Nottingham Forest 2023/24 Premier League Season Preview | The Hard Tackle

Having learned how to walk last season, Nottingham Forest will hope to run in the 2023/24 season.

Steve Cooper and Nottingham Forest proved several of their detractors wrong by securing survival in the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, extending their stay in the English top flight for at least one more season.

Having gone crazy in the transfer market since the summer of 2022, the time is now for the Tricky Trees to consolidate what has been a hard-fought seat at English football’s top table. Southampton, Leicester City and Leeds United proved last season that no team is good enough to go down, and Cooper will do well to instil that into his side.

Nottingham Forest ended their 2022/23 campaign in sixteenth spot, four points above the relegation zone. A run of three wins and two draws in their final six games certainly tipped the fortunes in their favour. They were also helped by the fact that the trio of Leeds United, Leicester and Southampton could not buy a win to save their lives.

Lightning rarely strikes twice and Leeds found that out the hard way in 2022/23 following their spectacular escape the season before. Unless Nottingham heeds that advice, it could prove to be a long season for them.

Embed from Getty Images

The likes of newly promoted Burnley and Sheffield United both play attractive football and have a clear philosophy, while Luton Town appear ready to give it their all. The trio will add to a roster of Premier League clubs, several of whom have strengthened considerably in the off-season.

The City Ground has been a fortress for Nottingham Forest, and they have had some spectacular results there such as the wins over Liverpool, Arsenal and Brighton. The Tricky Trees might have secured survival for another season, but their priority once again will be to avoid the drop.

After all, the false security brought about by a narrow escape has seen more than one side fall by the wayside. Any hopes Cooper and Co might have had of enjoying a relatively easier campaign will depend much on how many points they can take off the teams around them.

The Prelude

Evangelos Marinakis appears to have big ambitions for the club but there is a long way for them to go before they reach the same levels achieved in the 1980s under the legendary Brian Clough. Making incremental leaps appears the best foot forward and Nottingham will do well to follow in Brighton’s footsteps.

One major aspect that the club needs to improve on is their away form. While Nottingham picked up 30 points at the City Ground, they amassed a mere eight on the road. In fact, only Leeds United lost more away games than Nottingham in the league last season. Unless that record improves, they will struggle to pull away from the relegation dogfight and into the relative comfort of midtable security.

There were indications towards the end of the last campaign that Nottingham are getting their act together when it comes to away games. Hard-fought losses to Liverpool and Brentford were followed by draws away to Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Now that the team has had more time to gel, Cooper will hope to get more out of his players next season.

While Nottingham Forest were laid bare on several occasions, they picked up key wins over fellow relegation contenders, which in the end proved decisive. The double over Leeds United, and the home win over Leicester City and Southampton more or less serve as six-pointers coming to the final tally.

While their home form does deserve some praise, there is every chance that the novelty of the City Ground will have worn off for several top Premier League sides. They will be better prepared for the challenge the arena presents next time around. After all, even Britannia and Stoke eventually fell once their opponents came prepared.

Nottingham Forest’s squad is decent at best, and they will once again need to show the grit to secure Premier League survival. While their football can be pleasing to the eye at times, it needs to be supplemented by pragmatism and at times more courage to not play it safe.

Squad Update

Nottingham Forest have not had a whirlwind window as we have come to expect from them in recent times and their additions have been rather modest. Chris Wood made his loan stint permanent, while Manchester United starlet Anthony Elanga arrived at the City Ground earlier this window. While the duo adds numbers, they are not by any means names that will get fans going.

At the same time, Nottingham Forest have lost several players after their loan spells came to an end. This includes the likes of Dean Henderson, Keylor Navas and Renan Lodi among others. Given that the club have failed to bring in adequate replacements, one could question how prepared they are to challenge clubs who will have gotten used to them by now.

There are still a few weeks to go before the summer transfer window shuts and a new goalkeeper appears to be on the agenda. Manchester United’s Dean Henderson and Arsenal’s Matt Turner were both scouted with the latter eventually getting the nod. Time will tell whether he is an upgrade over Navas or Henderson.

Given the lack of new names, the onus will be on Nottingham to show better teamwork and use the momentum garnered from the end of the previous campaign to their advantage.

