|Nottingham Forest 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 1st December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Another Five Against Ipswich on Saturday Please - Notes for Nottingham Forest
Friday, 30th Nov 2018 10:50 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday’s game at the City Ground by delving into their forums.
“Is it safe to come out yet?”, “Is everyone still alive? I’m shaking. That was agony”, “Jesus wept, I need a lie down. That was one hell of a game”, “That was the maddest game of football I have ever been to. My head is pounding”, “That was simply the best Forest performance in absolutely years.”
Forest head into Saturday’s game sixth in the table and ahead of rivals Derby on goal difference, but Reds are trying to settle their nerves after they stretched their unbeaten league run to six games on Wednesday night, coming from behind with 10 men to record a famous 5-5 draw at Villa Park.
“It’s not every week that you get to watch a 10-goal thriller”, “It was ridiculous, as good in parts as it was bad. There won’t be another game like that for 10 years. It’s best to see it as an example of how football should be, which is brilliant entertainment”, “There is no point trying to analyse that game.”
“Another Aitor Karanka bore-draw.” The result was all the more remarkable as it followed a run of five league games in which Forest had conceded just one goal. “Our strength is our defence, we rely on having moments of quality in the final third to turn that into points. We are in excellent form.”
“It’s heartening to see that we are steadily becoming something”, “We have still only lost two games all season. We are very hard to beat”, “It’s good to see the side developing real personality. After the softness of recent years, it’s a joy that we’re tough now and leave everything we have on the pitch.”
“We’re on our way, boys”, “Things are fitting together nicely”, “We are organised and professional, with the most evident team spirit I have seen in a long while”, “It has been a while since I have seen the club so happy and excited”, “Whatever happens this season, we have had something to enjoy.”
“Does anyone remember when Karanka came in and people howled about us being super defensive and to expect only 1-0 wins?”, “The manager has turned us into a real force in the league. Nobody wants to play us now”, “You can see the direction he is heading in, a solid team is taking shape.”
“The only manager who sets out to win every game 0-0.” The 45-year-old former Boro boss replaced Mark Warburton last January and rebuilt the squad during the summer. Fans have praised the steel, hard work and organisation he has instilled in the squad and can see improvements with each game.
“Credit to Karanka for building a good squad and managing them well. He’s playing the long game so well”, “He knows what he’s doing with team selections and he’s a mastermind in structuring a squad of players to perform over a season”, “I am proud of the mentality, fight and quality in the squad.”
“Karaka will have been fuming with our defending at Villa Park”, “He prefers us to keep a rigid shape and it’s working so well. He values security way more than creativity”, “For the first time in years it feels like we are truly competitive. If nothing else is achieved, I am proud to support Forest again.”
Organisation, Steel and a Sense of Progress
“Karanka looks to have found a settled team a few months earlier than I would have expected”, “Our balance is far better than when we were relying on a team of veterans earlier in the season”, “We’re seeing a natural progression from resolute football, to resolute football with real attacking intent.”
“Our possession is so high not because of us taking care of the ball, but because we win it back so well”, “We win the ball back all over the field, closing down so well that opponents can’t relax”, “I am chuffed with our players’ commitment. We look like we want to win and keep clean sheets.”
“I get the feeling that Karanka has found his best team at last.” The starting XI (above) at Villa Park was the same one that previously eased to a 2-0 win away to Hull. Karanka likes the balance of the 4-2-3-1 shape, built on a “the solidity of a rigid core of four defenders and two holding midfielders”.
“We have one of the stingiest defences in the league”, “Both full-backs look like decent performers going forward and back while the centre-backs are excellent in the air”, “When the two full-backs push forward so often I can see the reasoning behind playing two mainly defensive midfielders.”
With Tobias Figueiredo suspended after being sent off at Villa Park, Michael Dawson and Michael Hefele should start against us on Saturday. They are solid physical defenders with Dawson capable of hitting decent long passes from the back, while Hefele will occasionally charge out with the ball.
Right-back Tendayi Darikwa has added a more attacking dimension to his athletic style of play while Jack Robinson is a footballing left-back who is good in the air, although he did struggle against Villa’s Yannick Bolasie. Keeper Costel Pantilimon, despite his size, is criticised for not commanding his area.
