West Ham vs Nottingham Forest – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Saturday 25th February 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we take a look at Nottingham Forest’s visit to the London Stadium. West Ham have won just one in 10; Forest have been poor away from home; stalemate? Read on with our West Ham vs Nottingham Forest prediction.
West Ham vs Nottingham Forest Match Preview
Following a disappointing outing in their 2-0 away defeat to Spurs, West Ham find themselves occupying a relegation spot in 18th place, one point behind both Everton and Bournemouth. For a team used to European football of late and hoping to build towards earning a Europa League spot, this season has been a terrible disappointment domestically. We make the distinction between domestic and European football because the Hammers have won all six of the Europa Conference League group matches against Anderlecht, Steaua Bucharest and Silkeborg.
Perhaps it could have been seen initially as a function of the combination of hectic scheduling owing to both European football and an out-of-season World Cup, but Moyes’ men have won only one of their Premier League matches since the restart. There were some encouraging signs in back-to-back 1-1 draws with high-flying Newcastle and a Chelsea side who are admittedly struggling but still have plenty of talent at their disposal. Truthfully though, West Ham didn’t really look like getting anything at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, and this match against Nottingham Forest has the air of a must-win game about it for the Londoners.
Nottingham Forest have been vocal about their poor away form in the buildup to this clash, which is what we’ve alluded to in probably every single away preview we’ve covered involving Cooper’s men. There is an acknowledgement that the disparity between their good home form and terrible away form is far too wide, and they’d clearly like to rectify this as soon as possible in order to avoid being drawn into a relegation battle.
Following an excellent 1-1 home draw against Manchester City in which yes, Forest rode their luck at times but managed to generate a threat from their limited opportunities, the East Midlands side find themselves five points clear of their weekend opponents with 15 games remaining. While it must be acknowledged that Nottingham Forest have invested heavily in their playing squad to achieve this, they will feel that so far their season is on track. If they’re able to even moderately improve their away form while maintaining their more than decent home form, they’ll surely survive this campaign.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Paqueta, Zouma
Will Not Play: Cornet
Might Not Play: Lingard, Yates
Will Not Play: Aurier, Awoniyi, Biancone, Boly, Henderson, Kouyate, McKenna, Niakhate, Richards
West Ham vs Nottingham Forest Lineups (Predicted)
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Emerson, Aguerd, Ogbonna, Coufal; Rice, Soucek; Paqueta, Benrahma, Bowen; Antonio
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Navas; Lodi, Worrall, Felipe, Williams; Mangala, Freuler, Shelvey; Gibbs-White, Johnson, Wood
West Ham vs Nottingham Forest Analysis
West Ham’s (Relatively) Good Defensive Record
Normally, we wouldn’t be mentioning a defence which has participated in a poor Premier League campaign resulting in an 18th placing after 23 games played, but West Ham actually have the joint-seventh best defensive record in the division alongside Brighton. For reference, they’ve conceded one goal less than 6th placed Fulham, six less than 4th placed Spurs, one more than Manchester United, five more than Man City and six more than table-topping Arsenal.
Although football isn’t as simple as that, and it could very well be the case that West Ham’s relatively good defence record, when measured against the other sides around them, is a result of defensive tactics which stymie their attacking output. Nevertheless, it’s a solid foundation to build on for games such as this, where they face a Nottingham Forest side with only 18 goals in 23 matches, and worse, a paltry three goals in 11 away matches to show for their efforts.
While the Hammers have clearly struggled in front of goal in the Premier League this season, scoring just 19 times, they can more or less be relied upon to limit a side such as Forest to a goal or less, while giving up maybe a handful of shots on target but likely no more than that. The question is, are Forest clinical enough to take those chances? While Forest scored against Manchester City, they were a) at home and b) playing in a game with a radically different tactical dynamic. While we expect that West Ham will have most of the ball, this will likely be in the 55%-60% region rather than north of 70%.
Forest Would be Better Playing on the Break
It sounds strange that anybody would discourage a team from attempting to play a more expansive, possession-based brand of football, but we feel with Forest’s low goalscoring output and general lack of threat from open when playing away from home, their best chance of obtaining something from this match is to draw West Ham onto them before breaking at pace. While we’re certain that both teams will be acutely aware of that particular dynamic, it has worked to Forest’s benefit at home where they are a much bigger goal threat.
Forest had 50% of the possession away to Fulham last time out. That looks like a positive statistic until you consider that they generated one shot on target from 10 and an xG statistic of 0.63. Fulham were restricted a little to three shots on target and an xG of 1.52, but they’ve been far better at taking their chances this season and 2-0 didn’t flatter the hosts. As we touched on earlier, Fulham are a pretty decent team, particularly in attack, but they’re no better defensively than West Ham and if Forest take the same approach again, West Ham can close ranks, shut them out and release the likes of Benrahma, Bowen and Antonio into space.
Forest have been quite vocal recently about their need for an immediate improvement in their away form, but this is a deceptively tricky fixture for them to do anything about it. West Ham might be struggling for consistency in front of goal, but they’re more than capable of playing it tight on their own patch and making Forest pay for playing too expansively.
We believe that Forest will approach this match in much the same manner as they did the Fulham match. They could well be buoyed by the possession statistic, the completed passes being almost identical to their high-flying hosts that day, and in our opinion that would be a mistake. This Forest team appears to need to play on the break in order to maximise their potential, and we feel that Moyes will anticipate that approach and ensure that West Ham don’t overcommit either. We can envisage a scrappy war of attrition in which neither side looks brilliant, but the home side will probably make the breakthrough at some point.
West Ham 1-0 Nottingham Forest
West Ham vs Nottingham Forest Betting Tip – West Ham Odds:
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