Nottingham Forest continue their rise up the Premier League table, after convincingly beating East-Midlands rivals Leicester City in a game which included a Brennan Johnson brace.
Coming into the match, Forest were in a great mindset after beating Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. Steve Cooper is a man who has shown that his team thrives on confidence, and so the team saw only one change, with the injured Willy Boly being replaced by Scott McKenna.
Leicester arrived at the City Ground in a terrible run of form, without a Premier League win since November when they beat West Ham United, followed by 4 consecutive losses. With Leicester fans growing more and more impatient with their manager, Brendan Rodgers was under immense pressure and Forest capitalised on their clear lack of confidence in this fixture.
The first half was a tight and scrappy affair, with both teams crafting few real chances. Harvey Barnes couldn’t convert a fantastic cross from 6 yards out perhaps the best of the opening 45, whilst Forest looked dangerous throughout the half.
The second half however was a different story and saw one-way traffic, with Forest dealing attack after attack, and on 56 minutes, Morgan Gibbs-White played a fantastic ball in for Brennan Johnson, who rounded the keeper and brushed home into the back of the net. Despite being initially flagged for offside, VAR overturned the decision and Forest had their lead.
A second goal was added with just six minutes remaining when an overhead kick clearance from Morgan Gibbs White inside his own area started a move, eventually finding himself back with the ball on the half way line, turning his marker and playing a sublime ‘outside of the boot’ pass to Johnson who, after one perfect touch, smashed the ball home to seal the victory.
Not just three huge points, there are many more positives to take from this game. Every player for Forest did their job and was immense, but Serge Aurier and Renan Lodi continue to impress as full backs. Gibbs-White, Brennan Johnson and new signing Gustavo Scarpa were linking up terrifically throughout, constantly causing problems and getting Forest fans off their feet. The reds now sit 13th in the Premier League and are now FIVE points clear of 18th place West Ham.
Forest are also preparing for some more January arrivals with Cooper reportedly after a new centre-back and striker. The next arrival is expected to be Brazilian defensive midfielder Danilo, who’s £18 million move from Palmeiras will likely be completed within the next few days.
However, taking a shine of the win slightly, it’s likely that Forest’s injury list may have grown larger, with Ryan Yates being substituted at half time as well as Dean Henderson struggling through the last five minutes of the game with what seemed to be some sort of muscle problem. Cooper was tight lipped about their status as always, but fans will be hoping their star keeper and midfield powerhouse will not be out for too long.
Next up for the Reds is a trip away to Bournemouth, a ground that will haunt many Forest fans after losing 1-0 there last season, leading Bournemouth to gaining automatic promotion. However, now lies a big chance for redemption against the out-of-form Cherries and Forest will arrive off the back of successive league wins for the first time this season.
*Article provided by Dylan Jackson (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Gustavo Scarpa in action as Forest are well beaten in Blackpool.