Tag Archives: Nottingham Forest

Man City is the Matrix. That’s what this is.

Man City is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Continue reading

When Nottingham Forest flirted with being Invincible…

You wouldn’t know it from their current status, having spent most of the last twenty years outside the top flight and their flirtation with relegation after just one season in the Prem, but there was a spell during which the “tricky Trees” came close to winning the old First Division two years running seasons. They rode a 42-match unbeaten run from November 1977 to December 1978.

Continue reading

Arsenal 5-0 Forest—Can't see the Forest for the Reiss

Okay, um, in order for that title to work. I’m going to have to ask you to mispronounce Reiss so that it rhymes with “trees.” Otherwise, the brilliant play on words just doesn’t quite come off right. Saka was fouled twice in one moment (without referee Simon Hooper bothering to award us a free kick) and had to come off minutes later, and doubts that we’d be able to defend or build on Martinelli’s early goal set in. When it was Reiss Nelson who replaced Saka, those doubts deepened. However, the lad silenced those doubts by bagging a brace and assisting our fourth goal as we waltzed past our visitors and back to the top of the table. I guess my prematch post was unnecessarily bleak.

Martinelli scored early on, nodding in cleverly at the near post from Saka’s cross, and it looked like we’d be off to the races. Forest barely looked interested in getting forward, keeping nine or ten behind the ball and hoofing it upfield in hopes that Lingard or Awoniyi could chase it down, but Saliba was always faster to it than either of them were. Despite that, however, we had to wait until early in the second half when Nelson blasted home his own rebound from deep inside the box and then added a second minutes later with a clever tough in the box to slip past Henderson. Partey blasted one home from about thirty yards that I will say, with hand over my heart, was better than de Bruyne’s free kick on Saturday. And we weren’t quite done. Martin Ødegaard popped up to make it five, and the only downsides were the injuries to Saka and Xhaka and the fact that Jesus couldn’t get on the scoreline. We’ll have to revisit that last one later on.

Back to good news: Arteta got a chance at reviving the “Cedric pops up in the celebration” by subbing the defender on for his first appearance, and even Tierney found some time on the pitch after Tomiyasu against started at LB. The result makes it nine straight at the Emirates (but only the first clean sheet!) and is good enough for us to avoid the calamitous collapse so many had predicted after the setback against PSV. We’ll take a closer look at what went right (hint: Forest are not so good at the football) in another post. For now, enjoy it all, and, if that’s not enough, have a glimpse at the league table. That should cheer you up as well.

There’s a busy week coming, with an important visit from FC Zurich offering us a chance to win our Europa League group followed by what could be a tough trip to Stamford Bridge. Something tells me that we can’t count on Chelsea gifting us two goals and collapsing as they did against Brighton, but a performance like this one should put a spring in our steps for both matches. Well, that’s all for now. We’ll circle back to revisit some other takeaways tomorrow. 

Before you go, have a go in the comments section: who’s your MOTM?

Nottingham Forest Preview: We're no longer top. It's all over.

That’s it. It’s all over. There’s nothing left to play for now that Man City have wrested first place away from us. All that’s left between us, relegation, administration, and liquidation are 27 matches that are yet to be played. That’s a mere 71% of the season, but, now that every pundit’s prediction about Arsenal’s eventual collapse have been validated, there’s nothing left for us to play for. Just give the trophy to Man City and start penning the gleeful posts gloating over our fall from grace and glory. Out of fairness to the fans who already bought tickets for Sunday’s match, we might as well play. I just hope that this gloomy fate doesn’t hang too heavily over our players’ heads. Let’s just get this preview over with, shall we?

Okay, okay. I’ll drop the charade. Man City do now top the table courtesy of their 0-1 win over Leicester, but we do have a chance to reclaim top spot if we can take care of business versus Nottingham Forest. Despite being absolute bottom, Forest have looked tougher of late, having conceded just three goals in their last four. This includes last weekend’s confidence-boosting win over Liverpool (everyone’s beating Liverpool these days, at least when Liverpool come to visit). The again, this is the same Forest that has yet to win away from the City Ground, scoring just two goals in five matches. Both goals came from Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi, accounting for 25% of the eight goals Forest have scored all season.

