Derby County have one of the best home forms in the Championship. Philip Cocu’s men also bolster one of the worst away records in the division.
Not since the opening day of the 19/20 campaign against Huddersfield Town have Derby won an away game. That finished 2-1 to the Rams at the John Smith’s Stadium after a spectacular Tom Lawrence brace.
But since that, nothing. Derby have earned a measly three points in six away visits and been battered 3-0 on their travels on three separate occasions. Those defeats came to Brentford, Charlton Athletic and – the most damning of all – Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
Their only impressive point on the road has come against Leeds United when Chris Martin snatched a late equaliser at Elland Road in September. Their other two draws came against a struggling Stoke City and Barnsley. In the latter, the Rams lead the match until the final minute of extra time.
Paradoxically, their home form has been rather impressive. The side have made Pride Park something of a fortress, losing just once there to an impressive Bristol City side. Other than that, Cocu’s men have drawn three and won four. Impressive draws against current table-toppers West Bromwich Albion and fourth-placed Swansea City were followed by a 1-1 draw with a resilient Cardiff City side.
But since then, the Rams have won their last four matches in a row at Pride Park, bettering Birmingham City, Luton Town, Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough on home turf.
With that being said, what is the reason behind this huge contrast in form?
Derby’s problem is that they lack pace. On your travels you are expected to withstand pressure and hit teams on the counterattack. Well, Derby don’t have the defensive capabilities to withstand significant pressure, nor the pace to counterattack effectively.
Florian Jozefzoon is, perhaps, Derby’s quickest player but his end product has been poor this season which has meant he has fallen out of favour with his fellow Dutchman Cocu. Summer loanne Matt Clarke – excluding his recent performance against Middlesbrough – hasn’t yet shown that he can remain resilient under pressure.
They have played all of their away matches with two holding midfielders which has invited this pressure onto the shaky defence which is why they are losing games 3-0. In that, they are sacrificing an attack-minded midfielder who can to get Derby scoring goals on the road.
At home, the defenders are under considerably less pressure. This gives the likes of Tom Huddlestone and Krystian Bielik more time to pick out a quality pass which they definitely need.
One other, quite obvious, reason for Derby performing so much better at Pride Park is the impressive home support. Only Leeds United and Nottingham Forest have a higher average attendance than Derby so far this season, perhaps indicating just how much of an influence the backing of the south stand has on Cocu’s players.