CHAMPIONSHIP GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Nottingham Forest v West Ham United – Sunday 29th August 2011 – 1.15 pm kick-off
Last time the sides met
West Ham United 3-2 Nottingham Forest (Sunday 30th January 2011)
Obinna (4, 42, 52 pen) Adebola (18), McGoldrick (40)
Two clubs steeped in tradition will fight for three points on Sunday afternoon in what promises to be a thrilling encounter at the City Ground. Nottingham Forest and West Ham United both believe that they deserve to be in the Premier League. Some would argue this to be true, as both have decorated histories. Forest have won European Cups under the legendary management of Brian Clough, whilst West Ham boast magnificent players that have donned the famous claret and blue strip. However, no club has the divine right to be in the Premier League, meaning both clubs will have to earn promotion the hard way.
Transfers In: Transfers Out:
Andy Reid (Blackpool) Nialle Rodney (Bradford City)
Jonathan Greening (Fulham) Mark Byrne (Barnet)
George Boateng (Skoda Xanthi) Kevin Wilson (Celtic)
Matt Derbyshire (Olympiacos) Nathan Tyson (Derby County)
Ishmael Miller (West Bromwich Albion) Paul McKenna (Hull City)
Dele Adebola (Hull City)
Julian Bennett (Sheffield Wednesday)
Robert Earnshaw (Cardiff City)
Nottingham Forest are a club that have massively underachieved since their relegation from the Premier League in 1999. They stooped even lower in 2005, becoming the first ever European Cup winning side to played in the third tier of English football. Colin Calderwood eventually guided them back into the Championship, yet it was former Derby manager Billy Davies who transformed Forest into play-off contenders. Unfortunately, Davies has failed in the play-offs more often than not, and after two consecutive semi-final appearances he was sacked in 2011. Former England manager Steve McClaren replaced him and will be more determined than ever to prove that he is still a good manager. The only way he can achieve that is to take this famous club back to the Premier League.
McClaren’s success at FC Twente was tarnished by his stint in Germany with Wolfsburg. They were nearly relegated despite possessing the likes of Edin Dzeko and Brazilian playmaker Diego within their ranks. However, he has managed to attract experienced Premier League performers such as Jonathan Greening, Matt Derbyshire, George Boateng and Andy Reid. Forest already had talented players such as Wales International Chris Gunter, midfielder Chris Cohen and top-scorer Lewis McGugan. Despite scoring spectacularly from long-range last season, it is very surprising that certain Premier League clubs have decided to look elsewhere. Perhaps Forest have warned off potential suitors with a hefty price tag, meaning the former England manager will be grateful should McGugan remain at the City Ground beyond the 31st August.
Forest go into the game on Sunday searching for their first home victory of the season in the league, having drawn with Barnsley and Leicester City. They’ve only managed a scrappy 1-0 win against an injury-hit Doncaster Rovers’ side. McClaren resisted making wholesale changes in their recent Carling Cup triumph at Wycombe on Tuesday. They swept the opposition aside with a convincing 4-1 victory and will be full of confidence, particularly after their late fight-back against the Foxes on Saturday afternoon. Whether they will be able to muster enough energy to defeat Championship favourites West Ham remains to be seen. Forest fans will be very disappointed if McClaren allows their progress in the Carling Cup to hinder their League form.
Expected Starting Line-Up
B.Moloney (RB) W.Morgan (CB) L.Chambers (CB) C.Gunter (LB)
L.McGugan (RM) G.Boateng (CM) J.Greening (CM) C.Cohen (LM)
I.Miller (ST) R.Findley (ST)
West Ham United
Transfers In: Transfers Out:
Abdoulaye Faye (Stoke City) Anthony Edgar (Yeovil Town)
Kevin Nolan (Newcastle United) Danny Gabbidon (QPR)
Matthew Taylor (Bolton Wanderers) Lars Jacobsen (Released)
Joey O’Brien (Bolton Wanderers) Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
John Carew (Aston Villa) Matthew Upson (Stoke City)
George McCartney (On loan from Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
Sunderland) Manuel Da Costa (Lokomotiv Moscow)
Thomas Hitzlsperger (Wolfsburg)
Radoslav Kovac (FC Basel)
Kieron Dyer (QPR)
Luis Boa Morte (Larissa)
Jordan Spence (On loan to Bristol City)
Oliver Lee (On loan to Dagenham & Redbridge)
Cristian Montano (On loan to Notts County)
Zavon Hines (Burnley)
Pablo Barrera (On loan to Real Zaragoza)
The players of West Ham United may be grateful that they are not playing at Upton Park this weekend, having lost two of their opening three fixtures at home. Their most recent home defeat at home to Aldershot Town in the Carling Cup was particularly embarrassing. Manager Sam Allardyce made 9 changes on Wednesday and paid the price in a lacklustre defeat that may significantly damage their confidence for Sunday’s game. Perversely, this defeat could be a blessing in disguise as another Cup run this season might prove to be a distraction.
