|Nottingham Forest 1 v 2 Middlesbrough|
Wednesday, 20th January 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Nottingham Forest vs Middlesbrough: Opposition Preview
Tuesday, 19th Jan 2021 14:46 by Phil Spencer
Middlesbrough face their biggest bogey team as they travel to face Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Despite falling to defeat against Birmingham City the Teessiders are in decent form at present, however they'll face a tough test in the East Midlands.
Chris Hughton's side are on a run of seven matches without defeat in all competitions with the Reds boasting ambitions of a rapid rise up the table.
But what do we know about Forest?
We spoke to Rich Ferraro from the 1865 Forest Ramble podcast for the lowdown.
Nottingham Forest have shown a remarkable level of improvement in recent games, what has changed?
Two things have happened; firstly, and most importantly, the Reds have finally got over their hangover from last season. 2020 was mostly a horrendous year - we had a good Christmas 2019, and then form has actually been patchy ever since (and downright awful at times). This was compounded by a ridiculous summer transfer window which seemed to show a total lack of strategy and forethought. The second thing was that we had an awful run of games - six matches in a row against the top six, which isn't what you need when you are in a bad run; but since then we have been playing teams who aren't pulling up any trees. Although the Reds are nowhere near ok just yet, there is an improved sense of assurance and confidence.
How would you rate the job being done by Chris Hughton?
Obviously, don't pay attention to social media - if you believed what you read on Twitter, a few weeks ago he was taking the team backwards, and now there are a lot of people saying "I told you so". In reality, we knew what we were getting, a steady Eddie who believes in evolution not revolution. There were some horrendous patches of play but the general standard of performance has slowly improved. After all the ups and downs of changing manager and strategies every season (sometimes more than once a season), I hope that the club now appreciate the value of a steady pair of hands.
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Are you expecting a busy January transfer window?
No. Our squad is ridiculously bloated, we are paying a lot of money in wages to players who are not even close to the 25 man squad. I also think that Hughton can improve the performance levels of several of those who were lacking confidence and under-achieving. Keeping Anthony Knockaert for the rest of the season on loan seems to make sense, and another loan player Luke Freeman, is due to return from a long injury lay-off. Hopefully this can help the team improve when transitioning to attacking situations.
Who are the key players that Middlesbrough need to watch out for?
Whichever one plays of Knockaert or Mighten - they are both tricky wingers who fancy themselves when taking on their full-back, and the most likely to create chances for the lone centre-forward (probably Lewis Grabban). At the back, Scott McKenna and Nottingham's own Joe Worrall are showing signs of a promising defensive partnership, so your forwards may have a tough evening.
How do you expect Forest to line up?
It's always 4-2-3-1 with Hughton, and he likes a settled back four, so probably: Samba; Christie, Worrall, McKenna, Ribeiro; Yates, Sow; Knockaert, Cafu, Ameobi; Grabban.
Predictions for the game?
It's a tough one, but with home advantage (whatever that is worth, with no fans), I would hope Forest can get a win, maybe 1-0.
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