VICTORY at Barnsley was just the start Derby County wanted to what is a big week for the club..
Derby enter the New Year in second place in the Championship and on a run of just one defeat in 14 matches.
The win against Barnsley was their eighth in an unbeaten sequence of nine games. They are the division’s leading scorers and can boast the best away record with eight wins and two draws from a dozen fixtures on the road.
The year 2013 cannot have ended much better.
Now they have the opportunity to start 2014 with a bang.
Wigan Athletic visit the iPro Stadium today, kick-off 3pm, before Premier League Chelsea come to town for an FA Cup third-round tie on Sunday.
“We spoke about starting this week well, and we have done,” head coach Steve McClaren said.
“We had a big win at Barnsley at the start of a big week for us.”
McClaren is aware of the threat Wigan pose.
The Latics are finding their feet under new manager Uwe Rosler following the sacking of Owen Coyle.
They have won two and drawn two of the four matches under Rosler, the former Brentford boss. They beat Bolton Wanderers 3-2 and won 2-1 at Reading. Their last two games have ended in goalless draws against Birmingham City and Burnley.
McClaren guided Derby to a 3-1 victory at Wigan at the beginning of December.
Goals from Craig Bryson, Simon Dawkins and Chris Martin, a penalty, put the Rams three up within half an hour and they completely outplayed Wigan in the first half at the DW Stadium.
Wigan’s side included Callum McManaman, James McClean and Nick Powell, and striker Grant Holt made a big difference as a second-half substitute.
“Wigan, as we know, have got good players and a good squad,” McClaren said.
“Uwe Rosler has gone into a similar situation we came into here. He has done the same, he has got some decent results and is organising them.”
Derby’s commitments in the League are the top priority but the FA Cup draw against Chelsea has caused great excitement.
The tie at the iPro Stadium is a sell-out and is to be televised.
It is a chance for McClaren’s team to pit their impressive form against one of the best sides in the country.
As McClaren said, it is a big week for the club.