Nottingham Forest find themselves in desperate need of a vital win against Aston Villa to put an end to their miserable run of form.
Forest find themselves winless in six games since a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at the start of September.
In those games, they’ve faced Champions, City and a Liverpool side on top form, succumbing to 2-0 and 3-0 defeats, respectively.
Despite this, Forest have dropped points against a Burnley side looking to edge out manager Vincent Kompany, a lacklustre Brentford, a Crystal Palace side lacking star man, Eze and everybody’s nailed on favourites to break Derby County’s miserable record of 11 points in a league season, Luton Town.
It’s safe to say their run doesn’t get easier with testing ties with Villa, West Ham, Brighton and Everton coming up and if Forest aren’t careful they could end up being dragged into the relegation mix.
With the quality they possess, Forest should’ve been able to edge out a team like Luton, but as predicted previously, Luton’s determination and strong mentality which got them to the Premier League proved vital in recovering a draw from two down at the City Ground.
Taiwo Awoniyi remains a doubt for this game despite a cameo appearance against Liverpool, with the latest status update from manager Steve Cooper being that his selection could go either way and could miss out on yet another match with the nature of his complex injury being managed carefully.
Stand-in striker Chris Wood also remains out alongside Divock Origi, leaving Cooper in a mess with his attacking options, relying on the return of Callum Hudson-Odoi to give his side a much needed offensive boost.
Despite the injuries, it could only be a mater of time before pressure begins to mount on Steve Cooper as it did this time last year and it remains unclear if the board will remain as lenient a second time round.
Forest need points, and fast.
With Everton seeming to click and Bournemouth embarking on a more favourable run of results after a horror start to the season, not to mention Luton out to prove the doubters wrong, Forest could see themselves sucked into a dogfight.
Whilst not the end of the world just yet, with 10 points from 10 games seeing them on track for a total of 38 over the season, which would see them safe in years gone, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for a side packed with this much talent to falter, after all, look at Leicester just last season.
For Forest to stand any chance of victory, Awoniyi needs to be back fit and firing, still the club’s top goal scorer with three goals in eight games and only taking part in 57 per cent of available minutes.
Aston Villa are one of the form teams in the Premier League with Unai Emery’s side almost becoming THE team to beat, especially at Villa Park.
They’ve netted 11 goals in their last three competitive games so Forest’s defence needs to hold tight and the potential return of Danilo at the base of midfield might just be able to prevent Villa’s creative juices from flowing.
Villa are partial to conceding a goal, however, with no clean sheets in their last four games, which could stand Forest in good stead.
The Red’s have a poor recent record against Aston Villa, winning just once in their last 15 meetings, with Villa undefeated in their last nine PL matchups.
Since September 2022, only City and Liverpool boast fewer home defeats than Forest (one) with Cooper’s men victorious in eight and drawing nine, losing just twice.
Aston Villa sit fifth in the table, a far cry from Forest’s lowly 16th and are on course to match they club record for Premier League victories in a season if they can find a way to flourish at the City Ground.
It’s not going to be as straightforward as Aston Villa may like and boosted by the home crowds’ support, Forest have a chance at a point, maybe three if they play their cards right and keep players like Moussa Diaby and John McGinn quiet.
Still, whilst trying to be positive, it’s hard to look past anything but a Villa win, although (Especially as a supporter of Birmingham City) I hope it’s not the case.
Platform Predictions: Nottingham Forest 0-2 Aston Villa.