The City Ground, Sunday 5th October 2014, 3pm kick off
Form(Last 8 Championship games)
Nottingham Forest: DDDWDWWW
Ipswich Town: DWWWWDLD
- Nottingham Forest have now gone three games without scoring in scrappy games, meanwhile Ipswich are without a defeat in six, with four wins in that period.
- The previous meeting, last season, between the two looked like being a decider for the final Play Off spot, with both teams in prime positions. However, the 1-1 draw didn’t have any influence on the final table, with both teams enduring difficult conclusions.
- The Reds have been in imperious form in Nottingham, picking up 11 points from a possible 15. The Tractor Boys have enjoyed similar success on the road, gaining two-thirds of their points away from Portman Road.
The past week has been the most difficult for Forest in Stuart Pearce’s reign at the Club, seemingly losing their Midas Touch in front of goal. Failing to find the back of the net in three matches, the Reds have had to rely on their stubborn defence to grind out 0-0 results. This defence, consisting of Eric Lichaj, Kelvin Wilson, Michael Mancienne and Jack Hunt has combined into the Championship’s tightest back line; accumulating three consecutive clean-sheets. Despite this outstanding defensive record, Forest will be hoping their strikers can restart firing on all cylinders.
Sunday’s game sees Matty Fryatt’s return to action in a red shirt; an exciting prospect for Forest fans, who will be hoping to witness a return to the 4-4-2 formation. Fryatt’s comeback should take the pressure off Britt Assombalonga’s shoulders, who has had to carry Forest’s heavy scoring burden, leading the League’s scoring charts with 8 goals. Although supported by Michail Antonio, the ex-Posh striker will be looking forward to working in tandem with Fryatt; a deadly partnership in the making.
The draws to Millwall, Brighton and Wigan will have knocked the confidence of Forest, but they will have in the back of their minds that a win, after Saturday’s results, will send them top once again. Most managers try and deflect this kind of pressure, but Pearce has, quite openly, claimed that he keeps an eye on the table, and wants to set an early, high benchmark for the coming season. The Midlanders are still missing their key midfield link, in the form of Andy Reid. Once he’s back fit and firing, Forest should look an even more intimidating prospect to opposition teams.
It has been a more than satisfying start for Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, who lie in 8th place with a game in hand; a substantial win could even take them to the summit of the Championship. The mood remains high at Portman Road, despite being held to a 1-1 stalemate at Hillsborough last time out. This was preceded by four consecutive League wins, conceding just one goal in that spell; The Tractor Boys’ success so far this campaign has also been built from the back, with the likes of Christophe Berra and former Forest captain, Luke Chambers at the heart of their defence.
A key feature in their fast start has been the retention of star striker, David McGoldrick, although he hasn’t yet set the Championship alight in the first ten games, this was a huge statement of intent from Ipswich, who reportedly turned down an £8m bid from Leicester for the ex-Forest flop. He will, without doubt, be an integral part of the Blues’ promotion challenge this season, and will have to put in a big shift tomorrow if his side wish to leave the City Ground with all three points.
It has taken a couple of years to take effect, but Mick McCarthy’s influence seems to finally be installing itself in the Club, and this may be the season where it all clicks. With proven Championship talent flooding their side, it would be a surprise if the East-Anglians weren’t in the end of season promotion shake up. The partnership of McGoldrick and top scorer, Daryl Murphy will surely be vital in Ipswich’s fortunes; if they can hit form and stay well clear of injury, Ipswich could become of force to be reckoned with.
Can Forest break their scoring duck to return to the pinnacle of the Championship? Or will Forest old boys return to the City Ground to ruin the Reds’ unbeaten start, and put themselves amongst the early contenders? I expect a close, cautious game with it going 1-0 either way, if I were to stick my neck out I’d say Ipswich will nick it.