Similar set up and too early to judge Derby County ahead of Leeds United showdown
DERBY COUNTY are likely to arrive at Leeds United with a similar set up to last season but minus three of last term's best players come Saturday's Championship clash at Elland Road.
Saturday's fixture will present a tenth game in charge for new Rams boss Phillip Cocu whose side will arrive at Elland Road just four months on from May's 4-2 win in the play-offs semi-final second leg under Frank Lampard.
Three of Derby's star performers from last season who all played 90 minutes of that fixture in Harry Wilson, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori are no longer with the Rams but Derby Telegraph football editor and chief football writer Steve Nicholson says Cocu has essentially stuck to a similar formation and style of play.
"There is not much difference to how they set up compared with last season," said Nicholson.
"Phillip Cocu has mainly opted for a 4-3-3 - as Frank Lampard did - or 4-2-3-1.
"He has switched to three at the back with wing backs at times, also.
"The style of play is similar, but the team is without three of its best players from last season in Mason Mount, Harry Wilson and Fikayo Tomori, who all returned to their parent clubs at the end of last season following successful loan spells.
"Tomori was player of the year last season, Wilson top scorer with 18 goals while Mount's quality, as well as goals and assists, is being seen at Chelsea this season."
Cocu's tenure began with a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town over the first weekend of the season but only four more points have followed since.
"Just one win in the league and only seven points from seven Championship matches is disappointing," said Nicholson.
"Derby have gone six without a win in all competitions since their one win at Huddersfield in their opening fixture of the season.
"Managing in English football, and in the Championship, is new to Phillip Cocu although he has been successful as a manager having won three Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven.
"There were big changes at Derby in the summer - Frank Lampard departed, Cocu arrived, new players, new ideas.
"Things can take time to settle and it is still very early in the season, and too early for firm judgements."
Nicholson added: "Derby suffered successive 3-0 defeats by Nottingham Forest (in the Carabao Cup) and Brentford (in the League) going into the international break.
"They took a point off Cardiff City in a 1-1 draw when the Championship resumed. It was a much-improved performance - it had to be after the display at Brentford - and they should have won the game.
"They will take confidence from that and they will know what to expect when they visit Elland Road on Saturday."