Middlesbrough v Nottingham Forest | Monday 2nd March 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Your Monday viewing comes from the Championship in the form of Middlesbrough against Nottingham Forest. Boro aren’t going anywhere fast and would go anything for three points right now, whilst Forest resumed winning ways away to Cardiff City in midweek.
Earlier in the season, Middlesbrough earned a creditable 1-1 draw at the City Ground, but had momentum going into that when winning two of the previous three. Now, it is 11 without success in league and cup for Jonathan Woodgate’s side. It is two wins, two draws and two losses over Forest’s last six, but getting the job done at Cardiff is the type of away day blueprint they’d love to replicate on this occasion.
Boro struggling for goals
Sure, going 11 without a win is clearly a bad sign for Middlesbrough. Another worry for Woodgate on Teesside is that they’ve not scored a goal for three games running. They’ve lost them all 1-0, which including at home to Leeds, and also to relegation rivals Luton and Barnsley. It is therefore no great shock seeing Middlesbrough are the lowest scorers in the Championship.
Woodgate is once again in a habit of changing his team, with it becoming quite apparent that he doesn’t know his strongest eleven. It is natural to make changes to try and halt losing momentum, but on the flip side it is making it hard for any eleven to really settle down into a rhythm.
We’ve said how they find it hard for goals. Ashley Fletcher is their top scorer with eight, so seeing him go off injured in the Leeds defeat is yet further agony for MFC. It remains to be seen if he’ll be fit. It may open the door for Britt Assombalonga to come back in, but he hasn’t looked anywhere like his usual self this season, with injuries playing havoc with his campaign, too.
Something all Forest fans will be hoping for is boss Sabri Lamouchi to resist the temptation to make some changes for this team. They play on Monday night and then again next Friday, and that may come into his thinking. Losing at home to Charlton recently when rotating heavily will also be in his mind as well, so at most he might make one or two alterations in midfield/attack.
There is still every chance that this could be a memorable season for Forest. Getting wins at places like the Riverside Stadium against a desperate yet out of sort’s opponent is really the bedrock for success at this level. This team have been much improved on the road compared to recent seasons. Eight away victories is good going, and the fact five of them came by a one goal margin suggests good game management.
The first goal is key in any game but that is especially the case for Nottingham Forest. They’ve won 14 out of 19 when doing so in league action, and seven of nine occasions away. This Forest side are conceding an average of just below one goal every game,
so for all the offensive talent they have with the likes of Lewis Grabban, Sammy Ameobi, Joe Lolley and Tiago Silva, the likes of Joe Worrall and Ben Watson deserves big credit for what they do defensively.
The betting angle
If you are backing Middlesbrough to win here then it can only be from the viewpoint of them really needing to get a win. Forest don’t necessarily need a win in one sense, but they’re battling for automatic promotion so every point is vital for them. Rivals are playing on Saturday beforehand so Boro could even be in the relegation zone before kick-off.
I do picture this as the type of game where Forest ‘do a job’ on Middlesbrough. A 1-0 away win would not surprise me, but I can still see Boro creating some chances, especially if Forest do indeed sit back if they take an early lead for example.
I do like Nottingham Forest to Win by a One Goal Margin at 39/11 (SportNation). This selection has paid off across 11 of their 16 Championship victories this season. This has also been the case in 10 of Boro’s 14 league losses, too. One thing is for sure, this should be a tight game, but Forest to just do enough on the night.
Middlesbrough v Nottingham Forest – Nottingham Forest to win by exactly one goal (39/11 SportNation)