“The combination of Jack Colback’s energy and Claudio ‘El Bastardo’ Yacob’s streetwise cunning is even better than I imagined. They win every ball back and it must be draining playing against them. One of them picks up every loose ball and every time a player cuts inside, they dispossess them.”
Forest’s strong defence has been built on the quality of Colback and Yacob’s protection, while they have been able to call on Adlene Guedioura’s passing if a more creative deep option is required. It will be interesting to see how they set up on Saturday, because Villa overran their midfield at times.
“We need to bring our midfield into the game more as Villa are walking through us”, “It was far too easy for Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane to play through us”, “Villa were just slicing through us at the end of the first half. They were given too much time in midfield, it was scary stuff.”
“Joe Lolley made four and scored one of the best goals I have ever seen at Villa Park.” Forest’s three danger men are left winger Lolley, playmaker Joao Carvalho and Lewis Grabban. Lolley is the second-highest scorer for Forest this season and is a constant threat with his dribbling and close ball control.
Of the three Portuguese arrivals this summer, Carvalho has adapted quickest to the Championship and the playmaker is seen as “a little magician”, using technique and vision to generate assists and unlock defences. Striker Lewis Grabban is a very effective finisher of half-chances around the box.
Before their five goals at Villa, fans felt that the final third was the area which needed most work. “I think we look solid but we’re clinically way off”, “There is still work to be done on the attacking side of our game. Players often choose the wrong pass when there is someone in acres of space.”
Aston Villa 5 – 5 Nottingham Forest
“Just got in. I’m torn between booking a therapy session and making a shrine to the single most brilliant football match I have ever attended. It was a privilege just to be there”, “I feel absolutely wrecked and all I have done this evening is sit on this settee, drink beer and watch Forest.”
Forest led 2-0 and 3-2 in the first half with Grabban, Carvalho and Cash's goals but Tammy Abraham scored a hat-trick, the final goal from the penalty spot, to keep Villa level at half-time. Lolley's long-range shot restored Forest’s lead before Figueiredo was sent off and Abraham struck again to level.
Villa then took the lead for the first time when Anwar El Ghazi curled in, but Grabban's near-post finish earned a remarkable late point for 10-man Forest, who scored from all five of their efforts on target. Reds were quick to praise the character of the side for equalising when down to 10 men.
“One hell of a game”, “A brilliant game of football. I’m so proud of this side for taking the game to Villa and not letting their heads drop when there was a setback. That team has heart”, “It was an exhausting yet thrilling game, I would have taken a point before kick-off, just not in that manner.”
Hull 0 – 2 Nottingham Forest
“A great win and another clean sheet away from home, well done boys”, “An away day masterclass, we were resolute and determined throughout and we slowly took over as space opened up after the break”, “We weren’t far off Hull’s current level that long ago. It’s crazy how quickly things change.”
Forest cruised to a comfortable win at the KCOM Stadium last Saturday. They dominated the first half without finding the net, but Grabban capitalised on a wayward clearance on 61 to put them in front. Lolley’s deflected shot three minutes later secured a win which typified their recent displays.
“That is a really strong starting line-up [above]. It’s great seeing a team like that in an away game”, “We won the ball all over the field, closing down so well that Hull couldn’t relax”, “Hull were very poor but it was a good busy professional team performance from us in the end”, “Hull will go down.”
Nottingham Forest 0 – 0 Stoke
“A tough game against a tough opponent. The football wasn’t pleasing to the eye but we matched Stoke’s toughness”, “Stoke controlled the game better and had longer spells in the match, but we created the better chances”, “If anything, we really were too respectful of Stoke in the first half.”
“One of the more interesting 0-0 draws I have seen.” Stoke keeper Jack Butland made a series of late saves after almost gifting Forest a goal in a lively game. Grabban fired wastefully over after the mix-up at the back. Figueiredo saved Forest clearing a Peter Crouch effort off the line right at the death.
“The game was how I imagined it would be, two decent sides who cancelled each other out and both struggling to create many chances”, “Stoke looked good in the first half mainly due to us sitting back. We put them to the sword after the break but all in all a point each was probably fair for both sides.”
