Two of last season’s Championship play-off teams meet on Saturday lunchtime when Derby County host West Bromwich Albion. Derby did the double over West Brom last term, beating them 3-1 at home on the final day to confirm their sixth-place finish. However, Slaven Bilić has instilled resilience in his Albion side that has seen them go behind in three of their first four league games but remain unbeaten.
Derby County to be Challenged Against a Resilient West Bromwich Albion
Last Time Out
Andreas Weimann scored against his former club Derby County as Bristol City ran out 2-1 winners at Pride Park on Tuesday night. The Robins scored twice in the first half despite being on the back foot following their opener. Derby defender Scott Malone gifted a second just before the break, giving the ball away which lead to Josh Brownhill firing in from 12 yards.
Despite having the majority of possession in the second half Derby failed to create any clear cut chances. Jack Marriott’s brilliant individual goal with five minutes left set up a tense and nervy finish, but City were able to weather a late storm to secure their first away win of the season and condemn Derby manager Phillip Cocu to his first defeat of the season.
West Bromwich Albion are one of just four remaining unbeaten sides in the Championship but it took an 88th-minute penalty from Kenneth Zohore to rescue a point against Reading after Ovie Ejaria’s opener in the 71st minute. Ejaria’s trip on Filip Krovinovic would prove to be third time lucky for Albion who had two penalty shouts turned down before one was given.
Slaven Bilić made three changes to his line-up: Darnell Furlong, Grady Diangana and Charlie Austin with their first league starts of the season. However, Reading proved to be a well-drilled side and deservedly left The Hawthorns with a point. This was Albion’s third failure to win at home this season under Bilić, a difficult start after ending last term with six straight home victories under caretaker boss Jimmy Shan.
Hit and Miss
Both sides still need to find more cutting edge in the final third if they’re going to challenge for the top spots. Derby had 67% possession in midweek but managed just four shots on target despite amassing 18 attempts on goal, whilst Albion had 59% possession and 20 shots, although just four were on target.
Issues hitting the target has been a recurring issue for both teams in the early weeks of the Championship campaign. Derby have hit the target with 28.5% of their shots this season faring slightly better than Saturday’s opponents who only manage 21.2%. Add to this statistic the fact that neither side has managed to keep a clean sheet so far this season and we have a fascinating game in store.