Brentford are ready to host Nottingham Forest on Saturday (January 20) in what is expected to be a crunch bottom-of-the-Premier League table battle between two teams scampering to stay as far as possible from the drop zone.
The Bees will receive a boost in the form of a highly-anticipated return of striker Ivan Toney after an eight-month ban for breaching gambling rules. But they will need to significantly improve their performance level to oust a rejuvenated Forest side that looks to be on the ascendancy under Nuno Espirito Santo.
Thomas Frank’s side are just about the bookmakers’ favourites to reign supreme on the day, probably because of the impending return of Toney – which is guaranteed to give a major boost to their goal-scoring chances.
Brentford win: 10/11 (1.91) – 52.4%
Draw: 13/5 (3.6) – 27.8%
Nottingham Forest win: 11/4 (3.75) – 26.7%
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Brentford win: -112 (1.89) – 52.8%
Draw: +270 (3.7) – 27%
Nottingham Forest win: +290 (3.9) – 25.6%
The visitors are definitely the more in-form side head into this game, with Nuno’s arrival giving some life to the team after he replaced Steve Cooper as the head coach.
Loss: 3-1 vs Crystal Palace
Loss: 4-1 vs Wolves
Loss: 2-1 vs Aston Villa
Loss: 1-0 vs Sheffield United
Loss: 2-1vs Brighton
Nottingham Forest: 15th
Win: 2-1 vs Manchester United
Win: 3-1 vs Newcastle United
Loss: 3-2 vs Bournemouth
Loss: 2-0 vs Tottenham Hotspur
Draw: 1-1 vs Wolves
Brentford vs Nottingham Forest Head-to-Head (last 5 fixtures)
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Brentford (1 October, 2023)
Brentford 2-1 Nottingham Forest (29 April, 2023)
Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brentford (5 November, 2022)
Brentford 1-1 Nottingham Forest (20 March, 2021)
Nottingham Forest 1-3 Brentford (12 December, 2022)
Thomas Frank will be welcoming back the return of Toney, but there are still a number of injury issues that plague his squad. Defenders Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey are out with major injuries, while forward Bryan Mbeumo is also out with a knock. Brentford will also be missing Christian Norgaard. The likes of Yoane Wissa, Frank Onyeka and Saman Ghoddos are all unavailable due to Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Brentford Predicted Lineup: Mark Flekken, Nathan Collins, Ben Mee, Kristoffer Ajer, Mads Roerslev, Vitaly Janelt, Marco Jensen, Mikkel Damsgaard, Keane Lewis-Potter, Neal Maupay, Ivan Toney
Nottingham Forest have their share of injury issues as well, suffering from a lot of players being out. Striker Taiwo Awoniyi is still out until March, while Divock Origi is also doubtful. The likes of Anthony Elanga, Felipe Monteiro are also unlikely to make it – while Forest have six players (including Serge Aurier, Ibrahim Sangare and Willy Boly) in AFCON duty.
Nottingham Forest Predicted Lineup: Matt Turner, Gonzalo Montiel, Andrew Omobamidele, Nuno Tavares, Ryan Yates, Danilo, Morgan Gibbs-White, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Nicolas Dominguez, Chris Wood
Where the game will be decided
With both the teams under pressure of being dragged into the relegation battle, this one will be a game with high stakes on both sides. That is why it is expected to be an end-to-end, action-packed clash where neither side is likely to sit back and be content with one point.
As a result, the battle in the middle of the park will be quintessential in deciding which one reigns supreme. Brentford and Forest are both missing some first-team players, but still have their share of experienced midfielders capable of influencing the result.
Ultimately, the team that is able to control the spaces in midfield better and are quicker in setting up the transitions will be the more dangerous side. Forest and Brentford both have clinical forward, but the result will all depend on how quickly and how often the ball can be fed to Toney or Chris Wood in the opposition area.
The biggest spotlight in this game will be upon Ivan Toney, who is set to make his return from injury. He scored 20 goals in 33 Premier League appearances last season, and recently scored a hattrick for Brentford B in their 5-1 win over Southampton U23s. He doesn’t seem to have missed a touch and faces a Forest side that has conceded two or more goals in two of their last five games. Putting in a bet for Toney to have a dream return with a goal isn’t that unrealistic.
Despite their standings, neither Brentford nor Nottingham Forest are really that into corners for their goals. The former has averaged 4.75 corners and the latter 3.7 corners won per game, so a bet on less than 7 corners being awarded in this game can be a cheeky gamble.
Interestingly, the Bees have proven themselves as decent in terms of taking winning positions this season. However, they have also dropped 20 points from winning positions this season, more than any other side. So predicting them to score first and then end up playing out a scored draw can be logical.
Brentford and Forest have both scored goals in their last five games, including two Championship ties. It seems neither are able to keep clean sheets as of late, having been unable to do so in the last five Premier League games. So to bet them to both score can be a sound bet.
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