Derby v Aston Villa - Saturday 17:30, Sky Sports 1
Aston Villa underlined their intentions of an immediate return to the top flight with the capture of Mile Jedinak from Crystal Palace this week. The Australian midfield enforcer is the third Premier League regular persuaded to drop down a division by Roberto Di Matteo and other big-name targets are expected follow in the remaining two weeks of the transfer window.
It's a level of financial clout even Derby cannot compete with. In recent years, the Rams have been regarded serious players at this level, paying top dollar for proven Championship performers like Jason Shackell, Bradley Johnson and Jacob Butterfield. But Di Matteo is assembling a squad that’s another rung up in terms of pedigree.
And though picking a winner of this game might be complicated on performances served up to date, the visitors can only be empowered by the spending spree that promises a serious promotion challenge. Jedinak’s arrival is yet another ultimatum to those in possession of the shirt. Di Matteo doesn’t need to spell it out: those selected at the iPro are playing for their futures.
So Villa should be fancied to prevail, even though their recruitment drive isn't quite yet complete. Indeed, this game in itself could be a microcosm of their season. Take the 7/1 available on the Draw/Aston Villa double result. Derby might huff and puff for 45 minutes but if they don't find a breakthrough by then, their resolve is only likely to weaken.