Nottingham Forest vs Sunderland Preview: City Ground plays host to struggling duo

Nottingham Forest host Sunderland in the Championship this weekend with both sides looking out of form in recent weeks and in need of a momentum-boosting three points.

Forest have one just once in their last six games and slumped to a 3-0 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday last time out, while the Black Cats lost by the same scoreline against their Steel City neighbours Sheffield United.

Forest not pulling up any trees this season

After narrowly avoiding relegation at the end of last season, Forest are currently languishing in mid-table a total of 11 points above their opponents in the relegation zone.

Points are needed quickly if Mark Warburton's side are to avoid being dragged into danger, with one win in six leaving Forest looking over their shoulder at the bottom half of the Championship.

They have drawn just once this season - the lowest in the league - and have won five of their last seven at the City Ground so expect there to be goals with 10 scored or conceded at home in their last three outings.

Kieran Dowell has been Forest's main outlet this season in terms of scoring and creating, netting eight league goals while recording four assists, while former Sunderland striker Daryl Murphy's seven goals includes the winner in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light in September.

Warburton admitted this week that his side "let a packed City Ground down on Boxing Day" and added his side "have to demand better and work harder" against the Black Cats on Saturday.

Embed from Getty Images

Chris Coleman may now be realising the difficulty of the task at hand

Despite a promising start to his career as Sunderland manager, Chris Coleman will now be realising the severity of their situation with recent results showing exactly why the Black Cats are where they are.

Sunderland were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Birmingham City last weekend and were demolished on Boxing Day by an off-kilter Sheffield United side, sending them back into 22nd place and the relegation zone.

Their inconsistent performances have let them down recently, with an impressive 0-0 draw away to league leaders Wolves quickly forgotten in the wake of Boxing Day's performance.

Injuries continue to decimate Coleman's squad with 12-goal man Lewis Grabban the latest casualty, an absence which could force Sunderland into using young forwards Joel Asoro and Josh Maja more often than initially planned.

Coleman told that his side "need to put a performance in first and foremost because we definitely didn’t do that in the last game" against a Forest side who are "quite expansive in their set-up".

Team news

Matt Mills and former Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan are doubts after missing Forest's Boxing Day defeat, while Chris Cohen and Jack Hobbs both miss out due to injury.

Sunderland are still without a whole host of first-team players with Lamine Koné, Billy Jones, Duncan Watmore, Jonny Williams, Didier Ndong, Lee Cattermole and Jack Rodwell still not ready to return, while Grabban and Tyias Browning will miss out with fresh injuries.

Predicted line-ups

Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Smith; Traore, Mancienne, Worrall, Lichaj; Bridcutt, Osborn; Carayol, Dowell, Brereton; Murphy.

Sunderland (4-5-1): Ruiter; Oviedo, O'Shea, Wilson, Matthews; McGeady, Gooch, Honeyman, Gibson, McManaman; Vaughan.