The games at the City Ground are coming thick and fast, and since I was so rubbish in previewing the Swansea City game I’m trying to be early for a change. The 3-1 win on Saturday leaves us in good spirits whilst our visitors had an unprofitable defeat at fierce rivals Leeds United to further dampen their spirits after a disappointing start to the season.
Much like Swansea, the Blades haven’t been travelling well this season – drawing at Swansea, losing at Hartlepool in the cup, losing at Middlesbrough before a win at Derby (doesn’t count, does it?) and finally as mentioned a defeat at Elland Road at the weekend. Even at home they seem to be alternating wins and losses.
With a number of fairly local but expensive fixtures on the Blades fixture list the usual healthy number of travelling fans from up the M1 might be a little smaller than we’ve become accustomed, of course factor in a run of inauspicious results and of course the inconvenience of a Tuesday night fixture and I suspect it’ll be another disappointing turnout from visiting fans within a week.
The visitors have Chris Morgan out injured, which should spare Dexter’s face at least, with Nosworthy likely to deputise, Kozluk has been an injury doubt along with longer term sicknotes Darius Henderson, Lee Williamson and Ryan France. Jamie Ward will miss the game through his two harsh yellow cards against Leeds (despite what Claridge might have thought!).
I’m not expecting much change of personnel from the Reds – at least not through injury – Wilson is of course fit, but Chambers impressed at the weekend. Earnshaw won’t be fit, and I’m not sure whether McGoldrick, despite some nice touches (and an assist) in his substitute cameo, is fit enough to tempt Billy into a start.
Having said that, Saturday’s victory was as much testament to Billy’s tactical nous as it was the excellent team performance – and he might want to try something different against rookie manager Gary Speed. I’ve given up trying to second-guess Billy’s teams – but I’m going to stick my neck on the line and suggest he’ll show faith with the same team that did so well against Swansea.
Always a bit cautious when it comes to feeling a bit more confident about Forest, because that’s when the kick to the gut tends to come, but it’s hard not to feel pretty positive about the result. The Blades will come here low on confidence, and we should be feeling pretty good – of course, life’s never that simple.
I’m expecting a cautious approach from the visitors who will want to avoid conceding early, and perhaps an aim to frustrate our forward play (which hasn’t proven that difficult at times!) so a patient approach will be needed from Forest and fans alike, but I can’t help but fancy Billy will have the tactics to outsmart Gary Speed in this encounter.
Fingers crossed than neither Billy Davies or the squad are feeling nearly as complacent as I just sounded, reading that back!! Inexperienced manager or not, and injuries or not, the Blades will pose a strong test for us and whilst I’m confident we can win, it won’t be easy and we’ll need to continue our recent high levels of performance.
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