Premier League Season Preview | Nottingham Forest Betting Breakdown
Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty. Pictured: Serge Aurier.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Here is a look at Nottingham Forest.
Nottingham Forest returned to the Premier League and took a unique approach trying to stay in the league. The Trees signed 29 players between the summer and winter transfer window and it worked well enough to remain in the Premier League for a second season.
Most of the transfers didn’t really add a ton of value to the Forest squad as a whole, but there were enough hits to keep them in the PL. You also can’t discuss Forest’s season without mentioning the positive variance — their underlying xG difference was among the worst in the league — but the Trees won enough at the City Ground to be relatively safe in the final couple weeks.
The moves this summer don’t offer a ton of optimism for them in the upcoming season. Forest notably signed American goalkeeper Matt Turner, who is a plus shot stopper and will compete for the starting job. They still have Dean Henderson, who had a down year last year in his goalkeeping. Keylor Navas departed the club, but the underlying post-shot xG metrics showed him to be a net negative in shot stopping in his time there.
The biggest question for Forest is up top with Taiwo Awoniyi. They kept playing Brennan Johnson and didn’t get much forward production from him last year, but Awoniyi gave them some really good minutes in 2022-23 and could be the key to fighting off relegation yet again.
Awoniyi scored 16 goals in 2021-22 with Union Berlin, which earned him the move up to the Premier League. He only played 15 90s last season, but scored 10 goals. There’s some air in the numbers because he only had 6.6 xG, but he also produced a respectable 0.42 xG per 90 in his minutes.
Most of his production also came at the very end of the season and he is unlikely to start against Arsenal on Saturday when the Premier League kicks off as he recovers from injury. Forest have to be better on the road this year too. There’s nowhere to go but up for their away form — eight points from 19 matches and a -17.7 xGD — will make it quite difficult to stay up.
The Trees signed intriguing Manchester United wide forward prospect Anthony Elanga, who would be an upgrade over the Johnson minutes if he takes some of them over. They also added Chris Wood, who has not produced in the Premier League at all for two years now.
The argument for the worst non-promoted team in the league is a really close one. You can make a case for Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, two teams that most didn’t expect to stay up last year. Wolves summer transfer window and managerial chaos has dragged them down into that race, and many others see Everton and Fulham in that mix as well.
My power ratings have the worst team as Wolves because of the loss of Neves, but Forest are the next team and the gap isn’t particularly big between them. The Trees haven’t done much at all to address the fact that they conceded the second-most xGA last year — and most of any non-relegated team.
Forest did pile up a lot of negative xGD in a handful of blowouts, which you could spin into not being that relevant for the relegation picture because matches against the top six are unlikely to decide the Trees' fate this year.
There’s also the opportunity to go spend more money to make real improvements — which the club has shown it will try to do. Forest will be fun to back in some home underdog spots, but I remain skeptical on them really improving given the talent level and summer transfer window.
Given that I’m relatively high on the three teams around them to not be relegated — Everton, Burnley and Bournemouth, Forest are likely to be in a fight for survival and at +250 they are worth a bet to go down.
The Pick: Nottingham Forest to be relegated (+250 via bet365)