Will this be the game?
I’m not optimistic about Reading’s chances of derailing the juggernaut at Craven Cottage tonight, but stranger things have happened in football (see last Friday night).
Either way, it’s surely a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ now for even the most fretful, psychologically damaged supporter amongst us?
Although it’s sometimes not ideal to play the day after all your rivals, the extra day of rest would seem to play further into our hands.
There was a time not so long ago that we were looking over our shoulders at a Derby team that couldn’t stop winning.
Unfortunately for them, when they did stop, they couldn’t start again. That is until last week when the the challenge became about cementing their play-off credentials.
They come into this game just three points ahead of Millwall in 7th. They do have a game in hand but that game is against Cardiff in what will probably be the feistiest 90 minutes of the season.
They’ve also got to play Wolves, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before the month is out, so a lot of work left to do if they’re to remain in contention.
Back-to-front they’re loaded with Championship experience, so it’s somewhat surprising how much they capitulated through February and March.
Matej Vydra is the league’s top scorer with 20, while highly rated winger Tom Lawrence scored a wonderful goal against Bolton at the weekend and seems like a potential match winner for the Rams.
Eyebrows were raised over Nuno’s team selection on Friday, but given how the game played out I think you’d have to say he got it right.
Afobe made some good contributions out wide and Bonatini was very unlucky not score. But introducing Costa and Cavaleiro late on really gave Cardiff something to think about and had either taken their chance to score, the plan would have worked to perfection.
As it was, we needed some luck and the heroics of John Ruddy. Good on that man for finding his best form at the precise time we needed it most.
I think we might see something more orthodox this time.
Derby have the third best away record in the league (behind Wolves and Fulham) so I think that tells you we’re probably in for a tough game.
I was at Pride Park for the reverse fixture back in August. They had their moments in that game and put some pressure on in the first half but Wolves ultimately emerged with a comfortable victory.
I’m hoping for a similar sort of match up, but suspect it will be closer this time.
Up The Wolves!