As the Villans make the trip to the iPro Stadium tomorrow, they will be hoping to secure their first away win in more than a year. The last away win came on the opening day of the 2015-16 season, when a Gestede goal was enough to beat A.F.C. Bournemouth.
The last time these two sides met was in April 2008, when the Villans did a demolition job on the Rams, winning 0-6 in a game that will be remembered for Petrov’s stunning long-range goal. Tomorrow’s encounter will be a tougher test for Di Matteo’s men as two of this season’s promotion favourites meet. With both the teams under new management, securing a place in the Premier League for 2017-18 will be the primary objective for both Roberto Di Matteo and Nigel Pearson, a manager many believed would be Rémi Garde’s successor at Villa Park earlier this summer.
Pearson’s side will be buoyed by their first league win in mid-week while the Villans’ victory over Rotherham United last weekend appeared to be a walk in the park and they were a little unlucky that a freak goal cost them all three points against Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night.
Recent form (Championship):
Derby County: W L D
Aston Villa: D W L
Despite earlier press reports to the contrary, Di Matteo, in his pre-match press conference this afternoon, seemed confident that new arrival Mile Jedinak will be in a position to make his Aston Villa début tomorrow.
Nathan Baker is expected to be available for selection following a head injury.
Joleon Lescott, who has this afternoon turned down a move to Rangers after failing to agree personal terms with the Scottish side, is not expected to feature.
Gabby Agbonlahor does not appear to be in Di Matteo’s plans and, with Dr. Tony Xia suggesting a loan move is on the cards for the Villa veteran, it is highly unlikely that he will be part of the match day squad tomorrow.
Adama Traoré has expressed a desire to leave the club. Di Matteo has stated that he needs “players who are fully committed” so the winger will have no part to play tomorrow.
Nigel Pearson’s Rams picked up their first league win of the 2016-17 season mid-week against Preston North End, with Forsyth’s late header the difference between the teams. It was only the Rams’ second goal of the season, with the previous one having been scored against Grimsby in the League Cup.
He will be hoping to build on that win in the two Midlands derbies his side will have to play now – at home to Aston Villa tomorrow and away to Burton Albion on August 27th.
However, the Rams have not won any of their last four Championship matches at home and, with the Villans looking more assured and having the greater goal threat, Villa fans will hope that run will be extended to five matches tomorrow evening.
The manager has no new injury concerns.
The injured Jeff Hendrick will probably not be back in contention tomorrow.
Marcus Olsson is close to being fully fit again, having suffered from concussion in pre-season.
George Thorne remains out due to a leg injury.
Former Aston Villa player Andreas Weimann remains out with a knee injury.
Darren Bent, who features heavily in tomorrow’s match programme, will be hoping to start against his former club.
Derby County’s danger men:
Will Hughes came through the ranks at Derby County and, at twenty-one, is considered a great prospect. He is thought to have caught the eye of new Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and was man of the match in the Rams win at Deepdale.
An attack-minded midfielder, Hughes often seems to be in a different class to his team-mates and the Villans will need to watch him closely, denying him chances to unlock the defence.
A ball of energy, Craig Bryson is an experienced box-to-box midfielder. The Scotland internal is known for bursting into the box, something the visiting Villans will needs to be wary of tomorrow evening.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Venue: iPro Stadium
Tickets: The away allocation has sold out
Last meeting: 12th April 2008 (Derby County 0 – 6 Aston Villa)
While there’s no doubt that this will be a competitive game, I believe the Villans currently have the attacking edge over tomorrow’s opponents so I am predicting an Aston Villa win – 1-2.