Last time these two teams met, their situations were completely different, yet so similar. Both teams were struggling, rooted to the bottom of the table. On that day, Leicester ran away with it at the King Power Stadium as 4-0 victors, but the Foxes will not be playing the same Nottingham Forest side.
Form is a huge factor in determining which team will come out on top and that is in Forest’s favour. Since the Premier League returned from the World Cup break, Leicester have failed to win a league game, losing all three to Newcastle, Liverpool, and Fulham, only scoring once. Similarly, to Forest, the injuries have been piling up, arguably their most influential player James Maddison, who ran the show when these two last met in October will not be available. On top of Maddison, Leicester’s defensive options are short, long injuries to Jonny Evans, Ricardo Pereira and James Justin leaves them vulnerable at the back. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, who is quietly having a good season is also a doubt for the game, restricting the creativity of the Foxes midfield.
Forest are unbeaten in their last 7 home games, despite holding the worst away record in the Premier League. The reds are turning the City Ground into a fortress and grinding out results at home, no matter the opposition. Victories over Liverpool and Tottenham, as well as a draw against Chelsea, which could have easily gone in Forest’s favour show that the atmosphere and the hostile environment the City Ground creates can cause problems for even the best teams in the league.
Steve Cooper seems to have found his best eleven, with Gustavo Scarpa and Taiwo Awoniyi rotating in one of the three forward positions. Willy Boly has been a revelation since nailing his place in the first eleven, but an ankle injury will likely sideline him for Saturday’s game. This is a huge conundrum for Cooper, as Boly and Joe Worrall had been forming a formidable partnership. The obvious alternative is Scott Mckenna, who replaced Boly in the Carabao Cup win over Wolves. Mckenna has found life in the Premier League difficult, finding inconsistent form, it usually depends game to game, which Scott Mckenna you get. His last outing against Blackpool did not cover him in glory, but neither did it give any praise to Forest’s other Centre-Back deputy Steve Cook. Mckenna and Worrall have not started together in a back four this season, with the partnership of Cook and Mckenna being favoured in the earlier stages of the campaign. This will be Cooper’s biggest decision for Saturday’s clash, without Boly and a return for Niakhate being too soon, the worry will be that their will not be enough mobility and that Leicester will find joy with a simple ball over the top of the Forest backline, pinning Full-Backs Aurier and Lodi to a deeper defensive position, in order to sweep and cover for their Centre-Backs.
Overall, this game will have all the feel of a huge derby clash, Forest fans are hungry for more success and are going from strength to strength, the atmosphere will be deafening, meaning Leicester cannot afford to have a slow start. The Foxes do possess quality and will rely on the likes of Tielemans and Barnes to try and forge chances for either Vardy or Daka. Awoniyi, who has been impressive this season, looks still to be ruled out with a muscle injury, leaving Gustavo Scarpa in line to make another start, the eyes will be on him after a few exciting performances in a red shirt so far, can he open his account or will Morgan Gibbs-White silence the away fans once again?
Nottingham Forest: Henderson, Aurier, Worrall, McKenna, Lodi, Mangala, Freuler, Yates, Scarpa, Gibbs-White, Johnson.
Leicester City: Ward, Castagne, Amartey, Faes, Thomas, Ndidi, Tielemans, Albrighton, Perez, Barnes, Vardy.
Score Prediction: 1-1.
*Article provided by James Bird (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Brennan Johnson celebrates in last seasons 4-0 cup victory at the City Ground.