Well thank God that is over – no more watching irrelevant, mid week international fixtures at irrelevant, plastic football grounds…we can now return to watching proper football.
It will be two weeks since Forest’s disappointing performance away at Brentford, when Forest return to league action against Swansea City on Saturday.
The travelling Garibaldi Army will be hoping for a more positive result in South Wales, than the 2-1 defeat in West London which ended Forest’s unbeaten start to the season.
As much as the performance was one to forget at Griffin Park, the break arrived at an unfortunate time for Forest in my opinion.
The best way I can illustrate this is by imagining having a big argument with your missus/mister whilst out at Baa Bar at the weekend – the best way to deal with it? Take them to Annie’s Burger Shack mid week, settle your differences and hope for a positive result come the end of the night.
Or instead let the grumbles carry on and on, for the next two weeks before you return to Revolution again.
As it is Forest have had the time to regroup and realign areas of concern, which Aitor Karanka has done somewhat publicly with the recruitment of Claudio Yacob and Panagiotis Tachtsidis – with at least one more also, seemingly on the horizon.
A brash move from the manager who clearly saw issues in his central midfield who were run ragged by a well drilled and composed Brentford side.
Their arrivals and the return from a successful international break for our Portuguese trio, will hopefully encourage the Reds to vengeance for our play off semi final defeat at the Liberty Stadium, back in 2011.
My Forest XI: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Hefele, Fox, Robinson, Guedioura, Yacob, Cash, Carvalho, Lolley, Grabban
Saidy Janko’s arrival from Porto will be apt competition for Darikwa, now Sam Byram looks to be out for the season, his performance in this game will certainly help determine Karanka’s future plans for the right back position.
Hefele and Fox remain at the back, despite a below par and over boiled showing against Brentford, however I would not be surprised to see a more calming Michael Dawson make his return.
Guedioura’s hopeful return will be a huge boost for Forest, who have been stagnant and lacking ideas since picking up an injury at Wigan back in August; depending on his fitness, it would be good to see the experienced Yacob partner the Algerian, with his more defensive, protective approach.
Matty Cash has been consistently the best player for Forest since the start of the season and his continued energy shows no signs of letting, so he should feature ahead of Gil Dias, as should Joe Lolley.
Taken over by former Ostersunds manager, Graham Potter during the summer, the Welsh side have made an assured start in their return to the Championship, after being relegated from the top flight last year.
Picking up three points away at Millwall in their last game, despite having only ten men for the large majority of the game, the Swans now sit in 7th place.
Potter who helped lead the Swedish side to the round of 32 in the Europa League last term and has a self proclaimed mantra for his teams to be ‘tactically flexible, attacking, possession-based’.
Preferring a 4-3-3 formation when at home, Reds fans are likely to see former player, Barrie McKay feature in a Swansea side who will look to be replicating a similar performance to Brentford – carving Forest open with controlled, incisive possession and free flowing movement.
Last starting XI at home (against Bristol City): GK – Erwin Mulder, RB – Connor Roberts, CB – Mike van der Hoorn, CB – Joe Rodon, LB – Martin Olsson, CM – Bersant Celina, CM – Jay Fulton, CM- Tom Carroll, RAM – Joel Asoro, CF – Oliver McBurnie, LAM – Barrie McKay
With a depth of talent and experience in the midfield areas, Forest must be at their best to prevent the Swans from dictating the flow of the game; the likes of Tom Carroll and Jay Fulton are players who are comfortable with the ball at their feet and should not be granted time in possession.
McBurnie looks to have already set himself as the arrowhead of the City attack scoring four goals already this term; therefore spiking the supply of McKay and Asoro on the wings will be pivotal.
Despite the prowess in the middle of the park, the home side do have vulnerabilities – particularly with the pace of Forest’s attacking midfielders, there is the ability to get in behind such an attack minded side.
If the Reds can take a positive performance and avoid defeat against one of the league’s stronger sides away from home, then their will be foundations to build upon in two vital, upcoming home games for Karanka’s men; which may make, or break our season.
Picture Credit: Nottingham Forest