The Carabao Cup has already served up some memorable moments for Derby County and Frank Lampard this season.
The Rams beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on penalties last month as Lampard masterminded success over former boss Jose Mourinho.
The win set up a return to Stamford Bridge for Lampard as Derby travel to Chelsea, live on Sky Sports on Wednesday, with a place in the next round of the competition up for grabs.
Fortunately for Derby, and Lampard, Chelsea have granted permission for loan duo Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount to feature in the match at Stamford Bridge.
When Lampard took the reins at Derby in the summer he was always expected to utilise his contacts at Chelsea to bring their best young talents to Pride Park. In those two loan additions, those expectations have rung true.
The Blues’ decision to allow both to play in the Carabao Cup match is a boost for all involved. Derby can use two of their top players this season in the clash in west London, while Chelsea can get a first-hand look at two of their rising stars in competitive action against Premier League opposition.
Tomori and Mount, meanwhile, are able to test their ability against their parent club when loan stipulations would otherwise have denied them the opportunity to play in midweek.
Chelsea vs Derby
October 31, 2018, 7:00pm
The duo have impressed in their loan stint with Derby this season. Tomori (6.98) and Mount (6.96) rank first and second as the Rams’ top-rated WhoScored.com players in the Championship and their availability is a huge boost for Lampard and his team.
Tomori has been a regular feature at the heart of the Derby defence having started 14 of 15 league matches, with the 20-year-old routinely exhibiting one of his three statistically calculated WhoScored.com strengths of ‘tackling’.
Indeed, only Scott Malone (2.2) is averaging more tackles-per-game than Tomori (2.1) of all Derby players this term, with the Canadian more than capable of denying an opponent when the Rams are on the back foot.
What’s more, his ability to time his tackles to a tee has seen Tomori dribbled past on just four occasions this season, a commendable return for a player enjoying his football in a Derby side that has been defensively sound this term, conceding just 16 league goals.
His notable concentration levels have also played a key role for a Derby side that has scored more counter-attacking goals (4) than any other Championship team this season.
Tomori’s ability to read a situation has seen him win possession in the defensive third 56 times this term, a return bettered only by Chris Mepham (58) of those aged 21 and under in the Championship thus far. One of Derby’s WhoScored.com strengths is ‘counter attacks’ and the defender’s influence from the back is crucial.
Tomori’s 56.4 passes-per-game is second only to Richard Keogh (60.8) of all Derby players this season as Tomori maximises his commendable quality of both dispossessing opponents and helping this Rams side build attacks from defence.
Against an Eden Hazard-less Chelsea attack, you’d expect Tomori, along with his defensive team-mates, to shut out a side where the two main strikers, Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata, have scored four competitive goals between them this season.
Lampard clearly demands his players dominate proceedings in league matches and it means their 54.6 per cent possession return is the third best in England’s second tier. Even so, they are able to surprise opponents with lightning counter-attacks, with the versatility in their approach a hugely effective route to goal.
Twenty-two goals scored is one of the better returns in the Championship and having a creative player of Mount’s ilk in the final third is crucial in ensuring these counters do not break down.
The 19-year-old, whose good form for Derby saw him rewarded with an England call-up last month, has the ability to spot a goalscoring opportunity to pry apart staunch opponents.
No player has made more key passes in the Championship this season than Mount (35) and while his chances created have returned just one assist, that says more about his team-mates’ profligacy than it does Mount, who is consistently churning out the opportunities for his fellow Derby players.
As and when they discover their shooting boots on a more consistent basis, that number will undoubtedly rise.
Chelsea may have conceded just seven goals this term, the third best return in the Premier League, but with Maurizio Sarri expected to rotate in midweek, that watertight back line will be penetrable and with Mount more than capable of pulling the strings, the teenager will be the creative fulcrum from midfield in a Derby side aiming to spring another Carabao Cup upset.
Their availability, then, is a huge boost for Lampard and while there was some concern over Mount’s fitness after he was forced off in the second half of the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough, the midfielder is expected to start in west London.
If both he and Tomori play to their full potential against their parent club, then we could see Lampard pull another rabbit out of the hat that would see Derby progress to the next round of the competition.
Watch Chelsea v Derby live on Wednesday from 7pm on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.
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