It's The Big One: Forest v Derby
Forget about Celtic/Rangers, Liverpool/Everton, Utd/City, or Spurs /Arsenal, this is the big one! The Red Dogs of Nottingham v The Sheepshaggers of Derby has finally arrived.
Recent events between the two clubs has shown there is no love lost and that whilst there may be alot in the way of history between us, there is precious little in the way of respect. The FA disciplinary panel had to be called into action following events at the previous two meetings, with fines and warnings issued to both clubs about future conduct.
This fixture has become the stuff folklore on both sides of the A52, with the bragging rights alternating with each passing game. 2008 saw the now infamous and quite frankly comical refereeing performance of Stuart Attwell at the Sheepdip, in which he wrongly sent off Lewis McGugan for an innocent foul and also disallowed a perfectly good goal by the Shaggers. 2009 saw Pantomime villain Robbie Savage annoying and goading the City ground faithful with his scarf waving antics, following their 3-2 FA Cup win at the City Ground. Fast forward to last season and we get the now legendary Tyson flag waving incident after the epic 3-2 home win and the full blown pitch melee that ensued with players and officials from both clubs involved. The return game at the Dip resulted in another full blown brawl, again involving players and officials from both sides. Let's be honest folks, it's what makes these games worth turning up for and even with the absence of 'Lilly' Savage due to suspension, it promises to be another feisty affair.
Back to the football and on paper, it looks to be an evenly matched game. Forest sit 9th and the Rams sit in 10th. Both are on 30 points, with us ahead on goal difference, with 2 games in hand. Whilst we've only lost 1 in our last 5, the Rams have only won 1 of their last 5, with 4 ending in defeat. Throw the form book out of the window for this one though, as it is going to count for nothing.
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Forest have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game, with only Dele Adebola a slight doubt with a knee problem.
Player to watch: Marcus Tudgay
He made an impressive debut and even scored in his one game for us so far, in the 3-0 win over Palace a fortnight ago. He's played for the Sheep as well, so will be looking to put one over his former employers in this.
Derby County Team News:
Savage will serve a 1 match suspension and misses the game. Love him or hate him, he will be missed by the visitors, as he makes them tick and would have had them up for this one make no mistake. Midfielder Stephen Pearson is a doubt, because of a knee problem.
Player to watch: Kris Commons
Thanks to the absence of Robbie Savage, he will be public enemy number 1. Savage had managed to take that mantle off the diminutive playmaker in recent meetings, but he will have to fend for himself in the hostile environment of the City Ground now. We know all about him of course and this season he has been instrumental in their early good form that saw them occupying the Playoff births, before their recent dip in form. He's bagged 13 goals already this season, so he will once again have to be watched and is evidence that on his day he can still hurt any team in this division.
Match Facts & Stats
Last season we won 3-2 at home and lost 1-0 away. In 76 league meetings between the teams, Forest have won 31, drawn 19 and lost 26.
Mr. Anthony Bates, Staffordshire.
Red Dogs 3-2 Sheepshaggers
Sat January 1. Barnsley (h). KO:3pm.