After 23 seasons outside of the Premier League, Nottingham Forest finally returned to the top flight and maintained their status last season, finishing 16th on 38 points. Keeping that in mind, what have you made of Forest’s journey?
Matt Davies: It was a long road back after relegation in 1999 and for most fans it felt like it might never happen. Any manager who led Forest to promotion would be a hero and he is certainly seen that way even if it has been a bit tricky of late. Last season was tough, but a real success considering all three promoted teams stayed up. Some big clubs went down instead.
Forest have been incredibly active within the three transfer windows that have gone by since their return to the Premier League last season — how sustainable is this transfer model for the football club?
MD: It’s not sustainable on the scale of signing 30 players in a season, but Forest have always been a club that is busy in the transfer market going back to 2012 when Fawaz Al Hasawi bought the club and ran it terribly. That policy has continued under Evangelos Marinakis and it hasn’t always worked to say the least, but it has largely been a success in the last two years.
Forest signed 11 players in the last window and in time they need to get that number down to around five, but the owner demands progress and puts money in, so there will always be business done.
What have Nottingham Forest fans made of the job that Steve Cooper has done thus far?
MD: Forest were bottom of the Championship when he took over and he immediately took them to promotion then kept them up. There wasn’t much more he could do, realistically. This season has been more tricky, especially drawing with Luton, but Forest are only three points shy of 11th place, which is a realistic goal. For the first time, Cooper is being questioned, but I still back him fully.
Aston Villa took four from a possible six points when these two sides met last season — what sort of match are you expecting to see at the City Ground on Sunday?
MD: I don’t think last season is particularly relevant as Gerrard was managing Villa when they came to the City Ground. Neither side was very good in a 1-1 draw. At Villa Park, it was early on for Emery and Forest were right in that game until they gifted Villa a goal in terrible fashion.
Villa are much better now under Emery and look a top six team, if not a top four one even. Forest have a great home record over the last year though and will give them a real game. The one problem is they are very short of attacking options due to injuries to Chris Wood, Divock Origi and Callum Hudson Odoi. On top of that, Taiwo Awoniyi might not be fit enough to start the game.
Which eleven players do you think Steve Cooper will select?
MD: Vlachodimos, Aurier, Boly, Murillo, Aina, Sangare, Mangala, Dominguez, Gibbs-White, Elanga, Awoniyi
Considering that Forest have yet to lose a league match at the City Ground this season, what is your prediction for the final score?
MD: I would back Forest to get something against anyone at home, especially if Awoniyi can play for an hour, 1-1.