Scouting Report: Forest v Arsenal

We kick off our EFL Cup campaign against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night and ahead of the game Michael Cox examines their strengths, dangermen and areas to target:

The manager

Philippe Montanier was a surprise appointment as Nottingham Forest manager this summer. The Frenchman is best known for his two-year spell with Real Sociedad, taking the Basque club to fourth place in 2012/13 - although his contract wasn’t renewed, meaning he didn’t get the opportunity to coach them in the Champions League.

He subsequently spent a two-and-a-half year spell with Rennes, guiding them to the French Cup final in 2014. So far, his reign at Forest has been notable for frequent changes of shape and personnel.

The formation

Montanier has generally used a 4-1-4-1 system, although his constant experimentation has seen both 4-2-3-1 and even 3-4-3 tried at various points.

The departure of star man Oliver Burke to RB Leipzig shortly before deadline day raised £13 million, but has caused Montanier tactical problems.


Attack: only one Championship side has scored more goals so far this season. Forest have dangerous forwards, in particular Britt Assombalonga, one of the liveliest strikers in the second tier, even if he’s struggled with injury in recent weeks. Apostelos Vellios is the alternative up front.


Pajtim Kasami

Pajtim Kasami


But the team is overwhelmingly attack-minded and creative. Pajtim Kasami and former Arsenal man Henri Lansbury are both excellent ball-players, while Hildeberto Pereira is a rampaging right-back.


Kasami has, slightly surprisingly, been fielded in Forest’s deepest midfield rule in recent weeks. The Swiss international, most famous for his stunning volley for Fulham against Crystal Palace three seasons ago, is much more of a deep-lying playmaker than a defensive midfielder, and should be closed down quickly to stop Forest building passing moves. 

Another former Gunner, Nicklas Bendtner, has made two substitute appearances since signing for Forest, and could make his full debut up front.

Areas to Target

Defence: only one Championship side has conceded more goals so far this season, and Forest are yet to keep a clean sheer under Montanier. Defenders have been pulled out of position too easily, particularly when the full-backs are high up the pitch, and there have been problems at set-pieces too.

Forest also have a poor disciplinary record this season, with two red cards already.


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