likes of Thomas Ince and Darren Bent are very capable of scoring goals in any fixture and I think will give them the lead in this one.
Thomas Ince to score first – 5/1