City Ground, Saturday 27th September, kick off 3pm
Nottingham Forest form: DWDWW
Brighton form: DLLDW
- Nottingham Forest are still unbeaten in the Championship so far this season, despite their disappointing showing last week at Millwall. Meanwhile, Brighton have struggled to recover from their play-off heartbreak last campaign, winning just 2 from their first 8 League matches.
- This fixture marked the end of last season and proved to be a joyous occasion for the Seagulls, with Leonardo Ulloa clinching a last minute winner to extend their season by a few weeks in the play-offs.
- The Reds are in search of their 4th win in 5 home games, whilst Brighton are looking to end a 4 game winless run which has left them 18th in the Championship.
Forest had their unbeaten run in all competitions ended this midweek against Spurs but put on a good show for the travelling faithful. Stuart Pearce fielded a weakened team for the clash at White Hart Lane; making his intentions for this season perfectly clear. Despite the understrength eleven, the Reds certainly didn’t embarrass themselves, losing 3-1 after leading early in the second half. Among the positives for Forest was youngster, Ben Osborn’s performance, with quick feet and good ball retention he didn’t look out of place against his Premier League opponents.
Last weekend, the men from Trentside had another challenging away day, this time at Millwall. The game was a drab disappointment leaving neither side’s fans particularly inspired. Chances were at a premium and both teams would agree that a draw was a fair result. However, Forest seem to have got into a habit of not losing games, it sounds simple, but these are the sort of affairs that the Reds would’ve left empty handed from a year ago. Goalkeeper, Karl Darlow has been integral in this stubborn defence, gaining Forest points single-handedly already this campaign. Every away day, the on-loan ‘keeper from Newcastle has made vital saves at crucial moments in games, helping propel the Reds to the summit of the Championship.
Saturday’s game will be a test of Pearce’s side’s temperament; not becoming complacent will be key in this one, something which we saw last Wednesday against Fulham. The Midlanders will have to cope without some key men, but still have quality waiting in the wings. We have, so far, seen very little from experienced campaigners, Kelvin Wilson and David Vaughan, after their lengthy spells on the treatment table. This season’s squad possesses a greater depth and quality than last’s, making injuries to key players such as Cohen and Reid slightly less damaging.
Having experienced some real highs in the last three years since their promotion to the second tier, Brighton have been plunged into a worrying situation as they embark on another new regime under Sami Hyypia. It’s never easy following a successful manager at a club, but succeeding two must be a nightmare, as Hyypia is finding out in the early stages of his stint at Brighton. Great work was done by both Gus Poyet and Oscar Garcia before their departures, but the last season Play Off Semi-Finalists have struggled to pick up points in the opening stages of the season.
Brighton will be concerned with the blatant lack of goals in the team since Leonardo Ulloa has left the club, having failed to score in half of their encounters so far. The Argentine goalscoring ace was snapped up by Leicester in the summer after an £8m deal, despite this hefty fee, the Seagulls have struggled to bring in the required quality in the forward positions. A dull 0-0 draw against hapless Blackpool illustrated this last weekend; the Seagulls can’t buy a win at the minute. In midweek they did manage to put 3 past League 2 Burton, but this will have hardly appeased the doubters to the new regime.
Amongst a busy summer for Brighton, there were both 10 incomings, and outgoings, so there’s always got to be a gelling period. However, the loss of creativity through Will Buckley and Andrea Orlandi has ripped the heart out of the Seasgull’s midfield, this coinciding with Sam Baldock’s slow start, has been a recipe for disaster. The club will be relying on Baldock after his big money move from Bristol City in August, who had a unsuccessful spell in the Championship with West Ham, albeit with limited chances. Despite all of the negativity, the Championship is one of the most unpredictable Leagues in world football and situations change in a matter of weeks; hopefully for Brighton fans, they will be able to look back at what I’ve written in a few months and laugh.
Will Forest be able to overcome complacency to stretch their stay at the pinnacle of the Championship? Or can Brighton upset the form books, like we’ve seen so often before, and be the first team to leave the City Ground with all 3 points this season? Personally, I think on form and quality Forest should walk this, therefore, I predict a 3-0 Forest win.