Wednesday was a welcome distraction from the league but ultimately ended in another defeat. Although the 2-1 scoreline away at Chelsea is respectable, look closer at the match stats and it was a familiar story.
Chelsea had just less than thirty attempts on the Bolton Wanderers goal and they are not the first opposition we have faced this season to have twenty plus attempts in a game. Dougie Freedman seems to have this style of play ingrained throughout the squad now and to be fair away at Chelsea it is probably wise to play this way, however we are not particularly good at it. It doesn't matter what the level of football is if you consistently allow the opposition to dictate the game and have attempts at goal they will eventually score.
Positives from Chelsea are that we scored. Yes, we scored a goal away from home! Andy Lonergan had a good game making some eye catching saves, still I'd rather he had had a shocker and stopped that shambles of a goal he conceded at Wolverhampton instead. Finally, Matt Mills and Dorian Dervite seem to be developing a good understanding at centre half. Hopefully a run of games together will see the partnership improve further.
Onto Saturday and one of the promotion favourites, last season's playoff runners up Derby County are the visitors. They are a team who are greater than the sum of their parts and it is difficult not to admire the job Steve McClaren has done there. He has moulded them into an efficient unit who are reasonably sound at the back but score goals from all over the pitch. Freedman take note.
Looking through their squad they haven't spent much money and have a mixture of mostly football league journeymen, a few players plucked from the Scottish league and a couple of very good home grown players.
Similar to ourselves it took Derby a few seasons to find their feet in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League. Nigel Clough eventually stabilised the club in mid-table but McClaren has certainly taken them to the next level.
So far this season Derby lie in 9th place and have probably drawn more games than they would of liked. Their best results so far are a 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers and a 5-1 demolition of Fulham. Derby can certainly score goals and if we continue to sit back and invite pressure we are in for a long afternoon. Looking at their previous games so far this season they do not appear to be as strong defensively as last season. Hopefully Dougie has picked up on this and selects his team accordingly.
Bolton are now only missing long term absentees Adam Bogdan, David Wheater and Liam Trotter. Chris Herd is in line to make his home debut although Kevin McNaughton is also available for selection again. It is difficult to predict what sort of team Dougie will pick on Saturday, will it be a standard 4-4-2, midfield diamond or 4-2-3-1. I suspect the latter unfortunately.
Derby usually line up 4-3-3 with Chris Martin supported by two from Johnny Russell, Jamie Ward or Simon Dawkins. Former loan target Jordan Ibe impressed by scoring off the bench at the weekend, he could start and I wouldn't be surprised if he showed us what we have missed out on. In fact I can already hear Dougie's post match hard luck story.