Down, down, down: Derby v Fulham
Given a choice, I might not normally put much thought into viewing this game but I decided that I needed to watch at least one complete Derby match this season to truly assess if they are the worst Premier League team ever.
The numbers for Derby are staggeringly bad. -54 goal differential, no wins away from home and only one win total for the season. They have lost their last three, and are without a victory in 25 (28 in all competitions). They have managed only garnered six points out of the past 75 on offer since their solitary victory; 1-0 over Newcastle at Pride Park on September 17th. This horrid run needs to end soon as they have just seven games to earn the six points needed to avoid officially becoming the worst side in Premier League history. Sunderland currently have that dubious honour, with 15 points just two seasons ago. The Rams are on the same mark as the Black Cats were at this identical stage. They are also threatening another Sunderland futility mark; they need to score eight more goals to avoid becoming the lowest scorers in the Premier League era (Sunderland totalled just 21 in 2002-03). At least there is one futility mark they will not break and that is the record for most goals conceded in a season – 100 given up Swindon Town in the 1993-94 season. Even if you factor in that Swindon played a 42-game season, Derby are not going to match their pace: Derby concede an average of 2.097 goals per game, while Swindon conceded an average of 2.38 goals per game.
The big story in this match is that defeat for Derby, coupled with a home victory for Birmingham over Manchester City will see the Rams officially relegated on Saturday.
Their opponents Fulham are not much better off, though they are not challenging any league futility records. Their away form has killed them the last few seasons and this year it is really doing them in. Fulham, having gone 32 games since last winning on their travels, desperately need three points from this match. They currently sit second last and are four points away from safety.
Their most recent performance against Newcastle was a sad display, little creativity going forward and out-of-sorts at the back. The lone sparks of brightness for the club have come from Jimmy Bullard and US international Clint Dempsey.
This should be a real scrappy game between two of the worst sides in the division. I hate to say it but the smart money would be a 0-0 draw based on the stats that are available. That score is likely to hold at least until half-time if not for the whole match. Fulham have not scored in the opening 45 minutes since January 12th, a full 10 games ago. Derby have gone nine matches since hitting the net in the first half. Two of the three Premier League matches between these clubs have been scoreless draws, including their meeting earlier this season at Craven Cottage, a match that saw Paul Konchesky sent off but little else in terms of memorable moments.
This will not be a feast of football by any means but like a good masochist, I will be up and watching this match on Saturday. Feel free to join the EPL Chat and share in the pain!