Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Championship clash between Barnsley and Derby County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
After an impressive start to the season, Barnsley have seen a dip in their league form in recent weeks, picking up just two points from their last five games.
However, they come into this game with two consecutive draws, which put an end to a run of three successive losses in the Championship.
Last time out, Valerien Ismael‘s side played out a goalless draw with a resurgent Nottingham Forest side, after they failed to take advantage of a series of good chances.
That followed a 2-2 draw at home to Cardiff City, when Mads Andersen and Cauley Woodrow gave the Tykes a two-goal lead, before goals from Sheyi Ojo and former Barnsley striker Kieffer Moore levelled the game in the second half, leaving Ismael to rue his side’s inability to see out the victory.
Their poor run of form has seen the South Yorkshire side drop to 12th in the Championship, sitting six points off the playoff places.
However, they have undoubtedly improved in their second campaign in this league, after avoiding relegation on the final day of last season with a surprise win away at Brentford.
With 10 wins from 27 games in the league so far, they are only two victories away from matching last season’s tally of 12 wins from 46 matches.
As a result, they sit in a comfortable league position, without having to worry about the battle at the bottom end of the division.
However, Derby do remain in the battle to avoid relegation down to England’s third tier, currently sitting in 20th place.
The Rams have hugely helped their cause in recent weeks, winning three consecutive games since Wayne Rooney’s appointment as permanent manager, until their 3-0 loss to Rotherham on Wednesday.
That was a major backwards step for the Midlands side, as one of their major rivals at the bottom of the Championship picked up a vital three points.
The game remained goalless for 75 minutes, until Rotherham defender Michael Ihiekwe opened the scoring with a finish at the back post following a long free kick. Michael Smith then added a second for the hosts, before an eye-catching solo goal from Ryan Giles capped off a great evening for the Millers.
That result, combined with another win for Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, has seen Derby dragged right back into the relegation scrap, sitting just two points above Rotherham in the relegation zone.
Rooney will be desperate for his side to get back to winning ways quickly to move further from the bottom three, and this game against a side struggling for confidence presents a good opportunity to return to the form they had before the Rotherham loss, which saw them pick up three consecutive 1-0 wins.
Barnsley Championship form: WLLLDD
Barnsley form (all competitions): WLLWDD
Derby County Championship form: LLWWWL
Derby County form (all competitions): LLWWWL
The hosts should have a full squad to pick from, except full-back Ben Williams, who remains out with a cruciate ligament injury.
Barnsley picked up exciting attacker Daryl Dike in a deadline day loan signing from Orlando City, boosting Ismael’s attacking options.
He will offer support to Cauley Woodrow, who has nine goals and five assists in the Championship so far this campaign.
Derby were recently dealt a huge blow, with crucial midfielder Krystian Bielik ruled out for several months after he was stretchered off in the win over Bristol City. Youngster Max Bird is likely to step into Bielik’s position for the foreseeable future, alongside Graeme Shinnie.
The Rams were one of the most active sides on deadline day, dipping into the market to bring in defenders Teden Mengi and George Edmundson on loan deals, as well as experienced Championship forward Lee Gregory, who joined on loan from Stoke City.
Striker Colin Kazim-Richards will come into this game with some confidence, having scored two goals in his last three games, with both of these being winning goals in 1-0 victories.
Barnsley possible starting lineup:
Collins; Sollbauer, Andersen, Helik; Brittain, Kane, Mowatt, Styles; Frieser, Mowatt, Chaplin
Derby County possible starting lineup:
Marshall; Byrne, Clarke, Wisdom, Buchanan; Shinnie, Bird; Jozwiak, Knight, Roberts; Kazim-Richards
We say: Barnsley 1-1 Derby County
We see this game being very closely fought, between two sides keen to put a win on the board for different reasons.
While Derby may come in with more confidence, the loss of Bielik is a major one, and this could allow Barnsley captain Alex Mowatt more space to dictate the game from midfield. We predict Kazim-Richards and Woodrow will each secure a point for their side with goals in this encounter.
Top betting tip
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