Nottingham Forest host Arsenal at The City Ground on Saturday. Steve Cooper’s team begin the weekend three points above the relegation zone. Arsenal’s title challenge is all but over but they will want to finish on a strong note. Forest have taken 27 of their 34 points at home, a whopping 79%.
Nottingham Forest Form
Forest looked odds-on for relegation after Round 33. They were on an 11-match winless run (eight losses, three draws) at just the wrong time. They were on a run of just one loss in 11 at home before being outclassed 2-0 by Man Utd. A 3-2 loss with three set-piece goals conceded came next at Liverpool.
Since then, they’ve given themselves every chance of staying up. They took full advantage of a tired Brighton side in a 3-1 home win and followed a loss at Brentford with a key 4-3 home victory over Southampton. Last time out, they played well and earned a deserved 2-2 draw at Chelsea as Taiwo Awoniyi made it four goals in two matches.
Nottingham Forest Team News
Forest have had several injuries all season. Jonjo Shelvey and Emmanuel Dennis are back to boost options in midfield and attack respectively. Scott McKenna and Neco Williams are both out for the season in defensive positions. Chris Wood is also unavailable, as are several squad players.
Speed merchant Brennan Johnson is hoping for a recall in the attack. He was a victim of Steve Cooper switching from a 4-3-3 to a 5-4-1 shape last week. Central defender Joe Worrall came into the XI at Chelsea from the win against Southampton. Cooper must decide what setup works best for this one.
Nottingham Forest Motivation
The starting XI selected will tell us a lot. If it’s a back five and a lone striker, then Forest are planning to cede the ball and try to keep things tight. A 4-3-3 would indicate they intend to be more attacking.
Cooper’s side would likely be very happy with a draw in isolation but it depends on how teams around them fare this weekend. Expect lots of long throws and corners and quite a direct approach.
The Gunners have won just two of their last seven league matches. They looked likely title winners before that with seven wins on the bounce in response to losing 3-1 at home to Man City in mid-February. After successive 4-1 home wins against Crystal Palace and Leeds, they threw away a 2-0 lead at Liverpool in a game they should have lost.
Two more draws followed, again losing a 2-0 lead at West Ham and then needing two late goals to draw 3-3 a home with Southampton. They were thoroughly outclassed 4-1 at Man City to lose control of the title race. They refocused in 3-1 home wins against Chelsea and a very fine 2-0 win away at Newcastle. However, their last match saw them outplayed in a 3-0 home loss to Brighton.
Arsenal Team News
Mikel Arteta is without Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko for the final three matches. Kieran Tierney will continue at left back. William Saliba is not expected to feature again this season either with Jakub Kiwior deputising.
Left winger Gabriel Martinelli went off injured against Brighton and may not return for this match. Leandro Trossard could start but Reiss Nelson is another option having scored a brace in the reverse fixture. Thomas Partey could be recalled in midfield with either Jorginho or Granit Xhaka dropping out.
The title is gone, but Arsenal will play to win and look to end the season well. It’s a chance for a few lesser-used players to get minutes.
They will attack in this match, try to play on the front foot and will look to keep scoring if they’re ahead.
Nottm Forest have taken 27 of their 34 points at home
Forest have lost just 2 of their last 14 home matches
Nottingham Forest have beaten Liverpool at home this season and drawn with Man City
Arsenal have won just 2 of their last 7 league matches (L2, D3)
Arsenal’s last 11 away league matches have seen them score 2+ goals on 8 occasions
Arsenal won the reverse fixture 5-0 at home
The Gunners should have enough to bounce back and win this match. Forest are not an easy nut to crack at home though and faces an injury-hit Arsenal defence. I can see both sides scoring but Arteta’s side taking the three points.