Derby County’s near-perfect December was rewarded as Gary Rowett and Scott Carson were presented with the Sky Bet Championship Manager and Player of the Month awards respectively on Friday.
The Rams won five of their six games to lift themselves from sixth to second in the table, a superb achievement given the consistency that was shown by the team over a busy period of fixtures.
Here are some of the key facts and figures that helped to lift Rowett’s side into the automatic promotion places…
Carson’s resurgence has been one of the key positives at Pride Park Stadium since he arrived from Wigan Athletic in 2015, with the ‘keeper enjoying particularly strong form since Rowett’s arrival; recording 13 clean sheets in 35 league appearances under the boss.
Even more impressively, 12 of those have come this season with Carson only conceding 23 goals in the Championship so far, a record bettered only by Nuno Espirito Santo’s table-topping Wolves.
Last month though, the Rams were in a league of their own.
Carson kept five clean sheets on the bounce before the trip to Ipswich Town, where Joe Garner’s second-half header was the only thing that stopped our No.1 from equalling a club record sequence of six in a row.
Sharing The Load
Rowett made it clear when he won the Manager of the Month award back in October that it was a team effort, and it is no different this time around.
No team scored more goals than Derby in December, but it’s the way that the 11 goals were shared around that demonstrates Rowett’s point most clearly.
Every player to be selected in an attacking role across the six games made an impact, with Johnny Russell, Sam Winnall, Matej Vydra, Andreas Weimann and David Nugent all scoring twice, whilst Tom Lawrence also added another strike after breaking his duck against QPR in November.
Bradley Johnson was the only player to start as one of the front four not to get on the scoresheet, but he still made a crucial contribution with two assists.
Record Run On The Road
You would have to go back to when Rowett was a player at the club to find the last time that Derby went nine league games unbeaten away from home.
The run went from November 1995 to March 1996 as the Rams powered towards automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Rowett’s side haven’t lost away from home since the 4-1 reverse at Bristol City in September, a result that saw Derby drop down to 15th in the Championship table.
Everyone will be hoping that the strong away form will prove a catalyst for a promotion push, just as it did nearly 22 years ago.
Near-Faultless Festive Form
As well as topping the December scoring charts and conceding the least amount of goals, the Rams also accumulated the highest number of points.
Five wins and a draw earned Derby 16 points from their six games, with Wolves and Preston North End trailing behind on 14 from their fixtures.
A draw against Sheffield United on New Year’s Day ensured that Rowett’s side started 2018 with a two-point lead from third-placed Cardiff City, and the Rams will be working to maintain that gap when they travel to Birmingham City on Saturday.