By Michael Callander
Nottingham Forest’s festive schedule could be a gift for Sabri Lamouchi’s side, as the Reds aim to arrest their historically awful December form.
They placed 18th in the Championship form table on December 31 last season, 23rd in 2017/18 and 19th in 2016/17. Coming off the back of a 1-0 loss at home to Cardiff City on Saturday, the Frenchman’s side sit ninth, based on their last six league games.
Forest travel to London on Friday as they face Millwall away, a test of any side’s mentality. If they can come away from the capital with all three points, as they did last time they travelled south (in a 4-0 victory over QPR), it could be the confidence boost they need before Tony Pulis’s Middlesbrough visit the City Ground next Tuesday.
The Boro find themselves 20th in the Championship at time of writing, and if you were to put money on how they are likely to approach the game, you probably wouldn’t go far wrong in suggesting they will look to frustrate Forest and sit behind the ball for much of proceedings.
Perhaps the Reds’ sternest test will come on Saturday December 14 as Garry Monk’s Sheffield Wednesday travel south. They currently sit ninth but are in a mixed run of form, so Forest will hope the Owls struggle to take anything from a home game against seventh-placed Brentford and a trip to Philip Cocu’s Derby County before they face Forest.
Lamouchi’s men travel to Huddersfield Town just before Christmas, who were beaten 5-2 at Bristol City on Saturday, and visit Hull City on Boxing Day. The Tigers overcame Forest 2-1 at the City Ground in late October through goals from Josh Magennis and Jarrod Bowen, despite the former being seeing red early in the second half.
Forest will also hope to avenge another defeat in December as they host Wigan Athletic on December 29. The Latics beat Forest 1-0 in October courtesy of Jamal Lowe’s first-half strike, but now find themselves mired in a relegation battle. This could be the perfect time for Forest to turn this fixture around as Wigan’s heads will be down but we could see a stubborn, backs-to-the-wall performance from Phil Cook’s side.
The Reds definitely have the ability to take at least 12 points from a possible 18 over the festive period and, when sides around them are guaranteed to drop points over Christmas, Forest will hope to truly cement their status as legitimate promotion contenders this season.