Nottingham Forest travel to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow to take on Arsenal on the opening day of the Premier League. A tough first clash to kick-start the season.
Nottingham Forest are gearing up for a second consecutive season in the Premier League. Having beaten the odds to stay up last season, the club’s aim will once again be to stay in the Premier League, and even try to improve on last season’s 16th-place finish.
Not an easy task. Nottingham Forest have not strengthened much this summer, with only the arrivals of Chris Wood (his loan turned into a permanent transfer), Ola Aina, Anthony Elanga and Matt Turner, while they have lost key players such as Renan Lodi and Dean Henderson. New signings are expected, notably in the positions of left-back, goalkeeper, central defender, central midfielder and striker.
With the current squad, here’s how Steve Cooper should line up his team to face Arsenal. Matt Turner is expected to start for Nottingham Forest. As luck would have it, he’ll be facing his former team-mates at his old stadium. At left-back, Ola Aina should start. The Nigerian defender impressed during pre-season and already looks an excellent piece of business, having arrived on a free transfer. The central defense should be made up of three players, as is often the case in pre-season. With the injuries to Felipe and Moussa Niakhaté, Steve Cooper should be relying on Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna and Willy Boly. A trio that struggled a little during pre-season, but played much better in their last game against Eintracht Frankfurt. Serge Aurier is expected to start at right-back, although Neco Williams has performed well in pre-season.
In midfield, three players are expected to line up. Although Steve Cooper used Remo Freuler extensively in the friendlies, the trio is likely to consist of Ryan Yates, Orel Mangala and Danilo. These are the three players who played against Eintracht Frankfurt, and their complementarity seems to do Forest’s midfield a world of good. The main question mark over tomorrow’s line-up is the presence, or otherwise, of Taiwo Awoniyi. The Nigerian international seems to be back from injury and could be ready for the game against Arsenal, according to The Athletic. However, it might be prudent to give him a little more time before allowing him to play again. Nottingham Forest’s attack should therefore consist of Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson, who was able to get some game time in the match against Eintracht Frankfurt after fully recovering from injury.
Predicted Starting XI: Turner – Aina, Worrall, McKenna, Boly – Yates, Mangala, Danilo – Gibbs-White, Johnson.