Nottingham Forest vs Watford Preview: Away Fortunes to Change at the City Ground?

Watford's emphatic 4-1 win over Preston has fans feeling optimistic, and their unbeaten run has stretched to five games, but the Hornets' away form remains a cause of concern.

They travel to the City Ground with considerable confidence with Hosts Nottingham Forest languishing in 21st. Chris Hughton's takeover from Sabri Lamouchi hasn't been quite as effective as Vladimir Ivić's impact at Vicarage Road, but the talent in his squad is evident despite their poor form. 

Andre Gray has faced the brunt of the fanbase and the media following his second lockdown gathering in 5 months, and has also sustained an injury that will rule him out of the trip to Nottingham. The three isolating players remain as such, and are expected back next week. Tom Cleverley and Will Hughes are back training with the squad and could even feature in the matchday squad, but it is unlikely they'll be risked for longer than a few minutes. Adam Masina is also back with the group but his return is a couple of weeks away. 

Watford are winless on their travels since mid-October, and a victory tonight could see them reach the summit of the second tier for the first time since their relegation. Troy Deeney is back and fully fit, and appears to be back to his best also with a Man of the Match performance on Saturday. Ivić's change to a 4-at-the-back formation has been successful (so far) and you'd imagine he'll continue to build upon its triumph on the weekend. 

Other Injury News:

Marc Navarro (Out until at least the New Year)

Tom Dele-Bashiru (Surgery was successful, rehabilitating).

Isaac Success (No news, expected back late January/early February)

The Opposition

As previously mentioned, Nottingham Forest are already on their second head coach of the season, but Chris Hughton's start has been far from a "new manager bounce". The Reds have lost their last 3, granted to difficult opposition, and have failed to score in those games either. Lyle Taylor is their main attacking threat; the Montserrat forward has four goals to his name this season since his arrival from relegated Charlton Athletic, which equates to almost half of their league total this campaign. They also secured the services of Watford fan favourites (just kidding) Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter on loan. 

On paper, their squad is pretty impressive. Although Jack Colback failed to endear himself to Newcastle fans, his performances on loan at the City Ground were far better than on Tyneside and he was rewarded with a permanent contract. Unfortunately for fans of the former Sunderland midfielder, he misses out tonight. Brice Samba was a standout goalkeeper in the league last season too, and that might be why his side have let in only one more than 2nd place Bournemouth so far. Cyrus Christie's loan move from promoted Fulham has also encouraged the Forest Faithful. 

The former Brighton and Hove Albion Coach typically opts for a 4-2-3-1, or 4-4-1-1, though after its failure in the last 3 games, the Irishman could switch things up.

Forest are only just out of the relegation zone, and will need to turn around their fortunes in order to establish themselves higher in the league.

Head-to-Head

This is the first meeting between the two sides since an FA Cup tie in 2016. Odion Ighalo scraped the win late on to spare Watford's blushes to end a five match winless run.

Tonight's visitors' last defeat at the City Ground was in a thrilling 4-2 match which saw centre-half Gabriele Angella net twice. Former Hornet Darius Henderson scored against his former club. 

Players who have featured in both the red of Forest and the Yellow of Watford include Algerian midfielder Adlene Guedioura, his two time partner in crime Ben Watson, free kick specialist Lewis McGugan and Saturday's goalscorer Nathaniel Chalobah. 

Who's the Threat?

Nottingham Forest: Harry Arter

I doubt it'll go down well if this man scores the winner tonight. Often in the middle of drama when Watford have played Bournemouth in the past, once notably shouting "leave it!" behind Nathaniel Chalobah to uproar from the away fans, Harry Arter is a creative and experienced player in the middle of the park. If there's a scuffle in the game, expect Arter to be involved in some way.

Watford: João Pedro

The last Watford player to score the winner in an away game, João Pedro may be relied on to do the same tonight. The Brazilian has found himself in his more comfortable spot on the left of the attack, and is expected to excel when he runs at Christie this evening. If he gets the service, he'll no doubt succeed against the relegation struggling opposition.

 

Elliot's Match Prediction:

Although I'm slightly worried by our away form, I can't see us letting the points slip through our fingers. Forest are in a bad way at the moment both on and off the pitch, and with Watford 'clicking' in their new system, this is surely an away win. 

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Watford

Kick-Off: 19:45, the City Ground

Televised? Available on Hive Live, the Sky Red Button and iFollow.

Referee: David Webb

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