This weekend sees two of the newly promoted sides face-off, as Nottingham Forest welcome AFC Bournemouth to the City Ground with both sides looking for their second win of the season.
Nottingham Forest head into this weekend’s fixture on the back of their 6-0 defeat against Manchester City, the Reds haven’t won since the second game of the season but a matchup against the South Coast side presents a perfect opportunity to find their feet in the Premier League.
Just two-days ago Bournemouth parted ways with manager Scott Parker, the Englishman has openly criticised the lack of support he received in the transfer market and was shown the door following the Cherries’ 9-0 obliteration by Liverpool last weekend.
After their poor results against Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively, both sides now have conceded the most goals in the league – Forest have conceded 11 in their opening five fixtures whilst Bournemouth have conceded 14 goals, despite keeping two-clean sheets. With the two teams having scored just four goals between them, Saturday not only sees the two most leaky defences go up together, but also the two lowest scoring attacks.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Venue: The City Ground, Nottingham.
Date: 3rd September 2022.
Time: 15:00pm (BST).
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett.
Fourth official: Matt Donohue.
VAR: Graham Scott.
Assistant VAR: Simon Long.
It’s another matchday but the same set of injuries for Nottingham Forest. Moussa Niakhate is nearing a return but is still likely to miss out after picking up an injury against West Ham in game week 2. Both Omar Richards and Orel Mangal will also miss this weekend’s action as they spend more time in the recovery room.
For the visitors, their injury room isn’t looking quite as full. Bean Pearson is a doubt after picking up a knock against Liverpool, whilst it’s uncertain if Joe Rothwell or Junior Stanislas will be fit enough to make the squad. On a positive note, David Brooks, who was diagnosed with cancer back in October 2021 is nearing a return to the senior game, having picked up minutes for the U21’s midweek.
Looking at both side’s previous three fixtures it’s really tough to anticipate which way this is going to go. Bournemouth lost to both Arsenal and Liverpool before drawing against a misfiring Wolves – Forest on the other hand have lost against both Manchester City and Tottenham since a late equaliser stopped them from beating Everton at Goodison Park.
This fixture presents an opportunity for both sides to kick-start their seasons, after difficult starts to the campaign has seen them both nestled just outside the relegation zone. After changing formations midweek to opt for a more conservative approach against the Premier League champions, Steve Cooper will likely return to his usual 3-4-1-2 formation, or at least a more attacking variation. Morgan Gibbs-White had made a great start to life in the Garibaldi, having played just 177 minutes for Steve Cooper’s side, his attacking output and his ability on the ball his added an extra layer to this Forest attack and could be key in helping the Reds find their form in front of goal.
Last time these two met – what seems like a lifetime ago – Bournemouth completely outplayed Forest and picked up three points which secured their promotion back to the Premier League. This was back in April however, and a lot has changed since then both off and on the pitch. Forest are now the better side on paper and having watched their performances so far this season you could argue they are better on the pitch as well.
This season, Bournemouth have switched frequently between formations and are yet to establish much of an identity playing in the top-flight. Parker rotated between three-and-four at the back, one-or-two forwards and was never settled on who would man his midfield – with so many heavy defeats causing their former manager to rotate frequently. In his first game as interim coach, Gary O’Neil opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dominic Solanke leading the line following his return to fitness.
We’ve seen Forest play well at home so far this season, looking to take the game to the opposition and use the home fans to intimidate opposing players. Against West Ham, they were rather lucky to get all three points, but against Spurs, they were unfortunate that the game ended with it’s one-sided score-line. Cooper will want his side to bounce back after a humbling defeat midweek and it’s likely they will go all guns blazing against a Bournemouth side they will fancy themselves against.
Nottingham Forest seems to have a different player turn-up every game, even if they ended up losing by six goals. This week however I think Morgan Gibbs-White is going to be the key player for the home side. The £25m man looked good against Spurs and Everton and against easier opposition in the form of Bournemouth it gives him a perfect opportunity to have his break-out game.
Against Spurs, Morgan was excellent at picking the ball up and progressing forward and always looked to create an opportunity when in the opponent’s half. He fired an effort just over the bar against the London side and if he can find himself in similar positions against the Cherries you’ll fancy him to convert.
It will still be interesting to see how Gibbs-White will be deployed on Saturday – assuming he starts. Against Manchester City he was used in a front-two alongside Brennan Johnson, he can also be played as a sole number-10, but Cooper will probably get the best out of him when used as just behind the striker alongside another attacker – similar to how he was used against Spurs. Gibbs-White and Jesse Lingard both impressed last Sunday and should both be in-line to start this weekend.
Similar to Forest, Bournemouth haven’t been great in front of goal. They’ve now gone 370 minutes of Premier League football without finding the back of the net – with both goals coming in their opening fixture against Aston Villa. It’s made for some bleak viewing so far, but the return of Solanke instantly improves Bournemouth’s attacking threat.
Solanke was unstoppable for the Cherries last season, scoring 29 goals in the Championship – a returned only bettered by Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. Even though Bournemouth remained goal-shy against Wolves in midweek, Solanke came closest to finding the scoresheet but his powerful header was straight at Jose Sa,
After seeing the manner of which Mitrovic has adapted to the top-flight, Solanke will be full of confidence that he can do the same and there is no better opportunity for him to get off the mark than fellow promoted side Nottingham Forest.
Nottingham Forest predicted XI vs Bournemouth: Henderson, Williams, Worrall, Cook, Mckenna, Lodi, Yates, O’Brien, Gibbs-White, Lingard, Johnson.
Bournemouth predicted XI vs Nottingham Forest: Neto, Smith, Mepham, Kelly, Zemura, Pearson, Lerma, Tavernier, Billing, Christie, Solanke.