Relegation from the Premier League last season was a bitter pill to swallow for the West Ham fans. Their side was packed with talented internationals that failed to deliver on many crucial occasions. Plenty of those players have departed ensuring a welcome relief to the owners, as the wages would not have been sustainable for the Championship. Yet it is the arrival of consistent Premier League performers such as Kevin Nolan and Matthew Taylor that have been pleasantly surprisingly for the fans. With Robert Green, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole still at the club, it is easy to see why the Hammers are being tipped for an instant return to the top flight.
Ignoring the Carling Cup defeat in midweek, the Hammers have had a reasonable start, acquiring 7 points from a possible 12. However their two away victories came at Doncaster and Watford, whilst they were rather fortunate to gain a point at home to Leeds United last Sunday. Allardyce will be relieved to have got through a tough schedule, with fixtures against Cardiff, Leeds and Forest almost out of the way. He has been impressed with young central defender James Tomkins, who has been commanding at the back. Whilst Joey O’Brien has performed admirably at right-back, considering his lack of first-team football in the past couple of years.
Expected Starting Line-Up
J.O’Brien (RB) J.Tomkins (CB) W.Reid (CB) G.McCartney (LB)
J.Faubert (RM) M.Noble (CM) S.Parker (CM) M.Taylor (LM)
Tactical Battle – Where the game might be won and lost
McClaren made two notable half-time changes on Saturday as he replaced the ineffective pairing of Matt Derbyshire and David McGoldrick with Ishmael Miller and Robbie Findley. The pair are expected to start on Sunday as both scored in the comprehensive victory at Wycombe in midweek. However, they will expect decent service from the flanks. Both Lewis McGugan and Chris Cohen possess excellent delivery, yet they are not natural wide players. Cohen, (a former West Ham graduate) played predominantly in central midfield under Billy Davies. Perhaps McClaren is trying to accommodate all of his star men, sacrificing a balanced system in the process. England supporters will not have forgotten how Steven Gerrard was wasted on the flanks.
The system that Allardyce plays away from home seems to suit them as they soak up pressure from the home side, whilst being clinical in front of goal. Congolese left-back Herita Ilunga is expected to be dropped as his mistakes have cost the Hammers points. Allardyce may opt for experienced left-back George McCartney despite a lack of match fitness. Alternatively, Matt Taylor can play left-back, ensuring Junior Stanislas starts on the left wing after his goal on Wednesday.
Forest were caught high up the pitch by Leicester’s pacy attack, and will have to be weary of the likes of Matt Taylor and Junior Stanislas. At the other end, Lewis McGugan is expected to target West Ham’s left back in the same way Max Gradel did on Sunday. Allardyce will hope that his midfield can deal with the trickery of creative Polish midfielder Radoslaw Majewski. If the Hammers are losing, expect Norweigian hitman John Carew to make an appearance from the bench. Taylor’s delivery has caused endless problems for defences and Forest will need to keep a close eye on Carew and Tomkins when faced with set pieces.
This game really is a difficult one to call. Both sides have a lot of quality in midfield and that position is ultimately where the game will be won and lost. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw with both sides having plenty of chances to win the game.
Ishmael Miller – 13/2 (First Goalscorer) – The former Manchester City striker has plenty of pace and power that can hurt the Hammers backline. James Tomkins and Winston Reid will have to be careful not to dive into tackles too quickly as he caused endless problems for Leicester last weekend.
Matt Taylor – 10/1 (Last Goalscorer) – Taylor is renowned for his exceptional delivery from set-pieces. He has been very unlucky not to score for his new club and it is surely a matter of time before he nets his first goal in claret and blue colours. It will be interesting to see if the Hammers win a penalty in this game, as he has scored crucial penalties for Portsmouth in the past. He will have to convince regular spot-taker Mark Noble that he can produce the goods from 12 yards.
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