Forest Preview vs Birmingham City

A 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium, salvaged by a last minute penalty rebound from Hilal Soudani, kept Forest’s unbeaten ball rolling for the 2018/19 season…but only by the skin of their teeth.

Drab, uninspired and clumsy, Forest were very fortunate to actually be coming in only 2-1 down at the half time whistle – gifting more prize openings than an episode of Deal or No Deal to Paul Cook’s men.

Mark Warburton appears to still be stabbing his set piece voodoo doll, after yet another mesmerising display in how not to defend a corner from the Reds rear guard resulted in Nick Powell nodding into a vacant net with barely a minute gone.

It looked to be the start of a miserable away day for fans who had travelled up the M6, as the Latics looked to double their lead early on – that before the keen to impress Matty Cash finished on 10 minutes, after a sloppy mistake from Sam Morsy.

Will Grigg’s penalty on the half hour mark was deserved and foreseeable, based on the balance of the game, as Forest continued to be far off the pace for the first 45 minutes.

A slight increase in urgency in the second half may go some way to legitimising a share of the points, but ultimately this was a day in which Forest’s resolve and battle will be held in higher regard than the performance.

It is often said that the best teams know how to get results, even when they are playing poorly – perhaps this is the kind of gritty determination, we need to see, to pair with the potential flair and fancy we recruited in the summer.

Maybe karma is now repaying us after being on the receiving end of 97th minute, Aaron Wilbraham, mishit finishes, despite having 89% of possession and 47 shots on target.

Now it may be our turn to be lucky.

The City Ground faithful will be hoping for less reliance on superstition come Saturday evening, as they look for a more convincing performance against Birmingham City.

Here is my Forest line-up…

Pantilimon, Byram, Dawson, Fox, Robinson, Osborn, Watson, Cash, Soudani, Lolley, Grabban

We need to have a greater grasp of how to defend crosses, whether they be from dead ball or open play – Figueiredo’s poor showing on Saturday, should see Dawson come in for more experience.

I would like to see Sam Byram and Jack Robinson come in for their first league starts, just to rack up the competition for places in full back positions and to build their match sharpness.

With Adlene Guedioura likely to be missing due to a fractured cheekbone suffered against Wigan in the first half, there will be a loss of dynamism in the middle – with both Colback and Watson more conservative than adventurous.

This is why I would select Ben Osborn to be the replacement engine in the midfield, to help drive Forest forward in a position many fans prefer to see him play.

The choice of Soudani or Carvalho will be a headache for Karanka when preparing for the game, however the Algerian’s energetic display at the weekend merits a starting eleven place on Trent side at the weekend.

The Opposition: Birmingham City

Garry Monk’s Blues side admitted earlier this week that his side will likely need a ‘hint of luck’, if they are to come away with a positive result from the City Ground.

Monk will likely adopt a similar system to both Reading and West Brom, with the intent to frustrate Forest and be quick on the counter attack.

Lineup against Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2) :

GK – Lee Camp, RB – Maxime Colin, CB – Michael Morrison, CB – Harlee Dean, LB – Kristian Pedersen, RM – Jota, CM – Gary Gardner, CM – Maikel Kieftenbeld, LM – Jacques Maghoma, CF – Omar Bogle, CF – Lucas Jutkiewicz

To get an insight into the City camp, I spoke to @the92Blog’s very own @BluesJack_ before their 1-0 loss to Bolton Wanderers in midweek.

“Depending on our result against Bolton I can’t see Monk changing a lot, if we get three points and a strong performance it’ll be the same as the Swansea City game. If not, there may be a few changes”

Jack identified Jota and Maghoma, as the ones to watch in their side, ‘as they provide attacking threat and creativity – on their day they can be unplayable’

After a disappointing 19th place finish last year, Jack feels that this term will be more about steadying the ship, rather than reaching for the higher ends of the table: ‘honesty I can only see a mid table finish, but that’s something Birmingham need after a few years of staring down the barrel’

‘My heart says we could come away with a draw at the weekend, but the fact Forest are going to be at home in front of a bumper crowd might just get them over the line. I’m going to be optimistic and go for a 1-1 draw’

Picture Credit: Nottingham Forest


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