On Friday 15th April 2022, second bottom Derby County take on the league leaders Fulham in the EFL Championship. The last time these two teams met was back in November 2021 and the match ended goalless at Craven Cottage. Coming into this game, Fulham surprisingly lost 1-3 at home to Coventry City and Derby County lost 1-2 away at Swansea City.
Derby County are coming into this game back having lost 1-2 at Swansea City. Tom Lawrence scored a penalty in what was nothing more than a consolation. That defeat leaves Derby with 12 wins, 13 draws and 16 losses to their name. Defensively, Derby have performed above the xGA mark as the latter predicted the Rams to let in 55 goals but in reality they have conceded 47 goals, an overperformance by eight goals.
Shown above is the shot map of Derby County from open play this season. The Rams have taken few shots from favourable positions compared to their league rivals which may explain the low goals per game of 0.97 goals per game. Tom Lawrence has been the standout performer for Derby this season in front of goal with 11 goals to his name. The Rams are hitting 32.2% of their shots on target.
In addition to being the top goalscorer for his team, Lawrence is also the leading assist maker for Derby. However, the most successful threat creator for the Rams has been Max Bird and most of his threat comes from corners. From open play, Nathan Byrne has created the most threat for Derby this campaign.
Fulham come into this game after a shock 1-3 defeat at home against Coventry City. Bobby Reid scored for Fulham in that defeat. That defeat means Fulham have lost their seventh game this season (they have won 25 and drawn eight). The Cottagers have been by far and away the best attack in this season’s EFL Championship. The Cottagers have scored 94 goals this season as against an xG of 85 goals, an overperformance of 9 goals.
Given above is the performances of Fulham this season relative to the rest of the league. The Cottagers have been too good this season that they are not ranked in the top 10% in only four important categories: long ball accuracy, aerial duels per 90, defensive duels per 90 padj (possession adjusted) and defensive duels success rate. The other two relatively unimportant categories where they are not in the top 10% are fouls per 90 and yellow cards per 90.
Even though this is a clash between an overperforming defence (Derby) and an overperforming attack (Fulham), it is difficult to see this match as anything other than a Fulham victory.