Nottingham Forest will need to stay consistent in the style of play that led to their first Premier League win of the season against West Ham United if they are to overcome Frank Lampard's struggling Everton side this Saturday at Goodison Park.
Following the 1-0 win at The City Ground against the Hammers, the Reds have signed three more players to their new look top flight side. So many players have been signed that the club could field a full team of 11 new signings.
Everton are looking for their first three points of the season as Lampard looks to steer the Toffees away from the drop zone after their 16th place finish last year, their lowest finish since the 2003/2004 season when David Moyes was manager.
Impressive new signings
After their first win of the season the excitement continued for the midlands club as they further strengthened their ranks by the signing of midfielders Cheikhou Kouyate from Crystal Palace, Remo Freuler from Atalanta and Emmanuel Dennis from relegated Watford.
Freuler and Kouyate can bolster the midfield options for Forest. Freuler has an impressive 85.8% pass completion rate according to FbRef in the 2021/22 season creating 2.28 shot creating actions per 90.
Kouyate adds a more defensive option to an already strong Forest defence. He ranked second in the Palace side last season with 38 interceptions and third in the side for tackles with 52. He also brings much needed Premier League experience for a newly promoted team, a quality which may prove vital come the end of the season.
However, most troubling for Everton will be the signing of Dennis from Watford. He scored 10 goals for a poor attacking side last season and added a further six assists. Those ten goals are double Everton's 2 top scorers last season who only amassed five each; ignoring the goals from Richarlison who left for Tottenham. Dennis is expected to pose problems for Lampard's back line which has failed to gain a clean sheet in the league since the 11th of May. His signing could prove vital for Forest and give them a cutting edge in a game which they need to win if they are to improve their chances of survival. Goals are something Everton are missing at the moment as they play four wingers in attacking roles due to the injury to Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Recent games show signs of improvement
Against Newcastle, the Reds looked like a Championship side who hadn't gelled or acclimatised to the higher standards of the top flight. They struggled to gain the ball, retain possession, create chances or complete successful passes in the opposition half.
This changed dramatically against West Ham last weekend as they upped their possession by nearly 10%, increased the number of crosses made by 11 and had six shots on target compared to the zero they had at St James' Park.
They were also resolute in defence and boss Steve Cooper praised their defensive resilience in the second half as the Irons came into the game.
In the new look midfield, Orel Mangala and Lewis O'Brien worked well as a pair. When one went on a forward thinking move the other was at the back to cut off any counter attack. At times they were stretched but as they covered so much ground they cut out many opposition passes and forced the Irons into areas on the pitch they didn't want to be in.
The energy this impressive and organised pair have in abundance may be too much for Everton to handle across the 90 minutes.
Yet, Cooper's side did have some luck against the Hammers who hit the woodwork twice, had a goal disallowed and failed to score from a penalty. Whilst Forest did give away chances I believe any given to Everton this weekend will not be capitalised upon these chances West Ham cost them the game.
A positive acquisition
Neco Williams was the poster boy for showing off their defensive prowess last weekend, he had nine completed duels and six tackles. With only 40 goals conceded last season (the second best in the league) and with Williams and goalkeeper Dean Henderson hitting sublime form, the lacklustre attackers of Everton may struggle to break down the defensively determined Forest.
Williams' statistics are impressive, he had the most crosses, cleared off the line what would have been a certain West Ham goal and had the most touches on the pitch (74). His impact at the back and going forward is something the Toffees may struggle to cope with.
The final score prediction
Ultimately, I predict this to be the Reds first away win of the season ending 0-2. Goodison Park may have been a part of what saved Everton from relegation last year but their lack of an out and out striker coupled with Forest's new signings and confident performance last week, their strong defensive capabilities and Everton being in a poor run of form gives me little hope in the Toffees gaining their first win of the season in game-week three.