Fulham v Forest; A Vital Match Preview
Saturday, 3rd February, 2018.
Aitor Karanka`s Nottingham Forest Take On Slavisa Jokanovic`s Fulham At Craven Cottage In This Weekend`s Championship Clash.
Aitor Karanka was eerily calm after a woeful City Ground display on Tuesday, but was perhaps mindful that a ruthless cull was to follow. That defeat to Preston was clearly still in his mind at Thursday`s pre match press conference:
'You can imagine, after how I felt last Tuesday and that we were looking for a reaction from the Hull defeat, now I am expecting a good reaction. The players know that they can't sleep as there is not just another 11 players ready to play, but more who are crazy to play. I hope that the attitude is good, at least, from all of them then on Saturday we will start to build everything. I was embarrassed about what happened on Tuesday and I understood the fans that left. Now, I think the fans realise we are going in the right direction. It is not going to be easy, this is a tough league but we have to build the squad and the foundations to be successful.
Fulham are one of the best teams in the league, with Slavisa Jokanovic, they have a very good manager who knows the league - so, it will be a tough game but I don't care about them or any opponents. It is about us, and for us to grow and we have to keep working and start with a winning mentality. We need to go into the games thinking we can beat anybody; if we can beat Arsenal, if we can beat Wolves 10 days ago, then it will help us.'
Fulham Team News:
With very few injuries, other than slight doubts surrounding Tom Cairney (knee) and Floyd Ayite (calf), Slavisa Jokanovic will need to decide whether to hand debuts to his deadline day signings - Cyrus Christie and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Given their recent form, you would imagine he would stick with the team that beat Barnsley 3-1 last weekend and perhaps, leave them content with a place in the 18?
Player to watch: Ryan Sessegnon
The 17 year old is listed as a left back/left winger and surely has to be one of the hottest prospects in the Championship - with 11 goals in 32 appearances so far this season.
Pacy, confident, skillful and full of tricks - Sessegnon has bagged a brace in each of his last 2 games - so Forest`s right hand side, step up Eric, will have to try and nullify that threat - although, Fulham have plenty more!
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Following a dramatic deadline day at Nottingham Forest, with 7 confirmed departures - it easier to start with the certainties - Jack Hobbs and Chris Cohen remain absent with injury, with the latter now named as joint under 23 manager.
Daryl Murphy is back in training and could well feature for the first time under Aitor Karanka, whilst Liam Bridcutt is likely to return to the starting 11 after completing his 2 match ban.
As it stands, Forest are yet to announce whether Ben Watson has joined on a free transfer, but they did sign Costel Pantilimon, Jack Colback, Ashkan Dejagah, Adlene Guedioura, Lee Tomlin, Joe Lolley and Tobias Figueiredo. Given that the players have had little time to get to know their team mates and with some lacking match fitness - it is unlikely that all will feature.
Player to watch: Liam Bridcutt
In a season of abject mediocrity (so far), Bridcutt is certainly one of the positives. The 28 year old joined Forest from Leeds in August and certainly added much needed bite to the midfield, evidenced by collecting 10 yellows in 22 appearances.
Liam has yet to score for Forest and must be happy with the strengthening made to Forest`s often over-run centre of the park. A clean sheet (a la Wolves) would be nice!
Match Facts & Stats
Fulham are one of the Championship`s form teams and despite a shaky start a run of 7 games without defeat, 6 of those wins has seen them climb into 6th position, with 48 points from 29 games, scoring 49 and conceding 35.
The Cottagers are undefeated at home since 31st October, with play off contenders Bristol City the victors that day.
The Reds sit 15th in the Championship with 35 points from 29 games (w11, d2, l16), scoring 35 but conceding 46, including 3 in a woeful 0-3 home defeat to Preston that clearly motivated Mr Karanka to make wholesale changes to his squad.
Forest have just 1 league win in their last 8 games and have failed to score in 5 of those - although, they managed a run of 3 without defeat away from home.
Tim Robinson has been appointed as Tuesday`s Referee, which will be his 33rd game as the man in the middle this season, the previous 32 have seen him award 109 yellow and 9 red cards. Last season he officiated 44 games, brandishing 185 yellows and 9 red cards.
Mr Robinson will be assisted by Andrew Fox and Robert Hyde, with James Linington as the Fourth Official.
Former Forest man, David Prutton, has this down as a 2-0 home win, with 'The Bookies` also having Fulham odds on for a home win.
Whilst Aitor Karanka & his team performed heroics on deadline day, it is unlikely that so many new players will gel sufficiently to gain Forest anything from this match - a point would be a real bonus, but a comfortable home win seems most likely.
Forest welcome Nigel Adkin`s Hull City Trentside on Saturday, 10th February KO 3-00pm.