There is a common, online debate amongst Championship fans at the moment, deciding the leagues top five strikers in order – of which, very few do not have Forest’s, and now the league’s top scorer as their number one.
This is somewhat of a rarity for Forest fans, who have failed to secure the services of a top, proven striker for what seems an eternity.
With 14 goals in the league so far however – a 44% contribution to the Reds’ goal scoring tally overall – it is clear to see why Grabban is grabbing all of the plaudits both on Trent side and beyond.
In fact, David Johnson was the last Forest player to reach the 14 goal mark by this point in the campaign, way back in the 2002/03 season.
Four goals in the last two games against Ipswich and Villa, have outlined Grabban’s undoubted threat in front of goal – silencing the doubters who had prematurely written him off as ‘overpriced and overhyped’, at the start of the year.
Many have put his goals down to a ‘right place, right time’ mentality, typical of the top quality, Championship poacher reputation that he has garnered during spells at Villa, Sunderland and elsewhere.
As true as that label may be, in terms of goals – with all coming from inside the area, six from within the six yard box – it fails to do justice to the work Grabban does in other areas of the pitch and the contribution he has in fulfilling Aitor Karanka’s footballing philosophy.
First off, his mobility and dynamism – continued running in behind and into the channels, has allowed Forest’s creative midfield three to flourish, as spaces open for them to drive in to and deliver a cross for Grabban or relinquish a strike of their own.
As seen over large parts of the ex-Bournemouth man’s career, if given the right service he is amongst the most lethal finishers in the division – therefore, when playing to the strengths of those behind him, it increases the chance of an opening for the centre forward.
The goals and openings we had against Bolton, Hull and Ipswich, emphasised the various areas that Forest can attack from now.
Whilst Daryl Murphy is also an experienced striker at this level, the number nine no longer has the pace or agility to occupy a defender in the same way; many would argue he is one dimensional, something which Grabban is not.
His hold up play again demonstrates this, as when needed he has the strength and determination to hold off defenders and bring the likes of Lolley, Carvalho and Cash into the final third – again triggering attacks that Grabban will often end up finishing.
Against Leeds for example, after an early lead he was exceptional in shielding the ball from their backline, when Forest had their backs against the wall.
Even defensively, pressing high and harrying the opposition defence has contributed massively to Karanka’s intention to retain possession as quickly as possible and build again patiently.
It is an immense work rate for a lone striker – in fact, it is only when Forest are in controlled possession, that the former Norwich man is allowed a bit of respite – but it is a formula which is for now, working to a tee.
So yes, whilst Lewis Grabban’s goals may make him look like you have selected ‘poacher’ on your Football Manager player duties, his contribution to the team is what is making him so deadly.
Whilst there have been some popular Forest forwards in the past few years, it is hard to justify them as a genuine, ’20 goal a season’ striker.
Whether it be ball retention or occupying the opponents’ defence, he is capable of both igniting attacks and disposing of them as well – the sign, of a natural central forward who is more than worthy of topping the league’s scorers charts.
Picture Credit: Nottingham Forest