Derby have history with missing out on the play-offs after last season’s dismal finish and they will be determined not to let the same happen again. They have already had a bad spell this term when they dropped from first to fifth and Paul Clement was sacked after less than eight months in charge. Despite sound bites from the club that promotion is not their primary aim they will not want to miss out, but need to get the team playing a cohesive style. They can often look disjointed and tend to struggle against more physical sides.
While Cardiff fans have recently had a taste of the Premier League they have emerged as unexpected challengers this season after cost cutting seemed to hinder any kind of push. Resentment towards owner Vincent Tan, plus a general dislike of Russell Slade and his style of play seems to have diminished slightly as a togetherness within the team has seen them only lose twice at home all season. Their lack of strikers could be their major downfall in the end, but they have been able to spread the goals around the team so far.
Having missed out on the 2014/15 play-off final after losing to local rivals Norwich in the semi-final, another shot at the top six was the aim for this campaign. Despite losing key players like Tyrone Mings and with very little investment Mick McCarthy has again worked wonders to get them competing at the top end of the division. Their style of play is still direct and aggressive, but there is perhaps not quite as much long ball play as there was last season and they still remain effective. Daryl Murphy remains their most dangerous player, but he has regressed from last season when he hit an unprecedented 27 goals, which was more than his total in the previous four years combined. Murphy’s saving grace is that he adds a lot of value to the team even when not scoring, so Ipswich will hope the injury he picked up on international duty is a minor one.
Sheffield Wednesday ~1.11
Cardiff City ~4.5
Ipswich Town ~15.0
5th-12th placed opposition – Draw
13th-18th placed opposition – Win
19th-24th placed opposition (home) – Win
19th-24th placed opposition (away) – Draw
6th – Derby County (74pts)
7th – Cardiff City (73pts)
8th – Ipswich Town (70pts)