We look ahead to Sunday’s Premier League clash at the City Ground with our Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa prediction and preview. Can Unai Emery’s visitors maintain their fine form?
Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa: The Quick Hits
- Aston Villa are predicted to earn a third successive Premier League win, with Unai Emery’s men beating Nottingham Forest in 42.3% of the Opta supercomputer’s match simulations.
- Villa have won 20 Premier League matches in 2023, with only Manchester City (25) winning more. Only once have they managed more Premier League victories in a calendar year, posting 21 wins in 1998.
- Forest have only lost two of their last 19 Premier League games at the City Ground. Since the start of October 2022, only Man City and Liverpool (both 1) have suffered fewer home defeats in the competition.
Monday will represent the one-year anniversary of Unai Emery’s first Premier League game as Aston Villa manager, which was a statement 3-1 home win over Manchester United. That victory was a sign of things to come under the Spaniard, who will be looking to celebrate the occasion in style when Villa visit the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Villa enter Matchday 11 in fine form, sitting fifth in the Premier League table following back-to-back wins over West Ham and Luton Town. Their return of 22 points from 10 games represents their best start to a league season since 1998-99, when they had an identical tally at this stage. Meanwhile, this is the first time Villa have managed seven wins in their first 10 matches of a top-flight campaign since 1953-54.
John McGinn and Moussa Diaby netted against Luton last week in a 3-1 Villa win. Diaby has six goal involvements in 10 Premier League appearances (3 goals, 3 assists) since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen. Only four Frenchmen have managed more goal contributions across their first 10 outings in the competition: Eric Cantona (9), Dimitri Payet, Laurent Robert (both 8) and David Ginola (7).
At the other end, Villa can rely on a goalkeeper recognised as the world’s best at this week’s Ballon d’Or ceremony. Emiliano Martínez landed the Yashin Trophy following his FIFA World Cup final heroics for Argentina, and according to Opta’s expected goals on target (xGOT) model, he has been the Premier League’s fourth-best shot-stopper in 2023-24. Only Luton’s Thomas Kaminski (3.8), Wolves’ José Sá (3.5) and Tottenham’s Guglielmo Vicario (2.8) have bettered his 2.4 goals prevented.
With Villa’s early EFL Cup exit giving them a week to prepare for Sunday’s game, Emery has no new selection dilemmas. Emiliano Buendía and Tyrone Mings are long-term absentees but Àlex Moreno is close to a return, although Lucas Digne should continue at left-back at the City Ground.
Forest also had a free midweek after bowing out of the EFL Cup in the second round, allowing Steve Cooper to focus on their attempt to halt a six-game winless run in Premier League action.
Forest started 2023-24 brightly as they won two of their first four league games, but after last Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, they are enduring their longest winless run since an 11-match stretch between February and April this year, which almost led to relegation.
With unpredictable owner Evangelos Marinakis watching on, Cooper must turn the tide, but injuries have hampered his attempts to bed in another host of new arrivals. Callum Hudson-Odoi is sidelined with a hamstring issue, while injuries to Divock Origi and Chris Wood saw Cooper name a starting lineup featuring no recognised striker at Anfield, though Taiwo Awoniyi appeared from the bench and should start on Sunday.
With Forest’s attacking options depleted, Anthony Elanga should make his 50th Premier League appearance this week. The winger has five assists in his last eight home Premier League starts with Man Utd and Forest, including two in a 2-2 draw with Luton two weeks ago.
The Sweden international’s pace could be key for a Forest team content to sit deep and hit opponents on the break. Cooper’s men have allowed their opponents a league-high 20.6 passes per defensive action (PPDA) this season – suggesting they pressure their opponents less than any other team – so Villa may have to be patient in their pursuit of the breakthrough.
Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
Forest have a poor recent record against Aston Villa, only winning one of their last 15 league meetings (D7 L7). That victory came by a 2-1 scoreline in the Championship in February 2017, on a day when Jack Grealish was sent off for Villa.
Villa are unbeaten in the clubs’ last nine Premier League matchups, earning four wins and five draws since suffering a 2-0 home defeat in October 1994.
The teams played out a 1-1 draw at the City Ground last October before Villa ran out 2-0 winners in April’s return fixture at Villa Park, with Bertrand Traoré and Ollie Watkins on target.
Regardless of Saturday’s results, Villa will begin Sunday’s game in fifth place. Since making their top-flight return last August, Forest have lost 10 of 12 Premier League games against teams starting the day in the top five positions, with their only such win coming against Arsenal in May.
Though Forest have struggled lately, they boast a solid record on home soil. Cooper’s team lost three consecutive home Premier League games through August and September 2022, but since then, they have only suffered two defeats in 19 outings at the City Ground (W8 D9).
Since the start of last October, only Man City and Liverpool (both 1) have suffered fewer home defeats in the Premier League.
Villa, meanwhile, have won 20 Premier League matches in 2023, with only City (25) recording more victories this year.
Another win on Sunday would see Villa match their club record for Premier League victories in a single calendar year, having recorded 21 wins in 1998.
Villa have won all five of their home league games in 2023-24, but they have a mixed away record. Emery’s men were victorious on trips to Burnley and Chelsea, but suffered defeats at Newcastle United and Liverpool before being held to a 1-1 draw at Wolves on their most recent road trip.
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.
Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa Prediction
The Opta supercomputer makes Villa favourites for Sunday’s game. Of 10,000 match simulations conducted ahead of kick-off, the visitors won 42.1%.
Forest are assigned a 29.1% chance of earning their first victory in over two months, with the likelihood of a draw standing at 28.8%.
Villa’s terrific start to the campaign has seen the supercomputer reassess their hopes of UEFA Champions League qualification. They were given an 8.1% chance of a top-four finish in our season predictions before a ball was kicked, but that figure now stands at 28.6%.
Forest, meanwhile, are relegated in 8.4% of our season simulations, with 16th (21.9%) their most common position.