Unai Emery spoke to Sky Sports: “I am focused on the present moment and I have seen the progress of the team. We will try to go and take this team to the next level. We are always evolving.”
“We proved ourselves at home, producing good work and getting the three points in every match we play. We are trying to replicate our performances at home into the away games by practising and getting the confidence. Today is a good opportunity to show we can manage 90 minutes both defensively and offensively to get our best performance. We have to be clinical up front and try to control the game.”
Talking of Aston Villa history, I still can’t unsee this picture of one of their former managers. Nor will you be able to.
How did we preview this game ahead of the weekend? Here’s Will Unwin.
Steve Cooper last tasted victory over two months ago when Nottingham Forest beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Since then they have drawn four and lost twice to leave them 16th in the table. Whisper it quietly but Cooper is under a little bit of pressure, with growing expectations and an expectant owner, Evangelos Marinakis, keen to avoid another relegation battle. Aston Villa are on a polar opposite run of form, having not lost since the first weekend of September, including five wins. Thankfully for Cooper, his teams often come up with big results for their manager when required and he will retain the full backing of a packed City Ground. The majority inside will be imploring Forest to relieve the strain on Cooper because if Forest do not get a result, his future could start to look precarious.
Three European Cups between these two clubs. And a whole lot of history since.
Aston Villa, unsurprisingly, opt for the same team that won away at Luton. Far more change for Forest, as there’s a debut for Odysseas Vlachodimos, after Matt Turner’s goof against Liverpool last week. Taiwo Awoniyi and Harry Toffolo are back and Willy Boly and Serge Aurier are both dropped.
The teamsNottingham Forest: Vlachodimos, Toffolo, Niakhate, Murillo, Aina, Dominguez, Mangala, Sangare, Gibbs-White, Awoniyi, Elanga. Subs: Turner, Tavares, Williams, Kouyate, Santos, Yates, Aurier, Danilo, Boly.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, McGinn, Kamara, Douglas Luiz, Zaniolo, Diaby, Watkins. Subs: Diego Carlos, Tielemans, Traore, Alex Moreno, Chambers, Lenglet, Olsen, Bailey, Dendoncker.
Referee: Jarred Gillett (Australia)
PreambleSteve Cooper is a gem of a manager. That much is agreed upon among Forest fans, and those beyond. Though it’s not as simple as that. Forest are not on a great run of form and the bottom three are within reachable distance. Even Sheffield United have now won a game, so Forest in 16th, four points ahead of the bottom four, need to start winning soon. Or else Steve Cooper is in lumber. Aston Villa are not ideal opposition to face, though at least they are not at Villa Park where Unai Emery’s team have dismembered just about everyone who turns off the M6 to face them. Their away record is seven points from five games. Cooper’s squad has been hit by injuries but still possess the talent to give Villa a scare or two. And at the City Ground is where the team achieved safety last season and Cooper embellished his reputation.
Kick-off at 2pm UK time. Join me.