Tag Archives: Nottingham Forest

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

Mind UK and the English Football League team up to launch the EFL Virtual Football Manager Cup!

Missing the thrill of seeing live football? Well EFL, Mind UK and Football Manager have collaborated to come up with perhaps the next best thing.

Following the postponement of live action on the football pitch, alongside the English Football League and the Mental Health Charity, Mind UK, Football Manager has decided to launch the EFL Football Manager Cup, an online tournament that kicks-off this week.

So far fans have been able to see Nottingham Forest winger Joe Lolley lead his team to a 2-1 win against Leeds United fan, Rob Callery’s side.  While virtual boss James Moulding’s Preston North End enjoyed a remarkable 10-1 victory over Crawley Town!

Elsewhere there have so far been wins for Middlesbrough, Mansfield Town and Leyton Orient.

The tournament is due to take place over the next month and involves 54 clubs from across the English Football League, with each being represented by a virtual manager who is part of that club either as a player, backroom staff or a supporter.

Football players featuring in the competition include goalkeeper Lee Camp, who is in charge of his current club Birmingham City, Ollie Kensdale is the man calling the shots for Colchester United and Blackburn’s Adam Armstrong is making the key decisions for his club.

The tournament is a straight knockout competition with the final due to take place in mid-May.  After each round is completed there will be highlights uploaded onto the FM YouTube channel for you to catch up on.

Crucially throughout the tournament you can also show your support for Mind UK by donating on this JustGiving page, which is open throughout the tournament.

The first round is due to finish on Thursday with games being played throughout the next few days, so you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful game.

  • Round one match dates – Monday April 20th to Thursday April 23rd
  • Round two – Week commencing April 27th
  • Round of 16 – Week commencing May 4th
  • Quarter-finals – Monday May 11th to Thursday May 14th
  • Semi-finals – Saturday May 16th
  • Final – Sunday May 17th

Game on!

Nottingham Forest 2 – Leeds United 0

Nottingham Forest produced a fine display in front of a vibrant sell-out City Ground crowd to close the gap to the automatic promotion places to just a single point.

Sabri Lamouchi made one change from last weekend’s defeat to Birmingham City as the returning Samba Sow replaced Ryan Yates in the centre of the Forest midfield. There was also a place on the substitutes’ bench for new signing Gaetan Bong following his arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The match started fairly slowly, Forest’s first effort on target coming from Thiago Silva whose long-range shot was easily saved. Forest also had a good penalty shout when Joe Worall was pulled to the ground from a corner kick.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men were looking dangerous coming forward but as is so often the case lacked the cutting edge in attack. Ezgjan Alioski came close as his effort deflected off Joe Lolley on the edge of the Forest box but fortunately for The Reds, it drifted wide of Brice Samba’s goal.

Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area following a good one-two with Yuri Ribero, Ameobi had the option the cross to Lewis Grabban who was in a good position but lashed a shot beyond Casilla who looked as if he was expecting Ameobi the cross to the delight of the ecstatic Reds supporters.


Arguably, Forest deserved their advantage and they certainly should have doubled the lead ten minutes into the second half. A superb driving run from Lolley made space inside the final third, he laid the ball off to Lewis Grabban and despite shifting it cleverly to the right, he then drilled his shot straight at the legs of a floored Casilla.


Forest keeper Samba produced an outstanding save to keep Forest in front with 15 minutes to play. Liam Cooper was left unmarked inside the Forest penalty area and he met a left-wing corner and despite Samba being on the floor at the time, he stretched a hand up into the air to miraculously claw the defender’s header off the line. From some angles, in the crowd, the ball looked over the line but TV goal-line technology showed the ball was plum on the line when Samba punched it away.


In the final minute of stoppage time, Joe Lolley did superbly well to win the ball inside the Leeds half, powered on into the box and squared it to the supporting Walker who tapped home into Casilla’s unguarded net. It was a dream return to Forest for Walker who came on as a late substitute for Lewis Grabban to make his first City Ground appearance in around 2 years, during which he has enjoyed excellent scoring form in loan spells at Mansfield and Lincoln.

There was a big-game feel on Trentside and Forest were the team who left with all the glory. It was an absorbing, entertaining end-to-end contest, despite Leeds predictably having 70% possession they struggled to create a cut chance, with Forest once again proving they are hard to break down and looked by far the more threatening in an energetic, resourceful and clinical counter-attacking display.

Nottingham Forest boss, Sabri Lamouchi: “It was a massive result and a massive performance against a fantastic team. Leeds made more mistakes than usual, but we disturbed them without the ball. My players played with fight and determination and they played so well today. The players made me so proud and happy. We have 15 more games and we play again in three days. This league is crazy and you must be ready each game. My goal was to finish the season, the last time a [Forest] manager did that was 11 or 12 seasons ago.”

Match Stats

FORESTLEEDS
POSSESION30%70%
SHOTS1413
SHOTS ON TARGET61
CORNERS 38
FOULS 1114
Click above to watch match highlights on youtube

FOREST v LEEDS Preview

Nottingham Forest versus Leeds is always one of the biggest matches of the season for Forest fans. This one however is bigger than ever, taking on extra significance as both teams are in the race for promotion. Leeds are second four points ahead of fourth- placed Forest which means a win for either side will have a massive effect on their chances of automatic promotion.

