1 - The Case for a Back 5
I have been an advocate of the back three/five for some time now, I feel that it gives us the defensive solidarity that we so desperately need when facing attacking teams. Not only that, but it gives our forwards more freedom to remain higher up the pitch. With Forest playing their preferred 4-2-3-1, Joe Lolley and Dias Gil stretched our full backs and often needed cover from their partnering centre-half. This ensured that Lewis Grabban could have free roam in the middle, something that should never be offered to an experienced striker of his ilk. Would playing five at the back have prevented the defeat? Personally, I don’t think it would. Forest were a very impressive footballing side, and I can see them being right up there in the play-off places come the end of the season. With Hull favouring the back three system, I would like to see fire fought with fire come the weekend.
2 - Jason Lowe Suspension
After Jason Lowe picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, he will be missing for the crucial battle with Hull City at the weekend. Along with his suspension, and Gary O’Neil’s injury, it looks like we will be missing an enforcing presence. I think Jason Lowe’s performances this season have gone massively under the radar, I believe has had some difficult games, but that is football. He does the ugly jobs well, and his influence on the pitch is clear to see. I think he will be a big miss for us on Saturday.
3 - Gulf in Quality
Once the team sheets were announced, it was clear to see a massive gap in the quality between the two sides. I had heard raving reports about Joao Carvalho, but the 21 year old went a level above what I thought he was going to be. His constant desire for being on the ball is something we are severely lacking, his passing range and technical ability was second to none on the pitch and his £13.2 million transfer fee was justified. As previously mentioned, Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley were outstanding, as they so consistently are in this division. Nottingham Forest had spent over £20 million alone on their front four, which is always going to be difficult to compete with.
4 - Lack of Confidence
As so commonly seen in the first half, especially with our wide-men in Craig Noone and Yanic WIldschut, there seems to be an absence of confidence. Neither player looked to want to drive at their man, cross first time or take a pot-luck shot from distance, something we so often see when Sammy Ameobi is fit. This can also be seen when the players are resorting to the long ball from the back four. During the match against Derby, we saw the Wanderers side playing out from the back and passing and moving against a Derby side who had a lot of quality. Was this due to Oztumer starting? Was it due to Matthews replacing the injured Alnwick? Or was it due to the fact we were leading after 10 minutes? I personally think once we go ahead in the game, we look on top, but once we concede, the players’ heads drop and it is difficult to bounce back.
5 - 6 points from 30
After this loss against Forest, it means we have only been able to pick up six points from an available 30 in our last ten games. If Saturday’s game against Hull wasn’t already important, it has got a lot more important. With a number of difficult games coming up, such as Aston Villa away next Friday, we need three points under our belt to inject some confidence into the side. I don’t care how it’s done, but we need to win. Good, bad or ugly. Three points could be start the rejuvenation of some of our players and a positive spell of games.