Given the eye-catching business the club completed in the transfer window, what have you made of the first few weeks of the season?
The players are taking a little bit of time to settle in. There were moments when Nottingham Forest produced some very exciting attacking football against West Bromwich Albion. They have hinted at what they might be capable of, but then there have been other games where they look like a team that is still trying to gel. When things start to go right for them, they look like they are going to be a very dangerous side indeed.
In which area have they looked strongest so far?
The final third. They’ve added the three Portuguese lads in Gil Dias, João Carvalho and Diogo Goncalves and all three fit into the 4-2-3-1 system well, playing behind the lone striker. They signed Algerian international Hillal Soudani as well, who also plays on the right side of that three. Matty Cash and Joe Lolley have played well so far, too. They have five or six players who can all slot into that three and really make Forest look a threat when they are in possession, playing with a bit of energy. That’s the area of the pitch where they look the strongest, by some distance.
Which player should Brentford fans keep an eye on?
Carvalho has stood out, for me. Forest spent €15m on him and while he has been up and down, he’s still trying to find his feet. When he does produce his best, he looks a real threat - we’ve seen some flashes of absolute brilliance from him.
What are you expecting from Brentford?
I’m expecting a very tough game! Brentford tend to do well against Forest. I know Forest won there last season, but that was a game that could have finished with almost any score. They play good football and that could work in Forest’s favour because they like to get the ball down as well. It always ends up being an absorbing, attacking, exciting game against Brentford and almost any outcome is possible.
How are Forest likely to set up at Griffin Park?
They will play a 4-2-3-1 formation where at least one of the defensive midfielders will sit deeper, allowing both full-backs to really bomb on. So, while some people will see it as being a defensive formation, it is anything but that. You end up with the two full-backs bombing on, the four attacking players pushing forward and one of the two holding midfielders getting up the pitch as well. Forest like to play higher up the pitch and hurt teams with their passing. They do have a lot of attacking width through the full-backs who really do play more like wingers half the time. When they are in full flow they are exciting to watch and when they lose possession, the midfielders put in a good shift to ensure they have defensive cover.
What’s your score prediction for the game?
Let’s go for a 2-2 draw.
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