Nottingham Forest vs. Aston Villa Betting Preview: Back Underdog to Secure Result

Nottingham Forest vs. Aston Villa Betting Preview: Back Underdog to Secure Result article feature image

Visionhaus/Getty. Pictured: Serge Aurier.

Forest vs. Villa Odds

Forest Odds+270
Villa Odds+105
Over/Under2.5 (-110 / -110)
Day | TimeMonday | 3 p.m. ET
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For the second consecutive week, Nottingham Forest is the featured side on Monday Night Football in England as they host fellow Midlands side Aston Villa.

Both clubs have had a poor start to their 2022-23 campaign as Villa are sitting in 16th in the table and Forest are at the bottom in 20th.

The story of Nottingham Forest's season is all of the new signings they've made in the offseason, combined with the fact that many of them haven't really debuted for Steve Cooper's side to this point. Forest signed 22 new players via permanent signing or loan and the plan lacked a coherent strategy.

Despite the lack of a real plan, the performances have made some decent improvements in the last three matches. It just hasn't shown in the results because teams have taken chances really well against them.

Aston Villa's problems have come in attack, where Steven Gerrard's side has struggled mightily to create chances. It's a classic match of Villa's anemic attack against Forest's porous defense. Something has to give on Monday in the Midlands.

Nottingham Forest Performing Better Than Results Show

Forest have lost five consecutive matches and three of the losses came by multiple goals. But despite getting handled by Manchester City and Spurs — two of the best teams in the league — the performances against Fulham, Leicester and Bournemouth really weren't bad.

They've taken zero points from their last three matches but created 3.9 expected goals (xG) and conceded just 3.2 xGA. The problem is that while Forest scored four goals in those matches, the Trees have allowed 10 goals.

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson has always been a positive shot stopper in his career so it's not really a question about the shot stopping. Just look at some of the goals conceded against Bournemouth and Leicester — lots of long range finishes and deflections — and you see why Forest have underperformed so much defensively.

Forest has defended crosses well — they rank 13th in crosses allowed into the penalty area — which is a major source of attack for Aston Villa. The Villains rank seventh in crosses completed and preventing crosses from Lucas Digne is a major key for this defense.

The Trees have conceded plenty of volume in terms of shots but they've actually done a decent job of preventing big scoring chances too. Forest has conceded the 13th most big scoring chances in the league.

Aston Villa Displaying Dreadful Attack

I was higher than most on Aston Villa going into the season but the attack has not materialized. There's still plenty of time for them to solve it because the talent is there, but with each passing game I find myself downgrading this offense further and further.

Even in a win against Southampton two weeks ago, the goal came from a relatively flukey deflection off the crossbar and fell right to a Villa player. Last week, Villa played a man up for almost the entire second half against Leeds United and were unable to capitalize and win.

Villa are 19th in xGF this season in the league with just 6.8 xG created. Only Bournemouth are worse in attack. It's not even just that the schedule has been hard as they've only played two top six sides. If you subtract penalties from the numbers, there's just not much shot creation coming for this team.

Last season they were one of the least efficient teams in the league at turning final third possession into shots and chances.

I believed that would eventually sort itself out and the attack would improve. Even now, Villa is 11th in expected threat so there's not much of a higher ceiling for this attack in the future.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

If you just purely looked at the xG difference per 90 of these two clubs this season, Villa have been about a half goal better than Forest. But, add in the home field advantage and there's really not much to separate these two teams when they meet at the City Ground. 

Similar to Wolves when they went to Bournemouth with their anemic attack, Villa probably shouldn't be an even money road favorite against anyone in the Premier League given how poor the attack has been.

Forest's defensive metrics suggest they are due for a bit of positive regression and if Cooper decides to bulk up his defense and midfield by playing new signings like Serge Aurier and Remo Freuler, Forest could improve further.

While it's hard to trust either team at the moment for different reasons, I'll take Forest as the more desperate home side that has shown signs of life in attack in the last few matches by creating at least one xG in all of the last three.

I like Forest +0.5 at -130 or better.

The Pick: Forest +0.5 (-125)

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