We look ahead to Saturday’s Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium with our Manchester City vs Nottingham Forest prediction and preview. Can the champions maintain their perfect start?
Manchester City vs Nottingham Forest: The Quick Hits
- Manchester City are strong favourites to maintain their perfect start to the season against Nottingham Forest, with the Opta Supercomputer giving them an 80.8% chance of victory.
- Man City could become the second team to start a Premier League title defence with six straight wins, after Chelsea in 2005-06. The Blues retained the trophy that season.
- Julián Álvarez has created 16 chances in the Premier League this season. The last City player to create more at this stage of a campaign was Kevin De Bruyne in 2019-20 (19).
Manchester City are on a roll, with 3-1 comeback victories over West Ham and Crvena Zvezda maintaining their flawless start in the Premier League and getting their UEFA Champions League campaign up and running in the last week. Next for last season’s treble-winners is Saturday’s meeting with Nottingham Forest at the Etihad Stadium.
City could start a Premier League campaign with six successive wins for the second time, having done so in Pep Guardiola’s debut season in 2016-17. Victory over Forest would make them just the second reigning champions to achieve that feat, after Chelsea in 2005-06. José Mourinho’s Blues retained their title that season after winning their opening nine league games.
Few would bet against City also retaining the title. They certainly showed the resilience of champions after falling behind at West Ham, with goals from Jérémy Doku, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland turning the game around. In truth, Guardiola’s men should have been more comfortable, attempting 29 shots worth 3.63 xG, 2.56 of which came from the nine shots taken just by Haaland.
Julián Álvarez recorded two assists at the London Stadium before netting twice in Tuesday’s win over Crvena Zvezda. His 16 chances created in the Premier League this term put him second only to Wolves’ Pedro Neto (17), while the last City player to create more in the first five games of a campaign was Kevin De Bruyne (19) in 2019-20.
De Bruyne is, of course, a long-term absentee after undergoing hamstring surgery, and Guardiola said injuries were causing City “trouble” after Silva limped off on Tuesday. Jack Grealish is not expected to return for the visit of Forest, though Mateo Kovacic is nearing fitness and Matheus Nunes could be handed his first league start for the club.
Forest, meanwhile, were frustrated in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley at the City Ground, but seven points from five games represents a positive start for Steve Cooper’s men, particularly with trips to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United out of the way.
Indeed, Forest will begin Saturday’s game eighth in the league table, their highest position going into a Premier League match since September 1998, when they were seventh ahead of a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. They have never won a Premier League game against a team starting the day on top, however, drawing three and losing five.
Forest were trailing Burnley before Callum Hudson-Odoi levelled with a magnificent, curling strike from outside the area, with the former Chelsea man becoming the first player to net on his Premier League debut for Forest since Geoff Thomas against Arsenal in August 1998.
Hudson-Odoi’s strike was teed up by Taiwo Awoniyi, who has recorded a goal involvement in nine consecutive Premier League games despite never completing 90 minutes (nine goals, two assists). The Nigerian could become just the second African player to score or assist in 10 consecutive Premier League matches after Mohamed Salah, who enjoyed a 15-game streak in 2021 and is currently on another run of 11.
With Morgan Gibbs-White and Anthony Elanga completing a dangerous front four and Divock Origi offering support from the bench, Forest will hope to pose a threat on the break. In defence, Willy Boly and Serge Aurier were both absent on Monday but could return here.
Manchester City vs Nottingham Forest Head-to-Head
City have a strong record against Forest, going unbeaten in their last six league meetings (four wins, two draws) since a 3-2 second-tier defeat at Maine Road in December 1997.
This will be Forest’s third visit to the Etihad. They won 3-0 in an FA Cup tie in January 2009 but were thrashed 6-0 in this fixture last August, with Haaland scoring a first-half hat-trick.
Haaland was denied a way through when the teams last met at the City Ground in February, though, with Chris Wood cancelling out Silva’s opener as Forest clinched a hard-earned point.
The champions have won all 12 of their home Premier League games in 2023, last winning more consecutive top-flight games at the Etihad between September 2017 and March 2018 (14).
The only Premier League side to win more successive home games from the start of a calendar year is Manchester United, who won their first 13 in 2011 before being thrashed 6-1 by City in October of that year.
Forest seem to have settled following a turbulent start to their latest spell in the top flight. They picked up three points during an 11-game winless run between February and April, but have lost three of their subsequent 11 league matches (five wins, three draws), though all of those defeats came on the road.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Manchester City vs Nottingham Forest Prediction
The Opta supercomputer is not expecting any surprises on Saturday, giving City an 80.8% chance of making it six wins from six Premier League outings in 2023-24.
Forest are given just a 5.5% chance of victory, with the likelihood of a draw standing at 13.7%.
Across 10,000 season simulations before kick-off, City retained their title in 91.1% of scenarios, while Forest’s bright start has seen their chances of relegation drop to just 8.8%.