Key Fixtures

Nottingham Forests’s Premier League status was secured largely thanks to them picking up a total of 13 points from their eight games against the sides that finished below them. One could argue that while Nottingham Forest were far from convincing, there were worse sides in the league that handed them a massive advantage in the race to avoid relegation.

That being said, Nottingham Forest’s best shot at retaining their top-flight status once again lies in the ability to not just make the City Ground a fortress but also secure maximum points from the teams around them. The likes of Bournemouth and Everton are in the mix as well as the three newly-promoted teams.

Kicking off their campaign away from Arsenal is never easy but a strong showing at The Emirates could set the stage for building momentum. With Manchester United also set to welcome them in August, the game against Sheffield United at home is a must-win, lest they end the opening month without any points on the board.

Nottingham Forest 2023/24 Premier League Season Preview | The Hard Tackle
Nottingham Forest should once again make The City Ground into a fortress. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The task does not get any easier with Chelsea, Manchester City and Brentford all awaiting them in September. This makes the gameweek five clash against Burnley all the more important.

Nottingham Forest face Everton and Bournemouth at home in December while also travelling to the Molineux the same month. With Fulham also set to welcome them, December presents Cooper and Co with a golden opportunity to put points on the board. April will see Nottingham face off against Wolves, Everton and Fulham apart from Newcastle United and Manchester City. The first three games represent their best chances of securing points heading into May.

Nottingham Forest face two newly-promoted sides- Sheffield United and Burnley on Gameweek 36 and 38, potentially presenting them with a get-out-of-jail card in what should be a relegation dogfight.

Both games sandwich their final home clash of the campaign against Chelsea. Once can bet that the City Ground will be buzzing for that. It is fair to say that while the Tricky Trees face a difficult couple of opening months, their final couple of months will be far more accommodating.

Key Players

Morgan Gibbs-White

Eyebrows were raised when Nottingham Forest paid £40 million for the English youth international last summer. However, the club have been vindicated as the youngster is the driving force and beating heart of the team at this moment in time.

Capable of playing anywhere along the frontline, the 23-year-old is a dynamic presence in possession and can progress the ball well. He is also capable of taking a pop at goal and will make a difference if given the space to act. It is fair to say that as long as he is fit, Nottingham Forest have a chance of crafting opportunities from nothing and putting points on the board.

Taiwo Awoniyi

The former Liverpool youth sensation was highly rated while he was at Anfield but failed to secure a work permit. Now in the Red of Nottingham, he continues to show off his potential and scored some key goals for the club last season.

While Chris Wood will offer him competition, Awoniyi is a better-rounded player with a far more dynamic skill set and the ability to do the unexpected. He will be expected to lead the line again for Nottingham next season and continue to score key goals on a consistent basis. Often underrated, Awoniyi is a key component of Cooper’s side and makes a telling difference on the field when available.


Embed from Getty Images

The Brazilian proved to be an inspired addition to the Forest midfield last January and brought about some much-needed energy and dynamism to the middle of the park. Initially coming in as a holding midfielder, he has excelled in the number 8 role and will only get better with more playing time. Add to it his ability to pop up and score goals, it is easy to see why he is one of Forest’s best players.

Given that the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea need midfielders, it is surprising that neither side has gone all in on the 22-year-old. Forest have a gem on their hands in Danilo and the Samba star will once again be crucial as the season wears on. 

Season Expectations

One word- survival.

Despite the happy ending to the 2022/23 season and the good vibes surrounding the club right now, it is nos secret that Nottingham Forest have failed to add more quality to their roster this summer. This could come back to bite them if they fail to get off to a good start next season.

Steve Cooper will more or less be working with what he already had and an arguably worse goalkeeper.  Luton are favourites to go down while Wolves and Everton too have a chance of being sucked into the quagmire. Nottingham Forest are no different and need to build on the lessons they learned last year to keep the drop at bay.

One could argue that the Premier League as a whole is strong and Nottingham Forest’s home form could once again prove decisive. There is still time to strengthen but as it stands the Tricky Trees lack quality in abundance. While Forest will have their moments, the Hard Tackle believes their luck will finally catch up with them, and they will finish in the 18th spot. Relegated.

Leave Comment


Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.