Nottingham Forest and Leeds United are set to trade tackles at the City Ground on Sunday in their first Premier League encounter in the 21st century.
Both sides start this matchday agonisingly close to the relegation zone, but the Tricky Trees enjoy more comfort as they hold a four-point lead on 18th-placed Bournemouth.
Much of the credit for Forest’s sudden escape from the drop zone goes to their four-game unbeaten league start to the new calendar year (W2, D2), bookended by a 1-1 draw at the Cherries last time out.
Steve Cooper’s men have followed that result with back-to-back multi-goal margin defeats’ to nil’ against Manchester United in their Carabao Cup semi-final tie.
Following a first-leg 3-0 loss at home, Forest went down 2-0 at Old Trafford last weekend, so despite their decent Premier League form, confidence may not necessarily be high in the home camp.
Leeds enjoyed far better fortunes in cup duties than their hosts, as Jack Harrison, Junior Firpo and Luis Sinisterra inspired a commanding 3-1 FA Cup win at lower-league Accrington last Saturday.
However, navigating a routine round-four tie is perhaps the only comforting fact for under-pressure manager Jesse Marsch, who has overseen a troubling five-game league form after the resumption (D3, L2).
With the Whites’ last Premier League triumph dating back to early November, they should consider themselves lucky for starting this round a point clear of the drop zone.
Since a 3-2 loss to Fulham in mid-September, Forest have gone from strength to strength at home, going unbeaten in their last six Premier League outings at the City Ground (W3, D3).
Even though those six matches have fluctuated between wins and draws, the Tricky Trees are confident about extending their impressive home form against a Leeds side they’ve not lost to in any of their 12 top-flight home H2Hs (W7, D6).
On top of their morale-boosting H2H record, Cooper’s men have opened the scoring in eight of their ten home league fixtures this term, which can only bolster their morale.
Alongside Bournemouth and West Ham United, Leeds have managed a league joint-low five points on the road in the Premier League this term (W1, D2, L6) and are winless in their last three away league games (D1, L2).
Their only top-flight win on hostile turf was a 2-1 beating of Liverpool in October, yet Marsch’s men have conceded an average of two goals per game in three league matches away from home after that.
But for omen fans, Leeds have won all five of their away clashes against promoted clubs by an aggregate score of 14-3 since their return to the Premier League in 2020.
Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United
Nottingham Forest (4-3-1-2): Keylor Navas; Serge Aurier, Joe Worrall, Willy Boly, Renan Lodi; Danilo, Remo Freuler, Orel Mangala; Gustavo Scarpa; Brennan Johnson, Sam Surridge.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Illan Meslier; Luke Ayling, Maximilian Wober, Pascal Struijk, Junior Firpo; Tyler Adams, Marc Roca; Brenden Aaronson, Wilfried Gnonto, Jack Harrison; Patrick Bamford.
How to Watch?
Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United Prediction
Neither side has the critical edge in this fixture, but Forest’s six-game unbeaten league run at the City Ground promises good things for home fans.
Consistency has been a problem for Leeds, with Marsch’s side performing in patches throughout the season, especially on the road, so we cannot see them winning here.
While a draw appears to be the likeliest outcome, we back the Tricky Trees to pull off another vital win.
Nottingham Forest 2-1 Leeds United
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