Nottingham Forest vs Southampton – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Monday 8th May 2023
As part of our midweek Premier League predictions, we examine Southampton’s visit to Nottingham. Forest are better at home – can they win this relegation six-pointer? Free betting tips and more with our Nottingham Forest vs Southampton prediction.
Nottingham Forest vs Southampton Preview
With both sides in the middle of a relegation battle, Forest’s home form was deserting them until a shock 3-1 victory over Brighton brought them a massive three points and kept them in touch with Leeds United and Leicester City above them. Cooper’s men were leading until the final 10 minutes away at Brentford until goals from Ivan Toney and Jay Dasilva condemned them to a seventh consecutive away defeat and their 13th in the Premier League this season.
It has become something of a cliche at this point, but it really is Forest’s horrendous away form that is to blame for their current predicament. At home, they’ve been pretty solid, with six wins and six draws with a goal difference just on the right side of positive (+1).
With Forest yet to play Arsenal and with two further away fixtures this season, it’s imperative that they get a result here, and they would probably require all three points to go some way to securing their Premier League status next season. A win for Nottingham Forest would probably condemn Southampton to Championship football for the next campaign.
Southampton entered the break with a 1-0 lead on the back of an impressive first-half display against a strangely subdued Newcastle United side. What followed was complete domination on Newcastle United’s part, as Southampton completely collapsed and they were rather fortunate to escape with a 3-1 defeat. Of course, at this stage of the season, the margin of the defeat is less of a concern than the fact that they failed to pick up any points.
The Saints will most likely need to win at least three of their four remaining games including this one, and also hope that results elsewhere go their way. Their final two fixtures of the season are away to Brighton and at home to Liverpool – both teams with everything to play for in the European qualification stakes, and therefore it’s vital that they win here but also at home to Fulham the following week to give themselves any chance of survival.
Southampton are massive odds-on favourites for relegation, with the lowest price available at 1/20 and many bookmakers only offering 1/100. That said, miracles do happen in football, and Nottingham Forest are far from the strongest Premier League outfit they will have faced this season. Also, with Fulham seemingly not having much to play for next time out, perhaps they can at least battle bravely against those odds.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Colback, Scarpa
Will Not Play: Biancone, Boly, Henderson, McKenna, Richards, Williams, Wood
Might Not Play: Livramento, Perraud
Will Not Play: Larios, Salisu
Nottingham Forest vs Southampton Lineups (Predicted)
Nottingham Forest (3-4-2-1): Navas; Niakhate, Felipe, Worrall; Aurier, Lodi, Mangala, Danilo; Gibbs-White, Johnson; Awoniyi
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Bella-Kotchap, Lyanco; Ward-Prowse, Lavia; Alcaraz, Elyounoussi, A. Armstrong; Adams
Nottingham Forest vs Southampton Analysis
Forest Can Let Southampton Come to Them
Southampton are stuck in what we like to call no man’s land in tactical terms. They’re not creative enough to make a more expansive brand of football pay dividends in terms of generating clear chances, and they’re not solid enough to play a more reactive style of football. As you might expect from a team that has lost 22 out of 34 Premier League matches, they have one of the worst attacks to complement one of the worst defences.
This approach reared its ugly head against south coast rivals Bournemouth. We predicted 1-1 (final result 0-1), but we cautioned that if Southampton were too obsessed with controlling possession in the match that it would work against them and they’d probably lose. Following an even first half with possession split evenly, sure enough, Southampton tried to impose their possession-heavy game on Bournemouth and, sure enough, Bournemouth were the more dangerous side in the second half.
We don’t see this changing here. Yes, it’s admirable to attempt to build a more progressive side, and they do have a lot of young talent with that aim in mind. It’s clear that such a style of football has a higher ceiling than more rudimentary tactics. However, this is a relegation battle, and they’re not making their possession count. Against Newcastle, they had the worst of both worlds, in which they were outplayed and couldn’t retain the ball. They’ll have better luck with that against Forest, but it probably won’t matter.
Southampton Will Struggle With Nottingham Forest’s Directness
Southampton aren’t proficient at defending against teams in transition. Like many lesser sides who attempt to play on the front foot, they risk too much going forward that when it doesn’t work out for them, they’re giving up clear chances at the other end. This is a risk against a side like Forest, who, like Bournemouth, are capable of taking what they can get.
The Saints are relatively easy to play through in midfield. They have a talented midfield pair in Ward-Prowse and Lavia, but they would be better advised to play a third more defensive player in there or shift to a central defensive three. As it stands, Ward-Prowse and Lavia are both technically gifted players but they lack steel in midfield, and without the protection of extra numbers they get played through quickly.
In this sense, Southampton’s possession numbers under Selles start to tell a different story and it’s not a positive one. The reason they have high average possession in many recent games for a relegation-threatened side is that it’s more efficient for the opposition to attack quickly in order to overwhelm them.
This game suits Nottingham Forest more than it does Southampton. For one, despite a bit of a drop-off from the home side in recent weeks, Forest have been consistently difficult to play at home, particularly for a couple of months after the World Cup break where they were impressive.
Take Brighton’s recent visit for example. Brighton are a very capable team in possession, one of the better sides in the league. It mattered not on the day, as Forest were able to present a consistent threat on the break and they were able to do it without overly compromising their defensive solidity. Being compact in defence and fluid on the counter is a stylistic nightmare for this Southampton side, and it won’t surprise us to see them well beaten.
Nottingham Forest 2-0 Southampton
Nottingham Forest vs Southampton Betting Tip – Nottingham Forest Odds:
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