Paul Clement’s Reading travel to Nottingham to face Aitor Karanka’s Forest side. The Reds have spent big this summer, most notably the £13m signing of João Carvalho from Benfica, and would have been heading into this season full of confidence after a highly successful transfer window. However, two draws in the first two games of the season is not the start fans would be hoping for, and may go into the game on Saturday feeling downbeat after West Brom’s late equaliser on Tuesday night.
Forest have been crying out for a proven striker since the departure of Britt Assombolonga last summer, and Lewis Grabban has the potential to be the man the fans have been looking for. 20 goals in 34 Championship appearances last season is a very impressive return for the former Reading loanee and shows just why Forest spent a rumoured £6m on him this summer.
Grabban hardly set the world alight whilst on loan at the Mad Stad, but Forest will be hoping he can recreate his form from last season and help them push towards the play-offs, or perhaps the automatic promotion spots.
How do Forest set up?
Throughout pre-season and in the first two fixtures of the new season Forest have used a 4-2-3-1 formation and here is how they probably will line up:
Costel Pantilimon; Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Dawson, Danny Fox, Ben Osborn; Ben Watson, Adlѐne Guedioura; Diogo Gonçalves, João Carvalho, Gil Dias; Lewis Grabban
Now don’t get me wrong, I was impressed with a lot of things that Forest did on Tuesday against West Brom, but it did seem at points that they hadn’t completely jelled yet, which is completely understandable after a summer overhaul like they have had.
I expect them to cause Reading problems, but I think they will give the ball away easily at points and give Reading opportunities. If Reading get forward like they did in the first half against Derby, they will have chances to get ahead (and hopefully don’t just sit back and defend at 1-0) and there’s no reason we couldn’t beat Aitor Karanka’s side.
Who are Forest’s key men?
Personally, Lewis Grabban will be the biggest threat to Reading’s defence and could cause a lot of problems if he gets supplied well enough by his team-mates. 20 goals in 34 games last season is no mean feat and he will be looking to get off the mark as soon as possible for his new side.
João Carvalho will also provide some creativity through will be looking to cause problems in behind Lewis Grabban. The £13m signing from Benfica will be hoping to prove exactly why Forest splashed the cash on him.
Forest’s main area of weakness is their full backs: Tendayi Darikwa and Ben Osborn. Both are very attacking and weak whilst defending, so Mo Barrow and Sone Aluko should have a lot of chances to attack down their respective flanks. Osborn, a winger by trade, looks very uncomfortable at left back but is growing into it, so playing them now gives us a good chance to profit on his inevitable mistakes.
Mo Barrow beats 90% of right backs for pace, and Darikwa shouldn’t be any different. A very forward thinking right back, but not very good at defending (which is quite vital as a defender, clearly), Barrow should have a field day on Saturday and hopefully whoever starts up front will have plenty of chances to put the ball in the back of the net.
I would like to thank Sam Straw (@SamStraw on Twitter) for his insight on Forest and how they will set up.