As Aitor Karanka said after our performance against Birmingham City on Saturday, ‘we cannot keep fooling ourselves’, with dramatic fightbacks and draws from games which we should be winning.
He is right – after the excitement and hysteria of watching Daryl Murphy’s 87th minute equaliser, I plummeted back into reality, after properly evaluating what was another poor performance from Forest.
Another, very sluggish start from the Reds allowed the visitors to settle into a game which they expected to be dominated from the off.
Lucas Jutkiewicz’s goal in the 21st minute was the source of another midfield error and allowed Garry Monk’s side to grow in confidence even more, as Forest simply failed to turn up for the first half.
Beyond that even, only after going 2-0 down to Che Adams’ strike, did it seem to register in the minds of Karanka’s men that this was a competitive fixture worth fighting for.
It goes without thinking, that the substitutions of Carvalho, Osborn and then goal scorer, Joe Lolley, effectively saved the game at the City Ground.
Overall, it was a very mediocre display from the home side, which failed to live up to the tremendous atmosphere which supported them – only to be rescued by a completely different, more hungry side in the last 15.
We may still be unbeaten, but failing to grasp all three points from Saturday’s game, makes a positive result against Brentford at the weekend, all the more important.
For our trip to Griffin Park, here is my Reds starting eleven…
Pantilimon, Darikwa, Dawson, Fox, Robinson, Colback, Osborn, Cash, Carvalho, Lolley, Murphy
A slight shuffle at the back, bringing in Michael Dawson for Tobias Figueiredo, who was poor against Birmingham.
Darikwa looks set to start after a worrying injury to Sam Byram against Newcastle in mid week; meanwhile, Jack Robinson improved greatly when given greater support by the covering Ben Osborn.
Osborn’s dogged and determined display after coming on made a huge difference – more alert, bright and energetic than the lethargic, Ben Watson, the number 11 did enough to warrant himself a position in central midfield on Saturday alongside Colback, who also benefits from the endurance of Osborn.
Matty Cash’s similarly impressive hard work, should also see him start again ahead of Goncalves and Dias.
Carvalho linked play much better in the final third, compared to a rushed and hurried Hilal Soudani who seemed to struggle in his first league start.
Joe Lolley’s excellent display after coming off the bench more than staked his claim to start on the left side of midfield – his direct, darting runs and vigorous shots from distance will cause Brentford problems, if he is counted fit after picking up a knock midweek.
Lewis Grabban looks to have joined Adlene Guedioura on the short term injury list, in which case Daryl Murphy should start – but Forest must adapt to his game and play to the number 9’s strengths as they hinted at on Tuesday; having lacked service for the large part of the season when featured.
Having started the campaign unbeaten with two wins and two draws, including an impressive 5-1 victory against Rotherham United on the opening day, Brentford suffered their first defeat of the season away to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
The Bees finished 9th in the Championship last year and will be amongst those hoping to compete for the play-offs again this season, making the prospect of victory against Forest on Saturday, all the more appetising.
Managed by former Walsall manager Dean Smith, the club have continued to follow their trademark, attacking philosophy, which has earned them many plaudits over the last few years.
Setting up as a 4-2-3-1, expect plenty of movement from the dynamic, attacking three behind the lone striker, as well as from central midfield – who will look to catch Forest quickly when in possession.
Starting XI vs Blackburn Rovers:
GK – Daniel Bentley
RB – Henrik Dalsgaard
CB – Ezri Konsa Ngoyo
CB – Chris Mepham
LB – Yoann Barbet
CM – Nico Yennaris
CM – Kamohelo Mokotjo (c)
CM – Romaine Sawyers
RF – Said Benrahma
CF – Marcus Forss
LF – Ollie Watkins
Missing centre forward Neil Maupay due to suspension, is a blow with limited resources behind to cover; Finland youth international, Forss will most likely feature, after a decent display against Rovers.
The pacey Ollie Watkins will be at the front of Aitor Karanka’s concerns, with the winger scoring three in his opening three matches.
The intent of Brentford’s attack however, can leave them vulnerable in the full back positions – if Forest can retain possession quickly, then the likes of Cash and Lolley can capitalize.
A performance more like our one against Newcastle on Wednesday, as oppose to Birmingham, would be a much more welcome site to those making the trip down south at the weekend.
A positive result against a strong, Brentford side away from home, could be the match which ignites Forest season back into life.
Picture Credit: Nottingham Forest