Forest Focus On Pipping Cherries

We all remember how this game played out in early September. Forest went 2-0 up at the City Ground, only to be left stunned by a rousing Bournemouth resurgence in the second half, which left Gary O’Neill’s side celebrating as 3-2 winners. A lot has changed since that day, the Cherries have won twice in the league since September, picking up nine points from thirteen matches. On the contrary, Forest have won four games, picking up sixteen points in the same thirteen matches. Yet, the Forest players will be seeking revenge and their fans just as much, we all remember the Championship game at the back end of last season too, in which a Kieffer Moore strike dashed Forest’s hopes of automatic promotion.

Team News:

Dean Henderson is out with a muscle injury until at least late February, a huge blow which is cushioned by the fact that he wouldn’t have been able to feature in the two leg Carabao Cup tie against Manchester United. Steve Cooper has confirmed that Wayne Hennessey will take his place at the Vitality Stadium, insisting that it has been “business as usual in terms of the preparation”. However, it’s bad news for Taiwo Awoniyi, who has been ruled out until early March with a groin injury, which is worse than first thought.

On a positive note, despite doubts, Ryan Yates is available for selection, a huge boost for Forest’s midfield options, which are looking strong after the addition of the exciting young Brazilian talent Danilo, who may be involved on Saturday afternoon. Cooper also hinted that Moussa Niakhate and Omar Richards will return to training in the next fortnight, both players have had a lengthy spell on the sideline and will be given a welcome return as Forest’s fixtures start to come thick and fast.

On the other hand, injuries have been devastating for Bournemouth who did sign a new player in Dango Outtara from Lorient on Thursday. Three of their key players, who masterminded their 3-2 comeback at the City Ground in September will be missing. Goal threat Dominic Solanke is still out with a knee injury, their top assist maker Marcus Tavernier is nursing a hamstring strain and midfield stalwart Lewis Cook suffered a knee injury against Brentford last Saturday. Many Forest fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of getting points out of this fixture, the bookies have remained down the middle, giving both teams the same odds to get the win. I would suspect this is largely down to Forest’s woeful away form this season, that has only returned one victory, all be it in their last match on the road, against Southampton.

Nottingham Forest were impressive against Leicester, Morgan Gibbs-White’s performance was particularly notable, whilst grabbing two assists, he completed the most dribbles and created the most chances in the match. Every time he touched ball, he looked dangerous. This will be key when Forest are on the counter-attack or in transition, Bournemouth like to play and like to get on the ball, they will fancy their chances at breaking down the Reds defence, so the passing ability of Gibbs-White and Scarpa will be key in creating opportunities for Brennan Johnson on the counter-attack. The Cherries concede the most goals per match in the division with 2.2 and also have the lowest Expected Goals (xG) this season with 14, just for comparison Forest are 15th with 21.

An avenue of success for Bournemouth this season has been set pieces, the height of Phillip Billing, Kieffer Moore and Chris Mepham will be a huge task for McKenna and Worrall, who will have to be switched on and disciplined. Bournemouth rank 13th for most crosses put into the box and have scored the 7th most headed goals this season. Renan Lodi and Serge Aurier cannot underestimate the delivery of Jaidon Anthony and Ryan Christie, with both Billing and Moore huge presences in the box.

In conclusion, I expect Forest to get something from this game, they have all the momentum and have been playing brilliant attacking football. Both teams have awful goalscoring records, but even worse defensive records, this has the recipe for fireworks. Do not underestimate Bournemouth because of their poor form, they’re at home and haven’t lost to Forest in their last five meetings. Whilst I mentioned the prospect of fireworks, I believe it will be a cagey game, that will most likely be decided by a moment of individual quality, or a scrappy set piece.

Probable Line-Ups:

Bournemouth: Neto, Stacey, Mepham, Senesi, Kelly, Christie, Lerma, Pearson, Anthony, Billing, Moore.

Nottingham Forest: Hennessey, Aurier, Worrall, McKenna, Lodi, Yates, Freuler, Mangala, Scarpa, Gibbs-White, Johnson.

Score Prediction: 0-1

*Article provided by James Bird (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).

*Main image @afcbournemouth Forest have often struggled in recent seasons against the Cherries at the Vitality.

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