Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Robins attempt to close the gap on the top two against homesick Reds

Bristol City will be looking to continue their recent good run of form in The Championship as they take on Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon.

Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Robins attempt to close the gap on the top two against homesick Reds
Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Can the Robins close the gap on the top two against home sick Reds? (picture: Getty Images / Dan Istitene)

Bristol City will be looking to continue their recent good run of form in The Championship as they take on Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon. 

The Robins picked up another impressive result last time out as they beat fellow promotion contenders Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane courtesy of a late winner from Aden Flint. They will be desperate to close the gap on the top two with another win in this match. 

As for Forest, they were able to get back to winning ways as they beat Bolton Wanderers 3-2 at The City Ground. It certainly was not the best performance from the Reds but was a much-needed result after two consecutive defeats. 

How they've fared so far

Lee Johnson's side have massively improved this season and are now serious contenders for promotion after only just managing to survive relegation to League One last season. They are currently sat in third place in the Championship table, seven points clear of seventh just four points off Cardiff City in second. It would therefore be a huge surprise if the Robins were to finish outside of the play-off places come next May. 

There are many reasons behind the Robins' recent success. They have a number of talented attacking players such as Bobby Reid and Jamie Paterson who have both been influential in recent weeks. Flint's presence is also having a huge impact on the pitch for Johnson's side both defensively and offensively. Flint is without doubt among the best centre-backs in the division after coming so close to leaving Ashton Gate during the summer. 

One thing that has been forgotten due to the Robins' recent success is that Johnson is having to deal with a very lengthy injury list. Korey Smith was added to that list in last weekend's game following John Fleck's strong challenge. This makes the run of form that Johnson's side are currently on even more impressive and when some of their absentees start to return, they are only going to get stronger in the New Year. 

As for Forest, it has been a season of progression both on and off the pitch. After the five-year tenure of Fawaz Al-Hasawi, it was vital that new owner Evangelos Marinakis stabilised matters behind the scenes and allowed Mark Warburton to focus on the playing side. This has started to pay dividends but this season is still very much seen as a transition season by most people connected with the club. 

The Reds have one of the best home records in the Championship in 2017 but it is their dismal away form that sees them currently sat seven points off the play-off places. They have won three away matches this season and despite the fact this is already better than the two they achieved in the whole of last season it is still not good enough if the Reds are aiming to finish in the top six come next May. 

Warburton has already revealed that plans for the January transfer window started weeks ago. He feels that the Reds are in need of a new goalkeeper, centre-back, midfielder and another forward in January to help push them towards the play-offs in the second-half of the campaign. However, some players may have to depart from the City Ground in order for this to be possible. 

Last time they met 

The Robins last played Forest in The Championship in a 1-0 defeat at The City Ground in January. Ben Osborn's superb free-kick gave new manager Gary Brazil a winning start as Forest boss after protests against owner Al-Hasawi took place outside the ground before the match. 

However, the Robins did get the better of Forest the last time the two sides met at Ashton Gate last October. Apostolos Vellios had given Forest the lead in the first-half but second-half goals from Tammy Abraham and Jamie Paterson turned the game on it's head and secured the Robins all three points. 

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Team news

Johnson continues to deal with a very lengthy injury list at Ashton Gate with the likes of Gary O'Neil, Ivan Lucic, Callum O'Dowda, Eros Pisano, Jens Hegeler and others all sidelined. However, Johnson did have some positive injury news in regards to record signing Famara Diedhiou who he hopes could return to action in early January. 

As for Forest, they will be without the likes of Jack Hobbs, Chris Cohen and Danny Fox as they continue to recover from long-term injuries. However, apart from that, Warburton has a fairly healthy squad to choose from. 18-year-old striker Ben Brereton will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up following his winning goal last weekend.