Forest v Villa; A Vital Match Preview
The City Ground
Saturday, 13th January, 2018.
Airor Karanka`s Nottingham Forest welcome Steve Bruce`s Aston Villa Trentside For This Evening`s Championship Clash.
Having only arrived Trentside on Wednesday, Forest`s new Manager, Aitor Karanka, wasted no time before giving his first pre-match Press Conference:
'I think this is the only country where you will find two former European Cup winners playing against each other in the second tier. It is a big game against a big team but it is our first step, where I would like to get my first win.
The result on Sunday was fantastic and can be used to build momentum but you also have to be wary that they don't think because they beat Arsenal that they can just turn up and beat Aston Villa. The players will have to fight with the same intensity as they did on Sunday, because they are a good team.
I will need to get to know the players more but the main thing is all about the attitude on the pitch. With the right attitude they beat Arsenal and if we play with that attitude then we will do well.'
Nottingham Forest Team News:
With just 2 days to assess the players at Forest, it`s unlikely that Aitor will make that many changes from the side that Gary Brazil has named in the previous 2 games.
Tendayi Darikwa, Jack Hobbs and Chris Cohen are all still sidelined, whilst Danny Murphy and Liam Bridcutt are both regarded as doubtful with back and ankle injuries respectively. Joe Worrall will also miss out due to a 1 game suspension after collecting 2 yellow cards in the victory over Arsenal - Forest`s first red card this season!
Matt Mills is likely to start in Joe`s absence, whilst Barrie McKay or perhaps, Muzzy Carayol could replace of Zach Clough.
Player to watch: Eric Lichaj
After his goal scoring heroics against Arsenal, the 29 year old American International full back has been rewarded with a new contract at Forest and a new dog called Gunner, from his wife, Kathryn.
Having originally joined Forest on a free transfer, from Villa, in June 2013 it would be fantastic if Eric can replicate his Cup exploits against his former club, but he faces a stern test with in form Albert Adomah putting his defensive skills to the test.
Aston Villa Team News:
Steve Bruce has stated that his skipper, John Terry, is a doubt after 'rolling his ankle` in training, whilst Jonathan Kodjia and Chris Samba will not make the trip to Nottingham.
Gabby Agbonlahor and Scott Hogan are both also regarded as doubtful, both with ankle injuries although, former Red, Henri Lansbury and Andre Green are expected to be involved in the match day squad.
Player to watch: Albert Adomah
The 30 year old Ghanaian International will be well known to Aitor Kanaraka from his time at Boro, where he featured regularly before joining Villa for an undisclosed fee in August 2016.
The winger has 12 goals in 24 appearances this season, including the first in the 2-1 victory at Villa Park - so Forest`s defence will certainly need to be mindful of the threat he poses.
Match Facts & Stats
After earning a valuable point at Elland Road, Forest are 14th in the Championship (w10, d2, l14) with 32 points from their 26 games. With little time to work with his players, Aitor Karanka`s primary focus will be on a defence that has already conceded 42 goals - although, Forest have not scored in their last 3 league games and have just 1 league win in their last 6 games - 2 draws and 3 defeats (including their last 2 home games) make up the sequence.
Excluding their shock FA Cup defeat at home against Peterborough last weekend, Villa had started to show a return for the vast sums spent (w2, d2, l2 in the last 6 games) - earning them 5th position in the table with 44 points from 26 games (w12, d8, l6). The Villans have scored 38 but conceded just 24 - winning their last 2 games without conceding a goal, but scoring 6 in the process.
James Linington has been appointed as the Match Referee, which will be his 28th game in charge this season, the previous 27 have seen 90 yellow and 5 red cards. Last season officiated 35 games, which saw him award 146 yellows and 4 red cards.
Mr Linington, will be ably assisted by Neil Davies and Robert Merchant, with Mark Heywood as the Fourth Official.
The Bookies have Villa down as the favourites for an away win, perhaps understandably based upon their recent league form when compared to that of their hosts - but, if Forest can reproduce the effort they showed against Arsenal then this could well be a treat for the Sky TV viewers.
It`s rare to see a 0-0 involving Forest, so let`s hope the Karanka can install some defensive resolve and equally that the league goal drought comes to an end (1-1?).
Forest take a trip to Molineux to face runaway League Leaders Wolves on Saturday 20th January, KO 3-00pm.