Despite our recent struggles (we haven’t really looked all that good since beating Liverpool), we really should be able to find our way past our visitors. We’ll probably be without Marquinhos, Elneny, Zinchenko, Big Gabi, and Smith Rowe, but Forest face a similar injury dilemma with five players unavailable. We’ll face a few old nemeses in Jesse Lingard, who has scored four goals against us; and Serge Aurier, whom Martinelli will probably torment all afternoon.

This matchup in fact is the one that has me salivating. Martinelli has been rinsing better defenders than Aurier all season long. The Ivorian is more of a wingback than he is a defender, and his poor concentration should give Martinelli all sorts of openings with and without the ball. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Martinelli will bag a brace and Aurier will end up getting booked before the day is done. 

This is one in which Arteta again goes for some rotation. We host FC Zurich with a chance at winning our Europa group followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge, where we might hope that Chelsea play just as well as they did today in their 4-1 drubbing at Brighton. Heck, today, 29 October, is the eleventh anniversary of that famous 3-5 win—that’s the one in which Theo Walcott fell down, got up, ran past Ashley Cole, and lash the ball home (shuck!); Andre Santos scored and did that cringey samba; and John Terry fell to his knees to watch van Persie round Petr Petr Čech on his way to a hat-trick (and then cause a bit of a bother with what some insisted was a Nazi salute.) 

Anyway, one match at a time. Let’s let look past Forest. Final score prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Forest.

A painful, painful lesson in schadenfreude…

It was all going so swimmingly well. All too well, it turns out. For about ten minutes or so, both Liverpool and Tottenham trailed their diminutive League One visitors as we prepared to visit Championship side Nottingham Forest. The glee, the schadenfreude, the lip-smacking, and more were all there for the taking as we savored the idea of hated rivals crashing out ignominiously against lesser foes while we prepared to advance. Alas, it was not to be as first Shrewsbury wilted in short order, ultimately succumbing to a 4-1 thrashing, and then Morecambe crumbled, agonisingly close to full time in a 3-1 scoreline that flattered Tottenham to no end. Then, to make matters worse, we’ll all be eating a healthy serving of humble pie as we went down in flames—again—to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round.  I don’t know what’s worse: that Tottenham advance or that we crash out. 

More seriously, we really should have seen this coming, and not just because Forest embarrassed us the last time we faced them in this very same fixture in 2018. Apparently, they join Bayern and Barca as Arsenal-slayers. Woe betide us if we draw them ever again. To be more than fair, though, new-ish manager Steve Cooper has turned them around with a quickness. Since taking the helm on 21 September, Forest have climbed from bottom of the table to as high as seventh before slipping back ever so slightly to ninth. After winning just one of their first eight matches, they’ve managed eight wins, six draws, and and three losses. Despite all this, however, it seemed that we underestimated our hosts.
Fingers can’t really point at Arteta, here. An attack that features Martinelli, Saka, and Ødegaard really should be capable of creating more chances, even against spirited opposition. If there is any fault to be found in Arteta, it’s in the lack of senior leadership in the XI. Holding and Leno were the oldest players to start, but neither man through reputation, personality, or performance can really rally younger players. Even a look at the bench suggests that leadership would be in short supply, with youngsters like Patino, Biereth, Oulad M’hand, and Hutchinson making the bench. 
And that’s the dilemma for Prem sides in this situation, all the more so as we look past this fixture—regrettably, it turns out—to prepare for other, ostensibly more-vital ones, such as Thursday’s League Cup semifinal first leg against Liverpool. Now, however, we face a very-real risk of not having our cake or eating it. Having been dumped from the League Cup, there is no guarantee that Liverpool will roll over for us, even for as much as Klopp’s hatred for the League Cup burns with the heat of a thousand suns (and remember, he’s the one with the penchant for hyperbole). Whatever kind of side Klopp names for Thursday, let’s hope we see the kind of performance our boys showed against Man City + Atwell last weekend. Looking past that, keep in mind that we did go into Anfield back in November and put in a creditable first half against their full-strength XI. If we can find a result on Thursday, it’s more than likely that Klopp will just throw in the towel for the second leg.
Let’s hope then that this painful lesson we’ve learned sticks with us and motivates our lads to stiffen their spines. We haven’t lost three matches in a row yet this season. I somehow doubt we’ll let that happen this week.