Ahead of Sheffield Wednesday’s match against Derby County at Hillsborough this weekend, we asked the Derby Telegraph’s Jonny Bonell to give us the lowdown on the Rams.
Q: What have you made of Derby's season so far?
A: On the whole, very good.
There have been bumps along the road - 4-1 and 3-0 home defeats to Leeds United and Aston Villa, plus defeats at Rotherham and Bolton weren’t days to remember – but Frank Lampard is getting across his style and methods and that was always going to take time.
There have been some excellent performances, notably Carabao Cup games at Manchester United and Chelsea, while the 4-1 victory at West Brom and the second-half of the 3-1 win against Birmingham City showcased brilliant football.
As with everyone in this division, consistency is the key, but sitting in sixth place after 17 games is certainly a positive start.
Q: How has Frank Lampard done in his first season as a manager?
A: Very well. It is not easy for any young manager to start life in management at a Championship club, particularly one as big and with such high expectations as Derby County – which often isn’t realised until you find yourself in the city!
He is always learning on the job, but Lampard has implemented a style far more pleasing on the eye than that of the previous regime under Gary Rowett.
He has absolutely got the fans on side.
There seems to be a real feel-good factor around the club at the minute, and the players are buying into what he is doing.
One slight blot on the copybook was his sending-off in the defeat at Rotherham, when he left his technical area and walked along the touchline to speak to one of the referee’s assistants. Again, all a learning curve.
Q: What is Derby's style of football?
A: When it clicks, very pleasing on the eye.
The Rams will often try and play out from the back, once or twice to their own detriment, but they enjoy possession and have full-backs who like to get forward.
Q: Why do you think they have fared better at home than away?
A: Not an easy one to answer. Looking at home defeats, they came against Leeds United (second game of the season) and a rejuvenated Aston Villa under Dean Smith. No shame in losing those, although the margin of defeat may have been cause for concern. So, all in all, home form has been good.
On the road, Derby’s three defeats came at Millwall, Rotherham and Bolton – places you know you are going to be in for a tough afternoon and really have to roll your sleeves up.
Those losses all came before October, though, and Derby have since been to in-form Queens Park Rangers, West Brom and Middlesbrough and picked up five points.
It will be interesting to see how they fare at Hillsborough.
Q: Who are the key men that Wednesday will have to watch out for?
A: An obvious shout this season has been Chelsea loanee Mason Mount, who has excelled for the Rams with five goals and two assists, particularly considering it is his first senior season in English football (he spent last term on loan at Vitesse).
However, he has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and may not be fit – so in-form striker Jack Marriott will be one for the Owls defence to watch.
Signed from Peterborough in the summer, he didn’t really have a pre-season, so has been playing catch-up but has hit form at just the right time. He’s an instinctive finisher and five goals in his last seven shows that.
Keep an eye on Tom Huddlestone, as well, whose range of passing and vision has to be up there with – if not the – best in the division.
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