Derby County, it’s been a while, old friend.
Location: Pride Park, Derby, Derbyshire, England
Kick-off time: 7:55 PM GMT, 2:55 PM Eastern, 11:55 AM Pacific
Three years to be exact since the Foxes extended their win streak against the Rams to three games in January of 2012 with a 4-1 thrashing of their rivals in the Championship. Both clubs have gone separate ways since then, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now.
But an FA Cup Fourth Round fixture at Pride Park this Friday pits the two foes on level terms in a winner advances, loser-goes-home scenario. In the case of a draw we’ll just try again next week. Both clubs had to overcome tough opposition to make it this far, with the Rams punching above their weight against another Midlands side in West Brom to book this date with the champions of England.
The Rams may say this rivalry doesn’t mean as much as Nottingham Forest, like Fosse Posse writer Jack highlighted in his personal account of the rivalry, but a chance to knock the Foxes down a peg is a chance they’ll relish after having to watch another Midlands side win the Premier League — a competition the Rams haven’t done so well in recently.
David Nugent is back, but this time in the white and black of Derby after moving to the club from Middlesbrough on January 9 for £2.5 million. He haunted Derby for five goals in six matches during his time with Leicester and it’ll be tough watching him suit up for the Rams on Friday. Tom Ince has been hot for Derby with five goals in his last nine, helping move manager Steve McLaren’s side within two points of the Championship playoff places.
Leonardo Ulloa will be a match-day decision with a muscular problem while Algerian internationals Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez are back in the fold after crashing out in the Africa Cup of Nations this week. It’s a major boost for the Foxes, who have been struggling since the two departed for Gabon at the start of January.
Recent fortunes aside, a lot of pride on the line for both clubs.