Fresh off the back of his Man of the Match performance, Richard Keogh has hailed Derby County’s team commitment and desire to earn clean sheets after claiming a fifth in six games in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
Immovable at the back, the Rams frustrated Villa, who bossed possession, to just two shots on target over the course of the 90 minutes, whilst at the other end, Gary Rowett’s men showed their quality once again.
Andreas Weimann, against his former club, and Johnny Russell both got on the scoresheet, but Derby recorded eight shots on target against their top-six rivals through some excellent counter-attacking play.
Even the consistent Keogh, himself, got in on the act – laying on his third assist of this campaign as Russell wrapped up the three points late on.
“The assist was nice,” he told RamsTV. “Getting forward is part of my game and I saw Johnny’s run, took a nice touch and managed to put the perfect weight on the pass.
“I think that’s like my third assist already! I haven’t managed to score yet, but I’m just as happy to assist. Overall, it was a good day and we got another clean sheet too.”
Their latest shutout was the Rams’ tenth of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season.
The Republic of Ireland international added: “That’s important. To win games in this league you have to be able to keep clean sheets.
“You only have to look at any team that has gone on to do well in this division, they have kept a lot of clean sheets.
“As a team, we are looking very solid, very resolute and we’re all putting our bodies on the line.
“That said, though, we have also got a lot of attacking threat in our team with the goals. This win is another step in the right direction.”
What the result importantly did do was put a five-point gap between Rowett’s men and Leeds United who sit just outside of the play-off positions – cementing their top-six berth as they approach the halfway stage of the campaign.
Far from getting carried away, Keogh says Derby will continue to go into every match with the same mindset.
“We’re ticking along nicely,” he said. “There’s a real togetherness in the group and in a league as cut-throat as this one you just have to look to the next game.
“We’re coming into a very busy period now, there’s a lot of games coming thick and fast – we have got Millwall next – and we’re then into the second half of the season!
“It’s going to be an exciting time. The lads are confident, we’re in good form, but we have to maintain the standard that we have set ourselves.
“Every game is a big one, it doesn’t matter who you are playing, and we are approaching every single match with the same mindset.”