The only difference in the starting XI (above) from the one which started the subsequent Aston Villa and Hull games was the inclusion of Guedioura for Yacob. “It’s nice to look at a Forest side and think ‘no weaknesses there’”, “We looked like we really wanted to win that game and keep a clean sheet.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“Costel Pantilimon was purpose-built by God to collect crosses on a football pitch but I find myself shutting my eyes when a cross comes in as I know he won’t even consider coming for it.” The 6ft 8in one-time Sunderland keeper “declines to take high balls and his kicking under pressure can be poor”.
Bradley Johnson (Derby County) v Costel Pantilimon
“Pantilimon isn’t confident enough to dominate his area or take control of situations”, “Staying on your line when there’s an aerial bombardment doesn’t help the defence”, “He’s trying to get attacks going with quick distribution, but he lacks the quality and we miss good chances on the counter.”
“Tendayi Darikwa was a concrete wall at right-back against Stoke.” The 26-year-old ex-Burnley man “has improved massively this season and is a real weapon in our attacking play”, “He commits when he should and holds back when he should. He’s physically a monster and hard to catch in full stride.”
“Darikwa has always had the physicality, the boy is an athlete, but he has now got his positioning and decision-making is better and he has developed an attacking threat. Some of his crosses are downright dangerous.” “He needs to work on his passing as he normally gives it to an opponent.”
“Jack Robinson is a ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ type of player.” The 25-year-old ex-QPR left-back “has a defender’s knack of being in the right place at the right time”, “He lost his cool and conceded a penalty at Villa Park”, “He had a torrid night and he did not enjoy playing against Yannick Bolasie.”
“Robinson is a proper defender. His positioning is good, he gets stuck in and always tries to use the ball instead of lumping it”, “He occasionally loses his man”, “He likes to get the ball at his feet and he definitely brings height and physicality to the position and possesses an aerial threat at set pieces”,
“Michael Hefele is a proper warrior who deals effectively with long balls and direct counter-attacks.” The 28-year-old German arrived from Huddersfield this summer. “He usually has a chin-to-chin with an opponent in every game. Nothing nasty, but he won’t take any messing”, “Don’t hassle ‘The Hef’.”
“’The Hef’ is a natural leader who is comfortable on the ball. He makes great runs out of defence”, “He struggles to keep up with his runners and he can expose us with his pack of pace”, “He’s a big imposing defender who cares about his team-mates”, “You can’t do anything but love this man.”
“It can’t be said enough how much our style suits Dawson. With the midfield protecting him, all his work is dealing with crosses and that’s what he’s a master at doing.” The 35-year-old returned from Hull this summer to the club where he started his career. “He has been such a rock in recent games.”
Michael Dawson (Hull)
“Watching Dawson at centre-back, I’m reminded of the calmness and unflappability of Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea”, “His passing is ridiculously good at times”, “Some if his long diagonal balls are quite superb”, “He’s dominant in the air but he gets beaten by pace when long balls come over the top.”
“Liam Bridcutt is decent in a sitting role but lacks the discipline to play up and down.” The 29-year-old one-time Brighton and Leeds man “is very robust. He tackles well and tries to get the game going, but loses aerial battles and gives away fouls in dangerous areas. He lets opponents in on goal switching off.”
Liam Bridcutt (Leeds)
“Ben Watson has a calm passing game and tactical acumen but lacks attacking skills.” The 33-year-old one-time Wigan man “is a solid player, but he can’t follow the speed of transition or creativity required by Karanka’s style of play”, “He gets flustered by teams who press and his passing is poor,”
“We missed Adlene Guedioura’s passing against Hull.” The 33-year-old former Boro man “drives us forward and get us moving up the pitch”, “He’s an energetic pivot player who can find spaces, push players off the ball and carry counter-attacks. His game needs an intensity which isn’t always there.”
“Guedioura gives us momentum and drive but there are games when his touch is off and it just does not work”, “When teams sit back a bit more, you want him running forward with the ball and playing in a few more direct passes”, “He gives us an ability to turn defence into attack from deep midfield.”
