Date:Monday February 15 2010
The City Ground
Things have gone wrong lately, the unbeaten away tag has been ripped apart with 4 consecutive 1 - 0 away defeats in all competitions that have seen Forest knocked out of the FA Cup & slip down into 3rd place in the league. All is not lost though with Forest having excellent home form at the moment & the visiting blades being one of the poorer away sides in the top half of the Championship table. To put into context the difference in form for this fixture, Forest have won all the last 7 home games & 10 of the last 11 home league games conceding just 5 goals & scoring a whopping 28 while the blades have lost all of the last 4 away games, won just 2 of their last 12 away league games scoring 14 goals but conceding a whopping 26. This game really should be a miss match, although I'm not quite sure whether I'm trying to convince you of this, or myself.
There are twists & turns to come yet
There are no new injury problems for the reds but Gareth McCleary will miss the game after being red carded in the away defeat to Doncaster. With just 15 games remaining spread over 11 weeks this season & a 4 point gap between Forest & the top two, now could be the time for the strongest 11 to start every game & simply go for a win in every game.
After being dropped for the last two games & Forest failing to score in either, Robbie must be due a recall to the starting line up & with 10 goals in 20 games this season (9 of those games as sub) you'd be a brave man to bet against him getting on the score sheet.
Mark Bunn returned to action last weekend after a hand injury and is expected to keep his place after keeping a clean sheet, James Harper is set to miss out again with an ankle problem & defensive stalwart Chris Morgan (ribs) will also not feature. Gary Naysmith looks like missing the rest of the season.
The Blades leading goal scorer has 11 goals in 24 games so far this season.
This game will bring up century of league games between these two rivals & over history they have been very closely matched. Forest have taken 39 wins, the blades 35 & a further 26 draws in the previous 99 games. Forest also have the slight edge on goals scored with 149 of the 276 this fixture has produced. Goals in this fixture have been fairly hard to come by in recent years.
The blades have struggled on their travels of late having lost all the last 4 away fixtures & no wins in 5. They have also failed to win any midweek away game this season in 6 attempts & failed to beat any of the current top 6 teams & lost all their away games against those teams, the signs for this game are good.
In stark contrast to that, Forest have won their last 7 consecutive home games, have only lost one midweek game at home & haven't failed to score at home since September.
Shockingly, the blades are the dirtiest team in the Championship having committed over 400 fouls (50 more than the second dirtiest team) & have.
Nigel Miller of Co. Durham will take charge of this game, he last took charge of a Forest game when he sent off Guy Moussi for over celebration a last minute winner against Barnsley. He'll be assisted by Russell Fletcher of Derbyshire and Robert Roberts ( bet he loves his parents) of Lancashire Fourth Official Guy Stretton of Leicestershire
Anything could happen in this game, Forest home form combined with the blades away form makes a comfortable home win the most likely outcome here, but Forest have wobbled lately & the blades are just outside the play off places so an upset is certainly possible, I'm going to cling to the Forest home form though & go with a 3 - 1 Forest win.
Saturday, 20 February 15:00
The Football League Championship
Nottm Forest v Middlesbrough
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Date:Monday February 15 2010
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