Last season was strange in many ways for Nottingham Forest. They seemed to want to sign every player available. Were ready to sack their manager only to turn around and give him a new deal. They were shocking on the road but quality at home. Most importantly though, they stayed in the Premier League. Can they do the same this season? Let’s take a look at the odds…
Last Season: 16h
Top Scorer: Taiwo Awoniyi (10)
Transfers In: Anthony Elanga – Man Utd, £17.5m, Chris Wood – Newcastle, £15m, Ola Aina – Torino, Free.
Transfers Out: Sam Sturridge – Nashville, £5.8m, Jack Colbeck – Free
First game: Arsenal (A)
One of the keys for a good season will be to successfully secure a quality goalkeeper. Dean Henderson came in on loan last year and looked the part before a thigh injury curtailed his campaign. Keylor Navas came in on loan and was able to keep up the good work between the sticks.
The prevailing thought was that Henderson would return to the City Ground in an full-time capacity but that deal seems to be stalling as of the time of writing, so Arsenal’s Matt Turner is now being linked. That deal would arguably be considered a slightly bigger risk but either way, Forest need to get some quality through the door in that position.
So far this summer only three players have joined, which is a stark contrast to a year ago. Chris Wood made his loan move permanent with Manchester United youngster Anthony Elanga the other new arrival with a transfer fee attached on the banks of the River Trent. Nigerian defender Ola Aina has also signed on a free from Torino.
Most pundits and fans know all about what Chris Wood offers. He won’t score many goals but will hold the ball up and give opposition defenders a tough game. There are more questions regarding Elanga, who has shown glimpses of real promise at Old Trafford but struggled to fully break into the starting XI and make an impact. If he turns into the player that many think he could, then this might well be an excellent signing.
Up front, other options include Nigerian Taiwo Awoniyi, who is the top Forest player in the Golden Boot market. The 25 year-old ended up with ten league goals to his name last season, which was a solid return for a player who had only bagged four by the end of April. His final four games however saw him hit the back of the net six times. Form like that will take him a long way.
Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White are also key men for Steve Cooper, although both are being linked with moves away from the City Ground to help alleviate their FFP situation. The latter in particular looked a really good addition to the side. Many questioned the fee when they agreed a £25million transfer for the then 22 year-old with a potential for £17million more in add-ons. With the benefit of hindsight however, that looks a really good bit of business and his form will go a long way to dictating Forest’s season.
Betfred have them priced up as the joint-fourth favourites for the drop alongside Burnley and Wolves at 11/4. I think they exceed expectations and finish in the lower-reaches of mid-table with a flirtation with relegation but never being truly in the mire. The City Ground is a tough place to go and strong home form along with a slight improvement on the road should see Forest be ok.