Form Guide

Leeds are on a poor run of form with just one win in six, whilst losing four which has seen the gap between the two sides dramatically diminish – due to Forest’s form of three wins, two draws, and one defeat in the last six. That one defeat was last weekend as Forest let a 1-0 lead slip against Birmingham, in a game that turned quickly when Lewis Grabban missed a penalty for the chance to go 2-0 up. Birmingham equalised almost immediately after Forest had bossed proceedings up until then. At the same time, Leeds were losing at home to Wigan (again), which meant Forest could have closed the gap even more and put themselves in a position to leapfrog Leeds with victory over them.

TEAM NEWS

Forest are hopeful that midfielder Samba Sow will be able to return to the side after missing the defeat to Birmigham, Sow has proved a key man having missed all but one of Forest’s defeats this season. Leeds also have a key midfielder missing with Kalvin Phillips missing through suspension. Both sides must decide whether to give debuts to Strikers signed in the January transfer window. Neither Nuno Da Costa (Forest) nor Jean-Kevin Augustin (Leeds) featured last weekend and should both be on the bench for this one.

Head To Head

Forest have a good recent record against Leeds, The meeting at Elland Road this season ended dramatically as Lewis Grabban scored a late equaliser to secure Forest a vital point. Last season’s meetings also had drama and controversy. Forest were leading 1-0 at Elland Road until late on when Kemar Roofe handled the ball into the goal, but the goal was given. The match at the City Ground took place on New Year’s Day 2019 and Forest were 4-2 victors after a topsy-turvy encounter. Leed’s last victory came in August 2017 with a 2-0 victory at the City Ground.

Elsewhere in the Promotion race, leaders West Brom travel to play-off chasing Millwall on Sunday, Fulham are at Blackburn Rovers, Brentford are at home to Middlesbrough, Bristol City play Birmingham on Friday night and Swansea are at home against Derby County.

Championship Table (Top 10)

PositionTeamPointsGD 
1.West Bromwich Albion5620 
2.Leeds United5519 
3,Fulham5213 
4.Nottingham Forest5111 
5.Brentford5026 
6.Bristol City504 
7.Preston North End478 
8.Swansea City461 
9.Millwall453 
10.Blackburn Rovers446 

Brentford 0-1 Forest – Match Report

On a massive night in the race for promotion to the Premier League then 4th placed Nottingham Forest took on 5th placed Brentford at Griffin Park. The match was a big test of both teams’ promotion credentials, Brentford were on a 6 game winning streak at home and the Forest boss said pre-match that it would be a tactical battle.

It was he who won the battle with a slight change to the way he lined his side up; Joe Lolley moved from his normal wide birth to a number 10 role and Tiago Silva moved to the left-hand side. This move worked a treat and caught Brentford by surprise – as not only was Lolley causing danger running through the centre of the pitch, he was stopping Brentford deep-lying playmaker Christian Norgaard from getting on the ball. It was Lolley himself who got the goal in the 14th minute. A Forest corner was half-cleared to Lolley who had time to get his shot away which took a deflection into the top corner.

Brentford started and continued to dominate the possession but Forest have shown this season they know how to deal with pressure away from home and hit teams superbly on the counter-attack. Brentford were put off by Forest’s physicality and perceived time-wasting, with goalkeeper Brice Samba getting booked for taking too long to take a free-kick after just 24 minutes.

The match was being played at frenetic tempo with action at both ends of the pitch. Forest should have had the chance to go 2 up when Lewis Grabban was tugged back in the area but for some reason, the penalty was not given, Brentford broke from that incident to create their best opportunity for Ollie Watkins but their top scorer blazed over.

Brentford pushed on after half time in pursuit of an equaliser but again Forest were a threat on the break and Lewis Grabban had a great chance when a long ball dropped for him in the box but keeper David Raya saved at point-blank range. Brentford’s famous “BMW” frontline were superbly managed by the Forest defenders and although Brentford had chances, they didn’t come off.

The victory saw Forest climb to third in the table, with West Brom losing 2-1 at Cardiff, and just 2 points behind the baggies in 2nd place. Leeds went back to the top after a thrilling three goal comeback from 2-0 down.

Forest face Leeds at home in 10 days and West Brom a week later in two vital and exciting games. The opportunity is there for Forest to overtake their rivals. Of Course, it is exciting to be in with the chance of automatic promotion, but a play-off spot would be great.

Brentford manager Thomas Frank said after that match:

” It was a 0-0 game and not a good game of football for both sides. Forest are a good side and they are where they are for a reason. They are well organised and set out to make it scrappy from minute one. When you see them time-wasting so early you know you have done something good at Griffin Park. They paid us a lot of respect and didn’t let us get any tempo in the game.”

Nottingham Forest’s Sabri Lamouchi:

“[It was a] massive win on a difficult pitch against one of the best teams in the league. The players’ attitude, character, and personality was perfect. We were lucky to score early on and this changed the game, but to be honest the team deserved this result.” He added in an interview with BBC Radio Nottingham that he was hoping for a good surprise in the transfer market and chose to rather praise his current squad than talk about possible incomings.

Forest are desperate for a striker to ease the pressure, workload and help Lewis Grabban. Nakki Wells has been heavily linked and would be top of the list. It will come down to how much forest are willing to pay and if Wells is happy enough to possibly be the second choice to Grabban.