On Saturday, Nottingham Forest will be seeking their 3rd consecutive home win and cannot wait to get started... but wait up, has anyone told them Leeds United will be seeking their 4th straight away win? Renewed optimism surrounds Leeds fans currently, and a potential win over Forest (with other results going their way) could push United up to where we want them to be: in a play off spot.
Too optimistic? Not according to former Forest legend Kenny Burns who claims Forest's "shambolic" defending could drag them into a relegation battle. That comment may be a little premature, although Forest have leaked 10 league goals so far this season, highest in the division. If Monk plays his cards right and goes with an attacking mindset, that defensive frailty could be exploited to the benefit of United's strikers.
For this game, the fixture cards must have been shuffled. Forest vs. Leeds has been played in December since 2012, and on the whole with less than impressive results. United fair better playing Forest in August, and I was there in August 2007 to see Beckford fire home the winner in the 89th minute, simultaneously emptying 3 sides of the ground quicker than you can say sore losers.
Since that day, both clubs have moved up the leagues and are eyeing Championship Play Off places. Believe it or not Leeds are showing more ambition than their midlands rivals. New manager Garry Monk has somehow managed to bring in 11 new players, with Forest being restricted to a number of free transfers whilst they await the take over by Evangelos Marinakis, owner of Olympiakos. Their latest signing is Serbian keeper Vladamir Stojkovic who joined just a few days ago. Should he make his expected debut Saturday, I can think of a few guys who will be lining up to warm his gloves and welcome him to English Football.
At the City Grounds, there have been 44 encounters, with Forest winning 17, Leeds 8 and 19 draws.
From the first 4 games in the league, Leeds are W1, L2, D1 and Forest have W2, D0 and L2 whilst both clubs progressed in the EFL Cup midweek knocking out clubs from lower divisions, Luton Town and Millwall respectively.
Leeds Player to Watch
With Garry Monk preferring to use his own signings, Pontus Jansson could make a league debut. He was a solid performer in the Luton game particularly at defending corners and crosses, an area in which the Whites defence have been lacking.
Forest Player to Watch
Pacey winger Oliver Burke is Forest's joint top scorer with 3 goals. Quoted by teammate Thomas Lam as having similar attributes to Gareth Bale, he "will be a threat to every defender in the Championship." We'll see about that.
Nottingham Forest v Leeds United
EFL Championship Fixture
The City Ground, Nottingham
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds
Saturday, August 27, 2016
7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United's possible lineup
Green, Taylor, Jansson, Bartley, Ayling, Bridcutt, Vieira, Mowatt, Sacko, Antonsson, Wood
Nottingham Forest's possible lineup
Stojkovic, Pereira, Lam, Mancienne, Fox, Cohen (c), Burke, Cash, Kasami, Osborn, Assombalonga
With 19 previous matches at the City Ground drawn, I can forgive you for thinking towards a draw, but Leeds seem to prefer playing their best on the road so far this season. An away trip to the City Ground with their shaky defence is not so daunting. Leeds's in form top guns should have enough firepower to cut down the Forest. My prediction: 1-2 Leeds.