Derby have made a disastrous start to the new Championship season and their task doesn't get any easier on Saturday as they visit recently-relegated Norwich. Mark O'Haire sets the scene...
"Cocu’s charges have already conceded eight goals in three league outings, allowing the fourth-most shots in the division despite enjoying comfortably the highest average possession figure (58%)"
Norwich v Derby
Saturday October 3, 12:30
Farke irked by transfer speculation
Norwich lost their first Championship match of the season last Sunday, being beaten 1-0 in a hard-fought contest at fellow-relegated outfit Bournemouth. The teams were separated by a fine strike from Arnaut Danjuma in the 35th minute, with the Canaries enjoying over 60% of possession in a more fluent display than the 2-2 home draw with Preston previously.
Nevertheless, all the talk post-match centered around the absence of Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia from the squad. With transfer speculation mounting, Daniel Farke excluded the in-demand playmakers, suggesting the duo had dropped below the standards he expects of City players. With Kieran Dowell also unavailable through injury, Norwich lacked invention.
Farke switched to a 4-1-4-1 and the Canaries' chief was pleased with the fluency and improvement in passing his team displayed, while admitting they lacked a cutting edge. Kenny McLean and Lukas Rupp brought energy and allowed City more midfield control, with Oliver Skipp really growing into his role as the deep-lying pivot as the game progressed.
Derby suffer third successive defeat
Derby head coach Phillip Cocu insists he has backing of owner Mel Morris despite leading the Rams to their worst start to a league season in 28 years. County fell to defeat against Reading and Luton before being humbled 4-0 at home by Blackburn in their most recent Championship outing, a painful performance that's promoted questions over his future.
Cocu called the display "unacceptable" and questioned the attitude, passion and desire of his players' efforts against Rovers. Derby conceded 23 shots at goal - 10 of which were on-target - a chastening set of figures for a home team that were epitomised by the fact Rams' goalkeeper David Marshall was named Man of the Match for keeping the score to four.
Reliable centre-back Matt Clarke should expect a recall after being replaced by Mike te Wierik last week with Andre Wisdom expected to resume duties on his preferred right-side of defence. Jack Marriott was surprisingly hooked at half-time against Blackburn but should be given an opportunity to impress once more, although major changes are anticipated.
Canaries can keep County at bay
Norwich and Derby have faced-off eight times over the past decade and it's the Rams who have enjoyed the upper-hand. County have suffered a solitary reverse against the Canaries in that sample, posting W3-D4-L1 in the process. The visitors have also picked up top honours in each of their past two trips to Carrow Road at Championship level.
Norwich 5/71.69 have made a steady start to life back in the second-tier (W1-D1-L1). The Norfolk outfit were convincing winners at Huddersfield before being out-played on home soil against Preston. Despite defeat, there were positives in last weekend's performance and Daniel Farke's troops will want to impress in front of the live television cameras.
Only Wycombe (-4.20) have returned a worse Expected Goals (xG) differential after three rounds of matches than Derby -2.90. Phillip Cocu's charges have already conceded eight goals in three league outings, allowing the fourth-most shots in the division despite enjoying comfortably the highest average possession figure (58%). County make little appeal at 4/15.00
Ten of the past 12 meetings between Norwich and Derby have delivered Both Teams To Score (1.67) winners. Just two of the duos combined six encounters have followed suit this term with just two collective contests creeping over the Over 2.5 Goals (1.65) line.
With doubts surrounding a couple of the Canaries' key assets coming into Saturday's showdown, plus Daniel Farke's team yet to consistently find top gear, it may pay to side with the hosts edging out their under-pressure visitors in a low-scoring Carrow Road showdown: Norwich to win and Under 4.5 Goals is appealing enough at 1.90.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 9.00 pts
Returned: 10.10 pts
P/L: +1.10 pts