Swansea City could crash the top three of the Championship this weekend if they manage to get a win at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
The visitors are currently fourth in the table with 23 points from 13 games, a tally that leaves them four points off the top and one point behind Bristol City in third place. Forest are much further down the table in 20th place with only 12 points from their 13 games.
The appointment of Chris Hughton last month resulted in a slight upturn in Forest fortunes with the new boss starting victoriously away to Blackburn Rovers. Forest went unbeaten in five of the following eight games, but only two of those games were wins for the Reds. Crucially, Forest registered each victory at the City Ground, where they are unbeaten – a run of four games – since Hughton took charge. Three of those four games featured fewer than three goals. Attacker Lyle Taylor has been a star of this run, the 30-year-old scoring four times in his last three home appearances.
Hughton’s opposite number, Steve Cooper, has earmarked himself as one of Britain’s best up-and-coming coaches since taking charge of the Swans in 2019.
Following a modest playing career in the Welsh domestic leagues, Cooper coached many high-quality youth sides in England, including the U17 teams of Liverpool and the national side. The latter role saw him guide the likes of Phil Foden and Rhian Brewster to the U17 World Cup in 2017. Brewster, the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals, would later link up with Cooper again when he joined Swansea on loan last season. It was a successful temporary spell with Brewster scoring ten goals in 20 league games. He helped Swansea make it to the Championship play-offs at the expense of Forest, who missed out on goal difference.
The pain of watching another club advance in their place will be fresh in the minds of Forest’s players for this encounter. The home side has an excellent recent record in fixtures against Swansea, a five-game unbeaten streak meaning that Swansea’s last win over Forest was in 2011. Three of those five meetings featured fewer than three goals.
A patchy run of form is threatening to take away Swansea’s early-season momentum. They have failed to win three of their last four league matches. Away from home, the streak is longer with four games passing since their most recent triumph on the road. Only Middlesbrough – with six goals conceded in 13 games – have a better defensive record than Swansea, who have only let in eight this season. This strong record at the back is a big reason why Swansea’s matches tend to be low-scoring. There have been fewer than three goals in their last eight Championship games. Couple this with the fact that eight of Forest’s last nine matches have also featured fewer than three goals and the bet to make on this contest becomes obvious.
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