Derby County v Leeds United
EFL Championship Kick Off Saturday 11th August 17.30pm
Live on Sky Sports
WHAT a game this promises to be, and so early in the season.
We have new Derby boss Frank Lampard pitting his wits against Marco Bielsa`s Leeds side, who were impressive against Stoke City last Sunday.Their work-rate and intensity almost blew Stoke away in the first half, scoring early then staying on the front foot for long periods. They looked really fit, sharp and prepared for the battle over the season ahead.
Derby got off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory at Paul Clement`s Reading in the Championship curtain-raiser, with Lampard seemingly kicking every ball with his team. Whatever people may think of his appointment there is no denying he was a winner as a player, but can he channel this mentality through the squad to get the club promoted? Derby County could be in for a bit of a rollercoaster of a season, but Lampard showing this kind of passion for the job in hand will make him value for the fans as well as the neutral.
That aside, I thought Reading deserved something from the game, as they were resolute and attacked well on the counter, opening the scoring through a superb header by Jon Bodvarsson, although the late headed winner for Derby from Tom Lawrence was equally good, if not better.
It was only Bodvarsson`s lack of a finishing touch that had stopped him converting a couple of chances earlier for Reading, with Richard Keogh`s distribution and decision-making at the heart of the Derby defence still shaky. Leeds can and will capitalise on this in my opinion, and punish any dawdling more ruthlessly.
Bielsa`s signing of Barry Douglas from Wolves was a great bit of business, and the Scotsman looks to have slotted straight into how the new Leeds boss sets up his teams. The threat his delivery poses from both open play and set-pieces will be a real asset. The consensus of opinion from most Wolves fans seemed to be bewilderment that he was sold, and Douglas duly provided a beautifully delivered corner for Liam Cooper`s headed third on Sunday. His ability could play a big part on Saturday evening, so I`m going for lightning to strike twice in Leeds United`s case.