Adlène Guedioura (Middlesbrough)
“Claudio Yacob is the Roy Keane imitation I have wanted us to have.” The 31-year-old former Racing Club and West Brom man “brings an Argentine skulduggery, which is three times the normal level”, “He gives us a backbone and ensures we’re not bullied, but the key word to describe him is ‘calm’.”
“The turnover of possession Yacob generates is incredible. He always seems to create that half yard of space for himself to play the ball out”, “He calms things down and gives us a platform from which we can attack”, “A classy player but a proper bastard, a man’s man with a football brain to match.”
“Joao Carvalho can be unplayable and he assists so many attacks.” The 21-year-old June signing from Benfica “has outstanding technical ability. He had a brilliant game at Hull but I will be surprised if he is given that much space again”, “He’s an absolute joy to watch. He sees things before they happen.”
“Carvalho is Houdini around the penalty area but is more like Paul Daniels playing further back. You want him in the position where he’s the pass before the shot. It’s a goalscoring opportunity waiting to happen”. “He uses his clever tricks and flicks to unlock defences instead of giving it a bit of welly.”
“Colback isn’t a creative, forward-thinking or box-to-box player.” The 29-year-old loan signing from Newcastle “is a pure holding midfielder who protects the back four. His positional discipline makes him perfect for Karanka’s style”, “He’s so good at closing space down and anticipates danger well.”
“Colback is a nightmare to play against although his passing is too safe and sideways.” The one-time Town loanee “is not ‘flash’ and won’t get into dangerous attacking positions quickly”, “He’s doesn’t move the ball forward quickly enough but he has been a major contributor to our tighter defence.”
Wingers and Wide Midfielders
“I like Matty Cash but he’s not a natural winger and it shows.” The 21-year-old youth product “is a little one-dimensional but he tries to make things happen”, “Moves break down around him and his end product is poor”, “He’s ineffective out wide because he doesn’t excel in quick-passing football.”
“Cash is not a natural wide player. He does a job out there because of his busy style of play”, “He still looks like a box-to-box midfielder to me”, “He goes down too easily every time he loses the ball after he has instigated contact. He an energetic player who lacks confidence and takes the easy way out.”
“Ben Osborn is a good versatile option to bring off the bench.” The 24-year-old youth product can play in a variety of left-sided roles but many Reds feel that his versatility counts against him. “He doesn’t stand out in any one area but there is no person as committed and hard-working as him.”
“Osborne is a dynamic player with a big heart and huge engine who links well with team-mates”, “On his day he’s a real asset. There are times when we miss his pressing and drive in midfield and he links well with Carvalho behind the striker”, “He’s limited skill-wise and makes up for it with effort.”
“Gil Dias is a dangerous substitute who exploits spaces that open up.” The 22-year-old Portuguese winger is on a season-long loan from Monaco. “He’s a machine who never stops running. He can also carry the ball with pace but is raw”, “He’s lightning-quick and can unleash a fierce long-range shot.”
“Dias’s work-rate is tireless off the ball and when he does pick it up, he frightens players to death by running at them with his pace”, “I like his engine off the ball, but for a player with the hype he came with, I want to see him do more with it. He shows flashes, but struggles against packed defences.”
“Diogo Goncalves is clearly talented but he spends too long out of the game doing nothing.” The 21-year-old Benfica loanee “can dance around players with the ball seemingly stuck to his feet, but he can’t apply his talent on the pitch because the pace and physicality of this league are too much”.
“Lolley is the best wide player we have had since Michail Antonio.” The 26-year-old ex-Huddersfield man is in a rich vein of form, scoring one and assisting the other four at Villa Park. “It is so important to have players who will run at full-backs”, “He takes a man on and make something out of nothing.”
Joe Lolley and Ben Brereton
“Lolley is one of those rare players who changes games in an instant. He pulls players out of position and he gets you on the edge of your seat when he runs at full-backs”, “He has the same technique as an over-excited toddler on the beach but it seems to work”, “A tremendous asset over the season.”
“I like the look of Karim Ansarifard.” The 28-year-old Iran international joined from Olympiakos this month after a delay obtaining a work permit. “Karim is good technically and very disciplined. He fits perfectly with the Portuguese guys”, “He’s a direct player who likes the ball played in to his feet.”
