Championship Gameweek Two: Borja Baston To Bag For Swansea?6 min read
On Saturday, Phillip Cocu has his first home game in charge of Derby County in the Championship Gameweek Two; they face another side under new management in Swansea City, who have Steve Cooper in charge.
Will either boss begin with back-to-back wins? Here’s Gabriel Sutton’s preview and best bet for the action.
Cocu’s first home game
Cocu will have mixed emotions after Monday’s 2-1 win at Huddersfield.
In the first half, his side played some good football and went two goals ahead thanks to two moments of magic from Tom Lawrence.
Some of the build-up play Cocu has worked on in training came off, especially the playing out from the back.
Derby used a rotating quartet including centre-backs Richard Keogh and Matt Clarke, holding midfielder George Evans and even Kelle Roos, a very proactive goalkeeper.
Roos would sometimes take up the position of the second centre-back to allow other players to get forward, or other times Evans would drop between Keogh and Clarke to invite the press, then try to play through it to get Lawrence, Florian Jozefzoon and Kieran Dowell on the ball.
Cocu can also be very pleased with the attacking play of the full-backs; Scott Malone stretched the play to allow Lawrence to cause havoc inside while Jayden Bogle, at just 19, displayed a remarkable maturity to his game.
The quality of Derby’s attacks was very strong, but the one concern would be that they had a lower volume of attacks than their opponents, which is a theme that runs back to last season – then again, last season, the Rams still managed to reach the Play-Off Final.
Wayne Rooney will arrive in January to add to the attacking midfield options – yet it could be argued that the dynamic Dowell suits the balance of this side slightly better.
#dcfc first approached Rooney a year ago, with Lampard keen to get him to add firepower for a promotion push. That was a straight player deal back then – discussions have evolved since with player-coach suiting both parties.
— Rob Dorsett (@RobDorsettSky) August 7, 2019
Cooper’s youth project
Although Steve Cooper has taken charge of a club that was playing Premier League football 15 months ago, there is not a great deal of pressure on him.
Swansea City have made a significant net profit from transfer sales for successive summers, after the exit of flying wide man Daniel James and intelligent forward Oli McBurnie.
Cooper’s task is therefore about further developing players with high sell-on values and continuing the tactical template predecessor Graham Potter left, whilst keeping the team within sight of the Play-Offs.
The new head coach got off to a winning start last week – a 2-1 victory over Hull.
The Swans were not quite at their best in the first half of that match and fell behind, but Cooper certainly worked his magic at the break, because after it his side were much improved.
Borja Baston, a £15.5M signing from Atletico Madrid in 2016, had almost been forgotten about due to limited appearance time and two loans away, but with McBurnie heading out the exit door, the Spaniard has a great opportunity to step up – he took it last week, hooking home the equalizer from close-range before Mike Van Der Hoorn’s winner.
The right-sided partnership of Connor Roberts and Nathan Dyer could be a real plus point for the Swans, because the full-back and wide forward respectively are spatially aware.
Roberts takes the initiative to come inside when the opportunity to do so presents itself, while Dyer will make runs on the outside to elude a marker, then pick out that subtle moment of quality, as he did to assist both goals last week.
Baston to hit two in two?
That spatial awareness will be especially important against Derby, who have a double-pivot in Tom Huddlestone and George Evans who will block out space in the central areas.
When Huddersfield played the Rams, their shortcoming was that they continuously tried to attack those central areas without being able to dislodge Huddlestone and Evans.
By contrast, Swansea have the intelligence to use the space wherever it comes up.
That could allow them to have a little more joy in the final third and create for their key attacking players including Baston; we’re tipping the 26-year-old to bag his second goal of the season in the East Midlands.
Tips: Borja Baston to score anytime
Read Gabriel’s Championship 1-20 predictions.