The City Ground, Saturday 8th November, 3pm kick off
Form (last 8 Championship matches):
Nottingham Forest: LLLDLDDD
Norwich City: LWDDLDLW
- Nottingham Forest’s season is teetering on the edge of collapse, no win in nine league games has seen the Reds fall from top to eleventh. Norwich haven’t fared much better, securing just two victories in eight games.
- The previous meeting of these two sides saw Norwich claim a 2-1 win, with Grant Holt claiming the winner for the East-Anglicans.
- A end to Forest’s win drought could see them climb to ninth in the Championship, whilst a Norwich success could launch them back into the automatic promotion mix-up.
Forest’s recent fall from grace has been spectacular, no win since September has seen Stuart Pearce’s men plummet down towards mid table. Devoid of confidence, steel and flair, the Reds cannot afford to continue dropping points. Brentford’s visit to the City Ground saw Forest produce a passionless display; the first sixty minutes was the worst we have seen from them since, arguably, their 5-0 thrashing at Derby last campaign. Each opportunity for Brentford was followed by another, a complete lack of backbone was shown in a performance which over 20,000 Forest fans had the displeasure of witnessing. The support will always be there for Forest; the players must utilise that in a positive way.
The inquests into the problems have begun around the City Ground, fans have even started to question Pearce’s tactics and selection. His decision to drop top scorer, Britt Assombalonga will have raised more than a few eyebrows, for example. Against Brentford, Pearce chose to play a 4-1-4-1 formation with Michael Mancienne shielding the back four and Michail Antonio the lone striker. Despite this experiment, the team still failed to remain strong in defence, conceding three goals once again. A solid base defensively must be built in order to win games consistently, this isn’t easy when players such as Jamaal Lascelles and Kelvin Wilson are so desperately out of form.
So where now for the Reds? It sounds simple, but a win could solve much of what is wrong with the team currently. Confidence is such a huge factor in football, a victory could inject the boost the Reds players need to regain that belief they possessed during their unbeaten start. However, the longer this run without success continues, the more pressure gets launched upon the Club which makes three points on Saturday an absolute necessity.
The 2013/14 campaign was a troublesome and tiring one for Norwich, dull football, big money flops and an indecisive board proved to be too much for them in the Premier League. Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper were both bought to solve the goal shortage at the Club, but neither delivered. Furthermore, the decision to relieve Chris Hughton from his position came far too late, Neil Adams couldn’t provide the impact required to save them from the clutches of the Championship. He will be relishing the chance to stamp his authority onto the Club and breathe new life into their ambitions.
The Norfolk club’s season has been much like Forest’s; a fast start spreading excitement throughout the Club, and a dip, leading to disappointment. Adams’ men already had the weight of expectation thrust upon them following relegation from the Premier League, they retained much of their squad and acquired quality, such as Lewis Grabban and Cameron Jerome in the forward positions. Grabban and Jerome between them have scored fourteen of the Canaries’ twenty-four League goals this season. Many teams whom drop from the top tier into the Championship take time to settle, and there is still a long, long way to go for them to claw back the small gap which has arisen in the last few weeks.
Norwich endured a disastrous trip up to Middlesbrough this midweek, suffering a 4-0 loss after an encouraging win last week against Bolton. A defeat at the home of promotion rivals is never easy to take, but the manner of it will have worried Adams. The player should be geared up and raring to go in the big games; they should relish the challenge. Therefore, to have been swept aside so easily is displeasing to say the least. The win last week over Bolton did end a concerning slide, but if performances like Tuesday’s continue, serious questions will be asked.
Can Forest lay to rest the last month and a half’s disaster and dispose of Norwich? Or will the Canaries break the Reds’ weak resistance to climb back amongst the promotion contenders? I can see a high scoring game on the horizon here, I believe both teams will go for the jugular to win with Norwich coming out on top. 3-2 to the Canaries.