Nottingham Forest v Luton: Hapless Hatters to fall short

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Sunday's match-up between Nottingham Forest and struggling Luton.

Nottingham Forest v Luton | Sunday 19th January 2020, 12:00 | Sky Sports

We have a bonus Sunday lunchtime televised encounter from the Championship to cure any weekend boredom as Nottingham Forest versus Luton Town at the City Ground is a game which could potentially be anything. I say that because when Luton are involved, so are goals, but Forest are in good form and will expect a third home win in succession.

This match pits together two teams ultimately heading in opposite directions. Luton, as things stand, look destined to an instant return to League One and they’ve since slipped to the bottom of the table. Fans unrest towards Graeme Jones is beginning to increase as the games go by, and a run of eight without success hasn’t helped matters.

Forest beginning to motor again

Forest on the flip side are back on track after enduring quite a dismal Christmas period. A run of five without a three-pointer led to some concerns but they’ve since bounced back and only lost one of their past five, which was when Sabri Lamouchi heavily rotated his side for the 2-0 FA Cup away defeat to Chelsea.

They also experienced a run of one home win in five, which included the 4-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday, where all goals arrived before half-time. However, that is now a thing of the past and the Reds are looking like a well-oiled machine once more.

They hold one of the best defensive records in the league, and have balanced that out by having arguably the best striker in the form of Lewis Grabban, who has 14 league goals to his name so far.

As mentioned, they’ve won their last two at home, but the 3-2 win over Blackburn was a rarity in the sense of the amount of goals it contained. That is because Forest’s Championship home fixtures this season has averaged only 2.25 goals, with 7/12 and 10/12 featuring under 2.5 and under 3.5 goals respectively.

Hatters hopeless on the road

Luton on the other hand just can’t buy a win at this present moment. In Jones’ defence, he has stated that he needs his best players fit and available for them to be at their best, and that hasn’t been the case for a while now. Saying that however does little for the confidence for the rest of the squad, and the absence of Izzy Brown especially has been tough for them to deal with.

Another area where Luton have it tough is away from home. The less said about this the better for anyone with a Hatters persuasion as they’re toothless to say the least away from Kenilworth Road. They’ve lost 12/14 league games on their travels, losing their last ten on the road in all competitions. Within that run, they’ve failed to score on six occasions and conceded an average of 3.20, which is a not healthy at all.

Luton also struggling against the stronger sides in the league, as going into this weekend the only team in the top-half they’ve defeated is Bristol City, but away league wins came before the October schedule kicked in, and it’ll now start to become more of a mental issue that they’ve can’t get over.

Whilst they should relish playing at a ground old venue like the City Ground, it could be one of the last places they’d want to be on Sunday at noon.

The betting angle

Clearly Nottingham Forest are the team to side with on this occasion. Luton are god awful away and if anything Lamouchi will ensure his team are on it having conceded so late away at Reading last time out to drop what should have been two extra points.

Whilst Luton have been beaten quite heavily on the road of late, Forest aren’t the sort of team to really dish out many big beatings. They’re only scoring an average of 1.35 goals per game, and we’ve touched upon their home games often being low-scoring affairs.

A home win and under 3.5 goals is a worthy selection, and at a decent enough price of 8/5 (Coral).

The second play is another which keeps the hosts on our side, specifically Mr Grabban, who is scoring goals for fun this season. 15/4 (Bet365) on Grabban First Goalscorer is just an opportunity that is too good to turn down. The 32-year-old is the only player in the Forest squad to have had over 50 shots on goal this season, so if they’re to score first, he’s your best bet to get it.

Best Bets

Nottingham Forest v Luton – Nottingham Forest to win and Under 3.5 Goals (8/5 Coral)

Nottingham Forest v Luton – Lewis Grabban to score first (15/4 Bet365)

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