Crystal Palace - Derby County

Crystal Palace started the season under all expectations. After six opening rounds, Eagles have noticed just a single win (Ipswich, 3-1 on the road), with two draws and three defeats. Their home shape is especially critical. One draw, two defeats, seven goals conceded and just a single scored (Plymouth 1-1)! And while first home defeat came from league giants Newcastle (0-2), second one, against Scunthorpe (0-4), easily can be called a disgrace. Manager Neil Warnock has a team consisted of talented youngsters. They showed a big potential in Cup game vs. Man.City when were 45 minutes fully equal with Mark Hughes’ stars. But, also it is expected they’ll make hot-cold displays. After good games, they’ll often make a drop in performance (after City they were saving their heads at London Road against Peterborough, 1-1), but after bad encounters when their dignity is hurt we can expect the answer on Premier League level. Warnock is one of the best managers in Championship, players have much more quality then they show so far and I think we can expect a very good game from the Palace. However, they could be without on-loan West Ham forward Freddie Sears who picked up a knock against Scunthorpe and former Derby defender Claude Davis, who has a hamstring problem. Key man in back line, centre-back Paddy McCarthy is available after serving his one-match.

Beside two wins in first two home games, against the teams that should finish at the bottom half of the table (Peterborough and Plymouth, both 2-1), Rams’ other results suggest a big possibility of struggling to avoid relegation. Although boss Nigel Clough repeats their performances are “positive”, his 5-4-1 formation hasn’t brought anything except a chorus of boos around Pride Park after another (third consecutive) defeat, against weak Barnsley at Tuesday 2-3 (their first league win this season). While Clough waits their positive displays to turn into positive results, pressure on him from club’s American owner rapidly raises, dressing room atmosphere is bad and injury list don’t make the things better. Striker Steven Davies is still sidelined, as well as key midfielder Paul Green and another key in defence line Jake Buxton. Strikers Chris Porter and Giles Barnes are long-term absentees. Left winger Stephen Pearson is expected to shake off a groin injury while striker Rob Hulse is on the road to recovery after coming down with a sickness bug earlier in the week. Lack of strikers in the squad Clough tried to solve with bringing on loan Everton’s talented youngster James Vaughan. But, we’ll wait to see will he make a debut, or another chance will be given to useless 5-4-1. However, tough times are in front the lads from Pride Park and I see them as one of the most serious contenders for relegation.

Slap that Palace got from Scunthorpe woke them from lethargy and still hurts. I expect the answer filled with the rage. Wounded Derby look like a victim of bad circumstances. 2.25 at Bwin. Home win.
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