It's the "Transfer Embargo" derby this Saturday as Leeds travel to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forrest. Both clubs have been rocked with the news that they will not be able to add to their squad until June 2015 at the earliest. The two sets of fans would have been hopeful of injecting new blood into their side this January, and it is badly needed to help two of the league's most out form teams. Let's look at the stats to see where the game could be won and lost.
Poor at home vs poor away
Following an insipid display against Fulham, Neil Redfearn's side should be desperate to make amends but are facing an uphill battle against a Forest team chasing a playoff spot. Most struggling teams taking on a playoff hopeful would take heart from Forest's middling home record, they are 15th in the table when playing at home, winning just 4 of 10. However, as unimpressive as Forest have been in their own building, Leeds have been even worse picking up just 5 points from their trips away.
Forest have significantly dropped off in form since making an impressive start. After picking up 17 points out of 21 from their opening fixtures they have won only 2 of their last 14 matches. This may be explained by their over reliance on two key players. 29 of the 31 goals they have scored this season have been either scored or assisted by Brit Assombalonga or Michail Antonio. Both are undoubtedly very dangerous players but it is much easier to prepare a team to stop 2 players as opposed to a more balanced team that spread the goals around. Stuart Pearce's team have only won one match this season when either of their two dangermen have not scored (a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday), and even then Antonio provided the assist for the only goal in that match.
Antonio will likely play in an attacking left midfield role. 41% of Forest's attacks come down Antonio's left flank, this is the 3rd most in the league. Forest also attempt to cross the ball on average 25 times a game, this is the 2nd most and emphasises how keen Pearce is to get his dangerous left winger on the ball. Sam Byram's ability to nullify the threat down the left side will be crucial for Redfearn's team to get a good result. 15 of their 31 goals have been scored in the 6 yard box and gives a good insight into how Forest aim to score; a dangerous Antonio cross into the 6 yard box for Assombalonga to get on the end of. Marco Silvestri will be required to command his area well in order to prevent Leeds having a bad day. Do this and Forest will be frustrated, only 3 of their 31 goals have come from outside the penalty area.
Don't be surprised if this match ends with less than 22 players on the pitch, Forest and Leeds have picked up the 5th and 6th most yellow cards, respectively. Both teams have been racking up the cards this season, and have amassed 83 yellows between them. In addition to this Leeds are the team that attempts the most tackles per game (whether they are successful or not!) with 28. Opponents have successfully dribbled past a Leeds player 164 times so far (7.8 per game) the 2nd worst in the league, these are exactly the types of situations that usually draw a foul. Opposing midfielder Henri Lansbury could well be one of those who finds himself in the referee's book, no player in the Championship has more yellow cards than his 9 in 21 games, meaning he has picked up a card for every 130 minutes he has played.
Jack of all trades, master of none
Nottingham Forest are a difficult team to predict based on the statistics. They have scored 31 goals (9th best) and conceded 26 (10th best). They don't seem to excel at any one aspect of the game in particular. They don't keep possession for fun like some teams, their average amount of possession is 12th best in the league, as is their pass success rate of 74.3%. Usually teams who struggle with possession aim to make the most out of set pieces, however Forest's haul of 6 goals from dead ball situations is 16th in the league. They have 7 dribbles per game (9th most) and are the 10th most fouled team in the league, this shows that they are good but not great at taking players on and committing them. They are unlikely to blow anyone away but are also solid enough to avoid being dominated by the majority of teams.
Forest are a well rounded team that are slightly above average with 2 very talented players capable of changing the game. Their early good form was possible because teams hadn't figured out that stopping Antonio and Assombalonga, while difficult, greatly reduces the team's effectiveness as a whole. Their poor home form suggests that when teams prevent crosses, specifically ones aimed under the keeper's nose, they struggle to break down the opposition. If Byram and Silvestri perform at the top of their game then getting a positive result is a serious possibility.
Prediction: Big games from Silvestri and Byram result in a battling 0-1 win for Leeds.