Brighton have signed Oliver Norwood from Reading in what appears to be a shrewd pre-emptive strike ahead of Dale Stephens’ expected move to Burnley next week. Stephens still has one game of a three-match suspension to serve, so would miss this game anyway, but Norwood is one of the few players in the Championship capable of filling his shoes.
Stephens’ central midfield partnership with Beram Kayal was probably the strongest in the division last term but Norwood posted some of the best statistics of any midfielder, playing in a pretty mediocre Reading side. So let’s assume it’s business as usual for the Seagulls, in which case the draw has to be value.
No fewer than 12 of Albion’s 23 away games finished all-square last term, plus 13 of their 22 games - both home and away - against the rest of the top half, including both matches against Derby. All of which in mind, you can’t really grumble with odds of 12/5 about the stalemate here.
Derby are sure to be promotion contenders for the fourth season running. The Rams boast a 55 per cent win ratio at the iPro Stadium over the past three years but have drawn eight of their last 11 matches against opposition who finished in the top six, so respect on both sides might mean that desire for victory is outstripped by the fear of defeat.