West Brom v Nottingham Forest, Championship, January 8, 2010
In a match with potentially massive implications for the promotion race, second-placed West Brom play host to third-placed Nottingham Forest on Friday night in the Championship as two of the division’s form teams go head-to-head. The Baggies currently hold a two point advantage over their opponents, as well as having the luxury of a game in hand, so if Forest really want to keep the pressure on for the automatic promotion places then really a win is what Billy Davies’ men must be looking for.
Forest will be buoyed by their brilliant 17 match unbeaten run in all competitions, which has included ten wins in the process. However, the former English giants will be acutely aware of their differing fortunes when playing at home or away.
When on the road, Forest have adopted a far more functional feel to the more attack-minded home performances. Boasting the meanest away records in the division having conceded just 7 goals away from City Ground (Forest are 4/1 to keep a clean sheet), while scoring just 11 goals on their travels, Forest have made themselves into the proverbial hard nut to crack in their away matches. This is acutely represented in their away stats this season, which has seen Forest claim three wins, nine draws and no defeats away from home.
All omens point then to Forest looking for another draw (0-0 is 11/1, 1-1 is 7/1) on their trip to the Hawthorns, with a goal-glut unlikely on recent away form this season. (10/11 aginst both team’s scoring)
Last time out Forest held Premier League high-flyers Birmingham to a goalless draw in the FA Cup (Forest’s 6th clean sheet on the bounce), a match which saw Davies have to rest Aston Villa full-back Nicky Shorey as prescribed by the terms of the defender’s loan deal. Shorey will return to his customary left-back duties this weekend, allowing fellow fullback Chris Gunter to revert to his more comfortable position of right-back on the opposing flank.
With no fresh injury concerns, Forest will have to decided which of Dele Adebola, Dexter Blackstock or Robert Earnshaw will be selected to lead the visitors attack. (Forest are 18/1 to win both halves)
Albion’s preparations for the showdown with Nottingham Forest has been boosted by the news that new loan signing Gabriel Tamas will be eligible to play. The Romania international centre-back arrived at The Hawthorns last week but was unable to feature in the 2-0 FA Cup triumph over Huddersfield as he awaited a work permit and international clearance. But that has now arrived and, with Abdoulaye Meite on African Nations Cup duty, Tamas could well slot in alongside Jonas Olsson at the heart of defence. (West Brom are 13/8 to keep a clean sheet)
The virus that swept through the Albion squad last week has now gone and there are no fresh injury worries to report, meaning Roberto Di Matteo has an almost full compliment of healthy players for the important fixture. Of those likely to be absent, Ishmael Miller will still be missing after coming through 45 minutes of a training match against Port Vale on his comeback from a knee injury. James Morrison (heel) is also still a week or two away from returning to first-team training.
The man of the moment for the Baggies is 22-year-old midfielder Graham Dorrans, who has stolen many of the headlines this season as the club’s joint top scorer with eight goals. The sought-after talent has moved to quash rumours of a move away from the Hawthorns by penning a new three-and-a-half year contract.
Dorrans though isn’t alone in having scored goals for West Brom in the first half of the season. The Baggies are the division’s highest goalscorers with 48 goals so far this campaign, with strikers Simon Cox, Roman Bednar and Luke Moore all amongst the goals this season, while Chris Brunt and Jerome Thomas have chipped in with six goals apiece from midfield.
Undoubtedly, West Brom will provide Forest with one of their toughest challenges of the season leaving fence-sitters to predict a low-scoring match (10/11 that there will be under 2.5 goals) which could likely end in stalemate.
101predicts: West Brom 1 – Nottingham Forest 0 (15/2)
Full match odds here.