“Ansarifard has the dribbling, the passing skills and the work-rate to play as a secondary striker”, “He can run with the ball and can dribble, which Grabban doesn’t do well. His work ethic is impeccable, he won’t stop pressing opponents”, “He’s a useful substitute but it will be all about how he adapts.”
Adam Webster v Daryl Murphy
“Daryl Murphy is a viable option.” The 35-year-old former Newcastle and Ipswich man has not featured lately. “Karanka is using him well. He plays one game and will be rested for a few weeks even if he plays well”, “He can lead the line and pull defences all over the place late on in games.”
“I have always rated Murphy. It’s a shame he’s not five years younger”, He’s not that slow, contrary to what people believe because of his age and target man appearance”, “He bursts of acceleration catch defenders unawares”, “His movement is clever. He finds good positions and he can shoot.”
“Grabban can win us three points with the only half-chance of a boring game.” The 30-year-old one-time Canary “has been really prolific with so little this season”, “He leads the line excellently and is in the right place to capitalise for his goals”, “He defends from the front and presses defences hard.”
Lewis Grabban - Norwich
“Feed the beard!”, “Grabban isn’t a scorer of spectacular goals but knows where to be to hoover up loose balls or to attack crosses into the box”, “He has great footwork, an improving first touch and top-class reactions in the box”, “There’s also a growing understanding between him and Carvalho.”
Forest Fans’ Thoughts on ITFC and the Game
“Ipswich are so hopelessly bad that it worries me. It would just like us to screw this up”, “I hope we don't take them lightly. You do that in this league at your peril. We are bound to be a bit fatigued after the Villa heroics so very light training please”, “We absolutely must not get complacent.”
The majority of Reds expect a routine win on Saturday, but many are wary of complacency and hope that the adrenaline of Wednesday’s pulsating game at Villa Park hasn’t taken a toll.
“This has ‘banana skin’ written all over it, but hopefully we will dispatch them”, “If I were a gambling man, I would lump money on a draw or Ipswich win”, “We will be on a comedown after all of the excitement of the Villa match, and Paul Lambert will have Ipswich improve sooner rather than later.”
“I don’t know why everyone's worried about a tight game. We' have been quite good recently, they are not, and we have got a better team. This is exactly the sort of game that a team wanting to finish top six needs to win and usually does. It will be a dull 2-0 win”, “I can’t see owt but a Forest win.”
“This will be a very different game to Wednesday’s. Ipswich will look to stifle I'm sure, but hopefully we can come out of the gates and break them down early”, “We have to treat them as a top team and go at them from the off, as we did to Villa”, “If we underestimate them, we are due for a fall.”
“This will be tougher than folk think as Ipswich will come and dig in”, “I just hope we buck the Forest trend of turning in a match losing performance on the back of a very good previous game”, “Ipswich will need putting away. I would leave heavy squad rotation until we're singing week in, week out.”
“I see a 2-0 comfortable win with a goal either side of half-time and Forest barely out of second gear. Team selection will be interesting. Figueiredo will be suspended and a fair few of the players did look exhausted at full-time”, “I wouldn't go overboard on the rotation, despite how poor Ipswich are.”
“Ipswich are going to park their team in defence. I would play Guedioura in place of Colback. It will be better for Forest since he is more forward driven”, “I too would stick Pep alongside Colback for this one for a bit of invention needed to break what will be a pretty negative Ipswich approach.”
“We don’t want to slip up against Ipswich after the Villa game”, “There’s no chance of that. Villa, make no mistake, have some serious quality in that side which Ipswich just don’t have”, “I’m not sure Hefele’s lack of pace will be too much of an issue against a pedestrian Ipswich frontline.”
Some Forest fans will simply be happy to win, no matter how it comes: “Ipswich will park the bus and it will take 89 minutes to get a deflected shot in for the winning goal”, “I will take that every day of the week.”
The busiest Forest message-board is the knowledgeable and friendly LTLF Forest Forum. Nottingham Forest highlights are available on the Multimedia menu as well as Ipswich Town and for the whole of the Championship and other EFL leagues.
Photo: Action Images
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