A gift of a goal settled this game early on for Coventry.
Positive shape and control.
Finally, we got Hamer on the ball and enabled him to get behind a midfield line. Holding on to the ball and driving at defenders provides the time needed for support players to join the attack.
This moment is so significant, not just because of it was the only goal of the game, but you can see the shape and intent of Coventry in this moment.
Derby have pushed Roberts and Knight forward. This plays into Coventry's hands as the back 5 are often negative and deep, those wingers take themselves out of the game. Byrne picks up the ball in an unfamiliar area, but the mistake is forced not by O'Hare, but by the diamond shape underneath.
There were various moments in the first half where Coventry's shape beat Derby. The goal was one example, and here is another. McCallum played long to Biamou, who layed the ball off to an advancing James. O'Hare moved into the #9 and in the chaos, Wisdom and Byrne are out of the game. Kelly is underneath and the Coventry diamond overloads the center of the field. Note the Derby wingers, Roberts and Knight out of the game again, and Dabo is circled as the ball found him further up the field though his chance was wasted.
Offered very little going forward in the first half. Much of that was due to the positional dominance of Coventry. You can see Knight tucked in next to Dabo. Waghorn and Kazim occupied centrally, offering no outlet. Byrne on the ball is outnumbered and Coventry still have a spare man in Hyam. The 4-4-2 was predictable and limited due to the numbers behind the ball for Coventry.
We're still prone to mistakes.
Coventry had more possession early on, and often the outlet is Hyam. All too often, these passes lead to turnovers and counter-attacks.
In another example, Hyam receives the ball as Coventry work to break the press of Derby. You can see McFadzean telling Hyam to play wide into the path of McCallum. However, the ball goes back to Wilson.
The resulting pass, and pressure that comes with it leads to a mistake from Wilson trying to play into Hyam. Roberts steals the ball and it deflects just wide. These are the moments where Coventry still struggle.
Here is one of the few moments where Derby turned Coventry. Possession built on the right and then switched to the left. Dabo, having dropped deep into the back 5, steps to press the ball. He does it woefully and Buchanan skips right past him. There's the mistake that allows teams to drive at the back line. In this moment Derby go nowhere and end up losing the ball as they try to recyclye the ball.
Importantly, Coventry did not concede before half time.
Freekicks and Corners.
To quote the great Steve Ogrizovic, 40% of the goals Derby have scored have come from Set pieces. Tie that into my analysis on zonal marking and the amount of set pieces we give away, and you would think we're in trouble. Each game we're reminded on CWR of corner counts, after all.
Yet Coventry defended set pieces effectively in this game, compared to previous efforts. The image below has zoomed in to show how Coventry look to combat previous issues. Both Biamou and Ostigard are at the back post. Hyam is there too. There are four Derby players moving, but the ball was not good enough in most instances for Derby to threaten Coventry.
See it out.
The cover image shows it all. Coventry defending as resolutely as they can, yet Wilson not even looking ready, and all whilst Watson hits it further from the goal than where he is stood.
Derby had 3 shots with 61% possession in the second half.
Derby played with their shape somewhat in the second half to try and combat the central command that Coventry had. The image below shows how Derby were trying to build through the flanks but Coventry have every player minus Biamou behind the ball. In the game versus Middlesborough a foul lead to the Boro's first goal in the same area. Today, Coventry corrected that issue.
As the game went on, Coventry sat deeper. As a fan, you can't be mad, but it creates opportunities for your opponent. As Derby shifted to play with 3 forwards, Watson in this moment, was able to check into the space vacated as Coventry dropped. The result was a through ball to the lively Jozwiak and a blocked cross leading to a corner.
The bright spark for Derby? Jozwiak came on and caused Coventry the same problems they have faced, out wide, in the past few games. Why didn't Rooney start with the 4-3-3 that gave them more of the ball and more threat?
The concern would be that Coventry could have had another goal or two, and still managed to miss those opportunities. The big chance from Matty James that came back off the post is just another example of Coventry's lack of execution. These next few games are going to be tight and whilst I think Coventry have enough to get on a winning run, missed chances are still a concern. However, the shape worked for Coventry today with a dominant performance in the middle of the field, a tireless Biamou again was a star. Coventry had 3 strikers on the bench and none of them came on. A testament to the performances of Biamou.
I would expect a classic 'same lineup' for the next game and I think it makes sense given we play Rotherham. Coventry should expect to control the game more, and any sort of press that Rotherham want to deploy should be met with stretched positioning behind pressing lines. If the ball keeps going to Hyam, we're in trouble.