The last round of matches in the Premier League prior to the international break is a truncated one this weekend because of the FA Cup quarter finals taking place. It begins on Friday night with one match which impacts both halves of the table when Nottingham Forest host Newcastle United.
Nottingham Forest are just about keeping their heads above water but need another win soon to remain in that position. Newcastle are chasing down a spot in the top four and can steal a march in that regard here.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League channels with the build-up to it beginning at 7pm and kick off at the City Ground at 8pm.
You kind of got the impression from the moment that they won the Championship play-off final last season that this was going to be an eventful and up and down campaign for Nottingham Forest. Those feelings were only heightened when half of the registered professional footballers known to man arrived in the red part of Nottingham in the summer transfer window. Understandably it took them a while to get going but they have negotiated themselves away from the drop zone.
They haven’t really put sufficient space between them and the bottom three though and one of the reasons for that is the fact that they are winless in five in the Premier League and only have one win in seven to their name. They are undefeated in nine at the City Ground though and in that run Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have all visited. That should give them encouragement in what is a chance to put pressure on the other teams at the bottom.
In contrast to Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United were expected to go well this season under their new owners. To be fair, they haven’t spent nearly as much as was expected when the Saudis took charge at St James’ Park but the money they have spent has been used wisely and a very good season is the result of that. This is one which has seen them compete in a cup final and could yet end in a special way if they can reach the top four.
Either side of the cup final their results went a bit weird. Prior to last week they had one win in eight in the Premier League with scoring goals beginning to become a major issue. They had only registered three goals in those eight games so they will have been pleased to find the net twice in the win over Wolves last Sunday. One thing which hasn’t let them down has been their defence. That is why no team has lost fewer Premier League matches than Newcastle this season.
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Nottingham Forest have a couple of issues in the attacking area of the pitch. Chris Wood is injured but wouldn’t have been able to play against his parent club anyway. Brennan Johnson is also likely to miss out but Cheikhou Kouyate is back to strengthen the midfield.
Newcastle United are going to be without January signing Anthony Gordon for this match as he has picked up an injury. Joelinton serves the second game of a two match ban so Joe Willock is expected to get another start.
You have to respect the recent home form of Nottingham Forest but at the same time their injury list is beginning to mount up a little too high for my liking and the one man they can’t afford to lose would be Brennan Johnson and he is considered a major doubt for this match. He is the player who can stretch a defence and probably got to attack the Newcastle weakness if there is one. If he is missing I struggle to see where Forest will break down a tough as teak defence.
The question is whether Newcastle United can get at the Forest defence at the other end but I would expect them to dominate possession and then it comes down to whether they have that bit of class to do the business. In either Alexander Isak or Callum Wilson they are not short of quality up front and the likes of Miguel Almiron and Bruno Guimaraes should be able to come up with something too. Newcastle might be a little short in the match market but when you add them to win to nil the 13/8 on that feels much better.
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