Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 win over Leeds United is the focus of our latest Scout Notes piece.
The numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
FOREST ON A ROLL
Brennan Johnson’s (£5.6m) terrific first-half strike was the difference at The City Ground, as Nott’m Forest claimed an important 1-0 win over Leeds.
The in-form forward has now been involved in five goals in his last four appearances, scoring three and assisting two.
In that time, he ranks first among teammates for shots in the box (seven) and big chances (three).
“I am a little [surprised with my form]. I knew it was going to be a hard season and at times I found it really difficult but to get the goals for the team is massive and for myself it’s good for my confidence so hopefully it keeps continuing.” – Brennan Johnson
Nott’m Forest have had just 65 shots on target this season, the joint-fewest in the division, while only West Ham United are under-performing their expected goals (xG) by more (17 goals from 23.58 xG), but their ability to produce 1-0 wins is notable (this was their fifth of the season so far).
As a result, Nott’m Forest are now unbeaten in five Premier League games, with just one loss in eight.
“We’re building an identity, we’re building a team, we’ve been doing that from the summer so step-by-step.” – Steve Cooper
Keylor Navas (£4.5m), meanwhile, had some debut. Steve Cooper needed to bring in a new ‘keeper with Dean Henderson (£4.7m) injured and the former Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain number one made an instant impact, making four saves and earning two bonus points. He was also comfortable with the ball at his feet when Nott’m Forest tried to play out from the back.
“Everyone knows what he’s done in the game in terms of decorated years and how experienced he is, but he still wanted to show who he is today. We’ve had a great few days with him, he’s showed fantastic humility, he’s really trying to buy in to how we play and the surroundings of the club so I’ve only got positive things to say at the moment. We’re delighted in the dressing room and he’s quite composed in the corner thinking ‘I’ve done that before’.” – Steve Cooper on Keylor Navas
Wilfried Gnonto (£5.0m), who is owned by just under five per cent of managers inside the top 100k, was Leeds’ most dangerous player at The City Ground.
The Italian could have had a goal and assist in the first half and put up some decent underlying numbers.
He created five chances – more than any other player on the pitch – and also drilled a dangerous shot on target.
In fact, he was so good it forced Nott’m Forest into a half-time change, with Serge Aurier (4.6m) introduced, which in turn pushed Neco Williams (£3.9m) into midfield.
Above: Only Havertz has created more chances than Gnonto in his position from Gameweek 17 onwards
As for Leeds, they are entertaining on the eye but not clinical enough.
Here, they dominated the stats and played well in the first-half, but having mustered just two shots from inside the penalty area during the goalless draw with Brentford in Gameweek 21, created just 0.79 xG at The City Ground.
Not putting the ball in the net is proving to be a real problem (they have scored just four in their last six matches), especially with a trip to Old Trafford up next, the second part of their Gameweek 22 double-header.
Their away form is particularly worrying: no side has won fewer Premier League points on the road than Leeds this season (five), with their only victory coming at Liverpool in October.
“I feel like we were the better team. We were on top from the beginning and we created lots of chances. The first time down the pitch they get a goal. We are struggling to turn performances into results and we’ve been in this place for a while. It’s hard for me to accept and it’s frustrating. And I’ve got to find ways to change that feeling and find ways to get the results we think we deserve.
We lost discipline a little bit and guys started running all over the place. We didn’t stick to the tactical plan as we wanted to.” – Jesse Marsch
Nottingham Forest XI: Navas; Williams (Ayew 90), Boly, McKenna, Lodi; Danilo (Colback 45), Freuler, Mangala (Aurier 45); Gibbs-White; Johnson, Wood (Surridge 73)
Leeds United XI: Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Wober, Struijk (Firpo 67); Adams, Roca (McKennie 57); Sinisterra (Summerville 57), Harrison (Greenwood 83), Gnonto; Bamford (Rutter 67)