Following a summer of change from both a player and managerial perspective, Phillip Cocu’s Derby County will be aiming to find a turn around in their form after what has been a lacklustre start to the season for the Rams.
Having lost key players Mason Mount and Harry Wilson in the summer as they returned to their respective parent clubs, Derby have been severely lacking a creative spark within their team so far this term as the squad looks to adapt to a change in style since the arrival of new manager Phillip Cocu, who replaced the now Chelsea manager Frank Lampard back in July.
Cocu lines his team up in his preferred 4-3-3 system which consists of a front three that has usually included Martyn Waghorn through the middle, flanked on the sides by both Tom Lawrence on the left and Florian Jozefzoon on the right.
Jozefzoon in particular has suffered a slow start to this campaign, with statistics from WhoScored.com, showing that the Dutchman lacks the tactical nous to contribute significantly defensively.
A trait which is of great importance when playing as a winger in a 4-3-3 as failure to do so can leave the full back behind him exposed to a two versus one situation.
The winger also lacks the ability to hold onto the ball, which is shown by the fact that he gets disposed at least once per game, putting him amongst the most likely players to lose the ball in the Derby squad.
A solution to this problem would be for Cocu to play Martyn Waghorn in the right wing role, a position he played to great success during his time at Ipswich, and then start fellow forward Jack Marriott through the centre of the front three.
This change would benefit the team in a number of ways, Waghorn possess the abilities to play with his back to goal and lay the ball off the Derby’s supporting midfielders, a trait which, as mentioned, Jozefzoon lacks.
Whilst Waghorn is also adept at delivering the ball into the box via crosses to Marriott.
With Waghorn contributing to linking the play, Marriott will also help to provide some much needed creativity as he likes to drop deep and play through balls to his teammates.
This is a trait that could be utilised effectively by asking Waghorn and Lawrence to make penetrating runs from the wings to confuse and dis-organise the opposition defence.
It was Lawrence who displayed this tendency, in Derby’s two-one victory away to Huddersfield when he scored his second goal after moving into the inside forward position on the edge of the box.
Only smalls changes are needed to improve results under Cocu, as the team have shown they can dominate games with the Rams averaging 52.5% possession per game, putting them in top 10 of the Championship in term of possession stats.
With the Dutchman’s side also recording a passing percentage of 80.8, it is clear that they have to be more clinical and creative when in possession of the ball, with the Rams having only scored six goals in six games this season.