Derby County vs. Reading
Saturday December 18, 15:00, Pride Park
Two teams with hopes of a top six place in the Championship clash in the East Midlands this weekend as Derby and Reading look to end respective poor runs and return to winning ways.
Despite those runs, the Rams sit just three points off the play offs and their visitors from Berkshire are a further three behind - albeit with a game in hand still to play.
County head into the game off the back of three successive defeats. Last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Bristol City followed 2-1 reverses at home to Norwich and away at Burnley.
Boss Nigel Clough will be confident of a positive result on Saturday though, with his side's tally of 24 goals at Pride Park the division's best home scoring record.
Indeed, the Rams had won six successive home matches seeing off Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Preston, Watford, Portsmouth, and Scunthorpe before their loss to Norwich.
The Canaries are one of three teams to have taken maximum spoils back with them from Derbyshire, with Cardiff and Sheffield United also victorious earlier in the campaign.
Pivotal to County's fortunes this term has been experienced midfielder Robbie Savage, who is key in the centre of midfield in dictating the attractive passing game Clough has implemented.
However, it's talented midfielder Kris Commons, with 11 goals already, who has been by far Derby's best source of goals and he will once again be looked upon for inspiration against the Royals.
For their part, Reading make the trip north hoping to avoid a sixth draw to extend the newly established club record of five.
Brian McDermott's men have played out 0-0 stalemates in recent home matches with Coventry and Leeds, which followed 1-1 draws with Cardiff and Watford and a stunning comeback which ensured a 3-3 draw against Norwich.
It means that the Royals haven't won a match since the end of October, a statistic they will be keen to change as they aim to keep up pace in an increasingly congested group of play off chasers.
Their away form has been a mixed affair, with wins gained at Leicester and via a 4-0 romp at Burnley. However, they have also tasted defeat at Bristol City, Middlesbrough, and QPR.
Finding a reliable goalscorer seems to be at the heart of Reading's inconsistency so far this term. McDermott's side includes four players all with four goals to their name.
That includes defender and set piece specialist Ian Harte, centre half Matt Mills, midfielder Jimmy Kebe, and striker Shane Long. Evidence of a goalscoring threat they offer from all over the pitch.
In such a competitive division, it's incredibly difficult to know how these games are going to go. Both Derby and Reading are not on form and both will know the importance of a win on Saturday.
It's not always the way, but home advantage can sometimes make the difference, and that could be enough to help free-scoring Derby get back to winning ways at Pride Park.
Nobes' Prediction: Derby County 2 Reading 1