Friday, May 24, 2024

Prediction: Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

Nottingham Forest’s impressive victory over Sheffield United has put them in a strong position to secure Premier League survival, with potentially just one point needed from their game against Chelsea, scheduled for Saturday at the City Ground. On the other hand, Chelsea’s dominant 5-0 win over West Ham United has kept them in control of their fate in the top-seven race.

Nottingham Forest

Once hailed as the shining star of Chelsea’s academy, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s journey in West London took an unexpected turn in the wrong direction. However, the English forward has found new life wearing the Forest jersey, delivering a standout performance at Bramall Lane last weekend.

Although Ben Brereton Diaz’s penalty gave the relegated Blades an early lead, Hudson-Odoi’s two well-executed goals, sandwiched between Ryan Yates’ debut Premier League goal, halted Forest’s four-game winless streak and ensured control of their destiny in the top flight.

With a three-point buffer over 18th-placed Luton Town and a six-point lead over Burnley in 19th, Forest can secure safety with a superior result this weekend, needing only a draw against Chelsea if Luton Town and Burnley lose to West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively.

Should Nuno Espirito Santo’s side stumble this weekend, the relegation battle could extend to the final matchweek, potentially culminating in a high-stakes encounter against Burnley. Additionally, Forest lament the loss of four points following the rejection of their appeal against a deduction.

Although Forest have only managed back-to-back Premier League victories three times since their return in 2022, their recent success streak began with a 3-1 away win against Newcastle on Boxing Day, followed by a home triumph over Manchester United with a score of 2-1.

Team News

Santo received positive news on the injury front ahead of the Sheffield United match, with Murillo, Willy Boly, Nicolas Dominguez, and Taiwo Awoniyi all declared fit for the matchday squad. Remarkably, all four players featured in the game.

The only setback for the home team this weekend is the absence of Neco Williams, who continues to recover from a thigh injury. However, Santo remains hopeful that Williams might be ready for the potentially crucial match against Burnley.

Awoniyi’s return to fitness poses a potential threat to Chris Wood’s position at the forefront of the Forest attack, while Hudson-Odoi, enjoying his most prolific Premier League season with seven goals, remains a potent force on the left wing.

Chelsea

Chelsea’s recent performances in May may not sit well with Forest supporters, as Mauricio Pochettino’s squad kicked off the month with a formidable display, scoring seven goals and conceding none in two London derbies.

Following a convincing 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge, the Blues delivered a crushing blow to David Moyes’ West Ham with a dominant 5-0 win over the Europa Conference League titleholders last weekend. Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke stood out as key players in this commanding performance.

Currently positioned seventh in the table, Chelsea trail Newcastle United by a mere two points. This standing could secure Europa Conference League qualification, particularly if Manchester United, who are behind only on goal difference, lose to Manchester City in the FA Cup final, allowing the second Europa League spot to be awarded to the sixth-placed team.

Despite their impressive displays at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have struggled to replicate their success on the road. They arrive at the City Ground without a win in their last five Premier League away matches and haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home in the top flight since October.

In their last 14 Premier League away fixtures, Chelsea have conceded at least one goal in each match. Also, after a string of seven consecutive victories against Forest from 1998 to 2020, they failed to secure a win in their last three encounters, suffering a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in September due to an Anthony Elanga goal.

Team News

Chelsea’s extensive injury concerns notably eased ahead of the clash with West Ham at Stamford Bridge, with Axel Disasi, Levi Colwill, Christopher Nkunku, Raheem Sterling, and Malo Gusto bolstering a previously youthful bench primarily composed of academy talents.

Nonetheless, Pochettino still faces challenges due to the absence of six injured players this weekend. Ben Chilwell (knee), Robert Sanchez (unspecified), Wesley Fofana (knee), Carney Chukwuemeka (knee), Romeo Lavia (thigh), and Enzo Fernandez (hernia) are all in the process of recovery. However, Reece James and Lesley Ugochukwu have returned to full training and stand a chance of being included in the squad.

Following the resounding victory last weekend, Pochettino is likely to make minimal changes to his lineup. However, he might opt for a more conventional right-back in Gusto over Trevoh Chalobah to handle the threat posed by an in-form Hudson-Odoi.

Conclusion

While Chelsea have showcased commendable performances at home, their away form in the latter part of the season has been less impressive. Forest’s dynamic attackers might find encouragement in Chelsea’s defensive record on away turf.

Expectations are high for an exciting encounter with goals aplenty, but the Blues should have enough in their locker to return from Nottingham victorious.

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 21/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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