Can Nottingham Forest win the Championship?

by admin

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The Manchester derby aside, arguably the most eagerly anticipated fixture of the weekend will be at Loftus Road where this season’s Championship pace-setters QPR welcome in-form Nottingham Forest. The Reds have rocketed up the table in recent weeks and now have the league leaders and a place in the Premier League firmly in their sights.

After a slow start to the current campaign in which they failed to muster a solitary win until mid-September, Billy Davies’ side have gradually re-discovered the form which earned them a spot in last season’s play-offs. Saturday’s victory over Watford was their sixth on the bounce – remarkably all by a single goal – and propelled them into the automatic promotion places for the first time this season.

An unbeaten start to 2011 has elevated Forest eight places and to within five points of top spot. 10 points separate the top six teams and with two games in hand over most of their promotion rivals, there is no surprise some are now backing the Reds to be the best-placed challengers to wrestle the title away from QPR’s grasp.

Still yet to taste defeat on their own patch in 2010/11, Forest’s rise up the table is largely thanks to a watertight rearguard which boasts the second best defensive record in the division. In the shape of ex-Ranger Lee Camp, they have one of the best goalkeepers at this level while Lewis McGugan has been the stand-out performer with 11 goals from midfield.

If there is any criticism, Robert Earnshaw will surely have expected to have bagged more than the measly 5 goals to his name this season – still some way short of the 17 he notched last year. But even he can do no wrong with the home faithful right now after the much-travelled Welshman went head-over-heels (quite literally) after netting three times in Forest’s comprehensive league double over their old adversaries from Pride Park.

Bragging rights aside, supporters at the City Ground will know they now face their ultimate test against the league leaders, who have steadied their own ship after a stuttering start to 2011. Neil Warnock’s men won just one of their five games in January but back-to-back victories mean the Rs are still odds-on favourites to lift the Championship trophy come the final reckoning in May.

The trip to West London could well prove to be a defining moment in this season’s title race and three points for the visitors is sure to leave QPR looking nervously over their shoulders as the season approaches its final furlong.

After running out of steam in the play-offs last season, do Forest have enough in their tank to go all the way this time around?

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  • Husky Red

    Not only are forest unbeaten in the league at home in 2010/11, they are unbeaten since September 2009 – 18 months (34 games).

    However, in perspective Forest have exactly the same number of points as they did after this number of games last season. The difference is that there are no teams with the dominance of Newcastle and West Brom this year.

    Three months ago we were hoping rather than expecting, to get into the playoffs, but now we only need just over a point a game for the rest of the season to guarantee this.

    Despite the amazing run, it is hard to see the rest of the season continuing without a wobble, and the league is tight enough to make this potentially fatal to the chances of automatic promotion.

    Sunday will be a good test, but the more telling issue is how many points each team drop against the other sides they each play in the weeks ahead.

    I dont think any Forest fans are counting their chickens before they are well and truly hatched on May 5th.

  • Andy Watkins

    I was aware of the home record but what about the 4-3 defeat to Blackpool in the play-offs? Not in the standard 46-game league but a defeat at the City Ground all the same (obviously not to everyone who keeps going on about the unbeaten record though!)

    As usual the Championship is almost impossible to predict and it’s quite possible there will be a completely different team vying for 2nd spot in a few weeks. I always expected Forest to be challenging up there, just surprised it took them so long to get into full swing. A few more hard-fought 1-0 wins could do the trick though.

  • Barry Pearce

    The 4-3 defeat was a blip and all 4 of their goals were scored by loan players, this may not matter to others but to me it makes no sense that you can get promoted on the back of other teams players!

    I’m not sure we have enough in the tank to keep up the push for automatic promotion but I think a play off place is a certainty. Whether we make a mess of it as we have in our three previous attempts I don’t know.

  • Mat

    Andy, we’re all too aware of the Blackpool result, but Husky Red and the rest of us are careful to state we are “unbeaten at home in 34 league games”. Playoffs are not part of the regulation 46 league games so don’t count. Still, even if you said we had lost 1 in 35 at the City Ground, that remains a fairly impressive record!

  • Tom

    QPR are getting found out & peaked 2 early, league is in the bag

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