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Preview: Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest – prediction, team news, line-ups

Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure at Chelsea is picking up a head of steam as Nottingham Forest land at Stamford Bridge on Saturday for the ultimate Premier League matchday ahead of the international break.

Following a two-game winless start to his third managerial stint on English soil, the Argentine finally had a sweat taste of victory last weekend as the Blues thumped newcomers Luton Town 3-0.

Raheem Sterling’s brace, aided by Nicolas Jackson’s first Premier League goal, fired Chelsea to a morale-boosting win, snapping their eight-game winless league run in west London (D5, L3).

Pochettino’s mixed start to his managerial career in the capital casts doubt on our Chelsea 2023/24 season preview. But we still expect the Blues to be relevant in a keenly-contested European race. 

Enzo Fernandez took the spotlight on Wednesday as Chelsea came from behind to beat fourth-tier AFC Wimbledon 2-1 in midweek League Cup action, setting themselves up nicely for this encounter.

Visiting Forest experienced contrasting fortunes in the League Cup, going down 1-0 to newly-promoted Burnley at the City Ground, continuing their woeful form at the start of the new campaign.

Except for a late 2-1 home win over Sheffield United on matchday two, the Tricky Trees have lost their remaining two Premier League outings in 2023/24, suggesting our Forest season preview is on point.

Steven Cooper’s side squandered an early 2-0 lead in a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at Manchester United last weekend.

Match Preview

The aforementioned triumph over Luton marked Chelsea’s first Premier League clean sheet at the Bridge since a goalless draw against Liverpool in early April.

However, the Blues cannot take anything for granted after drawing both top-flight league encounters against Forest last term, both of which saw the visiting side take a 1-0 half-time lead.

Those stalemates form part of Chelsea’s eye-catching nine-game unbeaten run against the Tricky Trees in all competitions (W7, D2), with their last H2H loss dating back to 1997.

It’s also worth noting that the Blues netted at least twice in eight of those nine meetings, suggesting Pochettino’s refreshed frontline could have another field day.

Back-to-back Premier League defeats on the road at the start of the new season have maintained Forest’s ominous-looking form on hostile turf following a dreadful haul of eight away points last term (W1, D5, L13).

Since overcoming last season’s relegation boys Southampton 1-0 in January, Cooper’s lads have gone 12 consecutive away league matches without a clean sheet. 

Forest’s massive defensive woes saw them concede multiple times in ten of those 12 games, including a 2-2 draw at the Bridge in this corresponding fixture in May.

The visitors’ best chance of upsetting the apple cart is free-scoring Taiwo Awoniyi, who has netted in his last seven Premier League appearances, becoming the first-ever Tricky Trees star to reach this milestone.

Team News

Chelsea come into proceedings severely weakened by injuries, with Armando Broja, Trevoh Chalobah, Carney Chukwuemeka, Reece James, Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku remaining on the sidelines.

Pochettino sweats over Romeo Lavia’s match fitness and Mykhailo Mudryk’s unspecified problem. 

As for Forest, senior goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and first-choice centre-back Scott McKenna are unavailable for selection, while Orel Mangala faces a race against time to make the squad.

Chelsea potential starting line-up:

(3-5-2): Robert Sanchez; Alex Disasi, Levi Colwill, Thiago Silva; Malo Gusto, Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo, Conor Gallagher, Ben Chilwell; Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Jackson. 

Nottingham Forest potential starting line-up: 

(3-4-2-1): Matt Turner; Willy Boly, Moussa Niakhate, Joe Worrall; Serge Aurier, Danilo, Ryan Yates, Ola Aina; Brenna Johnson, Morgan Gibbs-White; Taiwo Awoniyi. 

We Say: Chelsea 3-1 Nottingham Forest 

With Steerling hitting his stride and Jackson finding a breakthrough, we expect Chelsea to pack a punch against Forest’s porous backline.

But it’s hard to discard the possibility of Awoniyi putting the ball past Robert Sanchez. 

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