AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to maintain their excellent home form when they host Championship rivals Nottingham Forest at Vitality Stadium tonight (8pm kick-off).
The Cherries clawed back a 2-0 half-time deficit to triumph 4-2 against Reading on Saturday, a victory which saw Jason Tindall’s team extend to six matches their unbeaten home record.
Nottingham Forest arrive in Dorset on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Barnsley where late goals from Callum Styles and Cauley Woodrow earned the Tykes a fourth win in five games.
Forest parted company with head coach Sabri Lamouchi in October having lost their first five games, including Championship reverses against QPR (2-0), Cardiff (2-0), Huddersfield (1-0) and Bristol City (2-1). They were also knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Barnsley.
New manager Chris Hughton worked his magic immediately with Joe Lolley’s 90th-minute winner earning them three points at Blackburn in his first game.
Successive 1-1 draws against Rotherham, Derby and Luton followed before a late Marvin Johnson goal saw the Reds suffer defeat at Middlesbrough.
Before going down to Barnsley, Forest had beaten Coventry (2-1) and Wycombe (2-0) with former Cherries striker Lyle Taylor scoring three times in those two wins, taking his tally for the season to four.
Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Paul Taylor who covers the fortunes of Forest for The Athletic.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST IN PROFILE
Manager: Chris Hughton (appointed October 2020)
Club captain: Lewis Grabban
Last game: Barnsley 2-0 Nottingham Forest (Championship)
Leading goalscorer 2020/21: Lyle Taylor (four in Championship)
League position: 20th
Past six league results: DDLWWL
afcb.co.uk: Sum up Forest’s season so far?
PT: It was a slow start under Sabri Lamouchi to say the least. They could barely get a goal, never mind a win which ended with him getting the sack.
It was a little surprising they didn’t get rid of him in the summer after their play-off capitulation when they looked on course to comfortably finish in the top six and then absolutely blew it.
Chris Hughton seemed a solid appointment and the improvement under him he has been steady.
You could see it slowly coming and they are playing better than some of their results might suggest. You can see what he’s trying to do and, hopefully, it will reap dividends in the near future.
afcb.co.uk: How has Chris Hughton changed things?
PT: Initially, he didn’t change things hugely. He kept things as a starting point to be solid, difficult to break down and defensively disciplined.
What he has done is simultaneously managed to find a little more of an attacking threat. Forest have the fourth highest expected goals figure in the Championship but that’s not translating into goals.
They have only scored two away from home – a hugely-deflected effort from Joe Lolley and an own goal.
You can see where their problems lie but it feels like things are coming together. If they start converting the good chances they are creating then they will soon move up the table.
afcb.co.uk: Give us a word on Harry Arter, Lewis Grabban and Lyle Taylor?
PT: Arter has looked good when he’s got chances but he hasn’t had too many. Hughton seems to favour Jack Colback and Ryan Yates.
Whether that changes against Bournemouth with such a busy run of games coming up remains to be seen.
Taylor has been very impressive. He works hard, looks like he takes his chances. He failed to put away a decent chance against Barnsley but we’ll forgive him that because he’s been good overall.
Last season, Grabban was their most important player. He literally saved them. They created so few chances but he would get one or two a game and score.
His 20 goals were the main reason they were at the top end of the division. To be brutally honest, they have missed him and could do with him now.
He’s got a hip problem that’s kept him out and he’s been a big loss. The sooner he’s back, the better because he’s a vital figure.
afcb.co.uk: Having reported on the Championship for a while, what’s your view on it this season?
PT: It all seems a bit weird. I haven’t got any stats to back this up but the results seem to be all over the place.
You look at the fixtures and think “they are going to win there and they are going to do well there” but it rarely ends up being what you think it was going to be.
There is obvious quality in the likes of Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford. The teams coming down from the Premier League are always strong. It’s wide open.
I think teams like Bournemouth and Norwich are going to be the ones to beat. If you finish above them this season, you will probably be somewhere near where you want to be.
afcb.co.uk: Who is Forest’s one to watch?
PT: Scott McKenna has been very solid since he signed from Aberdeen in the summer. He’s a left-sided centre-half.
Last season, Joe Worrall, who’s right footed, had to play on the left side of central defence and did very well. But having a left-sided centre-half in the team has already made a real difference.
There isn’t too much spectacular about him, he just heads it and kicks it and is very composed on the ball but he has made a real difference and looks like one heck of a signing. Forest did very well to pick him out of Scotland.
afcb.co.uk: Are any players either injured or suspended against the Cherries?
PT: Lewis Grabban has a hip problem and won’t play. I don’t know what Alex Mighten’s injury is but I don’t think he will play either. He missed the game on Saturday.
Joe Worrall has a broken bone in his foot and won’t play. He’s a few weeks off playing just yet. Michael Dawson has a hip problem and is another absentee.
afcb.co.uk: What’s your score prediction?
PT: I’d just be happy to see Forest score an away goal!
Let’s sit on the fence and go with a 1-1 draw.
You can follow Paul on Twitter – @nottmtails
Officials: Simon Hooper (referee), Derek Eaton (assistant), Graham Kane (assistant), Sam Purkiss (fourth official).