Keinan Davis: A Villain in Red
keinan Davis shrugs off a challenge from Leicester City's Wilfried Ndidi / Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

When the January transfer window opened, Nottingham Forest fans were resolute in thinking that their spending must be focused on bolstering the striker department.

With names like Folarin Balogun, Adam Idah and Dwight Gayle being thrown around, you would have forgiven Forest fans for turning their noses up when Keinan Davis' name was put into the conversation as the favourite to be signed.

However, six games, two goals and one assist later, a lot of Reds supporters have fervently apologised to Davis, as his performances in the absence of Lewis Grabban and Lyle Taylor have left them purring.

Hold-up play

Initially when looking at Davis' career prior to his move to the City Ground, his return of just three league goals in 73 showings left fans doubting the impact the 23-year-old would have in attack. However, what Davis has brought to Forest aside from mere goals and assists is absolutely phenomenal.

Across his six appearances for the club so far, Davis has enjoyed a duel success rate of 50%. A number around 20% higher than Taylor or Grabban managed before his arrival. 

Standing at 6'3 and equipped with a well-built frame, Davis certainly knows how to use his size to his advantage, losing possession an average of just 6.1 times a game, an improvement over Grabban's 8.1 and Taylor's 7.3.

When it comes to mixing in playmaking with his hold-up play, Davis again excels, averaging 1.8 key passes a game and boasting a passing success rate of 80%.

The numbers that Davis has put up in regards to hold-up play are ones that have not been seen for a very long time at the City Ground. A strong, physically imposing striker who is good on the ball and deceivingly fast has provided Steve Cooper with a really fresh, hungry option with Grabban out until the end of the season.

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On the ground and in the air

The age-old phrase "lovely feet for a big man" comes to mind when thinking about Keenan Davis. He is fiendishly quick for a player of his size, and has displayed strong footwork and technical ability across his few games for the club.

With a dribble success rate of 90%, it becomes more apparent each game why fans were wrong to write off Davis so quickly, purely because of his goal-scoring past (or lack thereof). 

Davis was described by many Villa fan as a striker who had a lot of tools for the job, but wasn't particularly clinical. Summed up, it seems, by his Premier League shooting accuracy of 33% and tally of three big chances missed.

While the final third side of his game has not blossomed any issues as of yet, what he has been able to do outside of just scoring warrants belief that Davis will offer a really fresh spark for Forest. 

Even with three goal contributions in his last three games, his performances in games where he has not registered a contribution were still very impressive. His debut against Arsenal, for instance, is a precise example of this, as was his performance on Sunday afternoon against Leicester City.

Between those two games, Davis recorded two key passes, created a big chance, won over half of his aerial duels and recorded three successful take-on's. He may not have scored in either of those games, but his presence up front was certainly felt by the opposition defenders.

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No Grabban? No worries

Yes, the club do not have top-scorer Grabban until the end of the season and yes, it could become the case that a lack of goals ends up out-weighing what Davis brings to the game, in the eyes of the fans. But with Davis in the form he is in at the moment, there is nothing to fear.

Everything Forest fans have seen from Davis in these early days has left them wanting more, when before a ball was kicked, barely anyone seemed to want to see anything at all from him.

With Grabban out, Taylor gone and Sam Surridge arriving as back-up, the dynamic in strikers at Nottingham Forest has been changed by Davis entirely. What he brings to the attack is something Forest fans have rarely seen, and if these first few games are anything to go by, it is something that they will gladly be seeing a lot more of.

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