Ivan Toney is back, but will he make an immediate impact? We look ahead to Saturday’s late kick-off in the Premier League with our Brentford vs Nottingham Forest prediction and preview.
Brentford vs Nottingham Forest Stats: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer is predicting that Brentford will end their miserable run of form on Saturday, with the Bees beating Nottingham Forest in 51% of our pre-match simulations.
- Brentford have lost their last five Premier League games, only enduring a longer losing run in the top flight in April 1947, when they lost seven in a row.
- Ivan Toney could make his first appearance since May 2023 after the end of his suspension. He’s scored in all three of his league games against Nottingham Forest, as well as on his last three league outings at the Gtech Community Stadium.
It’s fair to say Brentford have missed Ivan Toney during the striker’s eight-month ban for breaching the Football Association’s gambling rules. The Bees head into Saturday’s clash with Nottingham Forest just three points clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone and on a miserable run of form that’s seen them go seven games without a win in all competitions. As Toney returns to the fray, can he inspire an upturn against another side glancing nervously over their shoulders?
Brentford have lost seven of their last eight Premier League games (one win), including each of their last five, having squandered an early lead in a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace last time out in the competition on 30 December. They last endured a longer losing run in league action as a second-tier side in March 1993, while only in April 1947 have they had a longer such streak in the top flight (seven).
Thomas Frank’s side suffered more frustration in the third round of the FA Cup in midweek, being beaten 3-2 by Wolves in a dramatic replay at Molineux that required extra time. Brentford twice led through Nathan Collins and Neal Maupay, but goals from Nélson Semedo, Nathan Fraser and Matheus Cunha sent Gary O’Neil’s men through.
Frank will hope the return of Toney – who is expected to stay at the Gtech Community Stadium after being linked with Arsenal and Chelsea – can make the difference for his embattled side. Only Erling Haaland (36) and Harry Kane (30) bettered Toney’s 20 Premier League goals last season, as he scored 17 of his 33 big chances for a 51.5% conversion rate.
The England international has an excellent record against Forest, netting in all three of his previous league games against them, while he has also scored on his last three home league outings.
His return is even more welcome given Brentford’s selection problems. Fellow attackers Bryan Mbeumo and Kevin Schade are sidelined, while Yoane Wissa is representing DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations. Frank Onyeka is also at that tournament with Nigeria while Iran’s Saman Ghoddos is at the Asian Cup, but defenders Kristoffer Ajer and Ben Mee returned from injury and suspension in midweek and should feature in Saturday’s lineup.
If Brentford are to drag themselves clear of the bottom three, they simply must improve their game management; they have dropped a Premier League-high 20 points from winning positions this season, losing the most games after scoring first in the competition (four). Meanwhile, they are one of six teams yet to fight back to win after conceding first in 2023-24.
Forest’s problems, meanwhile, are predominantly of an off-pitch nature, with Nuno Espírito Santo’s positive start at the City Ground in danger of being undone by Monday’s charge for an alleged breach of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.
Forest won’t discover their punishment – if found guilty – until April, but a 10-point deduction identical to that received by Everton in November would, at present, plunge them to 19th in the table.
On the pitch, Nuno has overseen a clear upturn since taking the reins from Steve Cooper. Having won their last two Premier League games against Newcastle United (3-1) and Manchester United (2-1), Forest could post three straight wins in the competition for the first time since May 1999. Forest were also in FA Cup action in midweek, as they won their replay at Blackpool on Wednesday night 3-2 thanks to goals from Andrew Omobamidele, Danilo and an extra-time strike from Chris Wood.
Morgan Gibbs-White hit a superb winner against Man Utd in Forest’s last league game, having been teed up by in-form wideman Anthony Elanga. With four goals and six assists, Elanga has been involved in 42% of Forest’s 24 Premier League goals this season, a higher share than all but three players in the competition.
Three of Elanga’s assists have come at the end of carries, with only Ollie Watkins (five), Anthony Gordon, Jérémy Doku and Mohamed Salah (four apiece) registering more in the competition.
Forest will certainly hope to pose a physical threat, with only Arsenal (nine) bettering their eight headed goals in the Premier League in 2023-24 – those efforts account for a league-high 33% of their overall tally. Brentford, meanwhile, have conceded a competition-high 10 headed goals this term.
Forest’s leading scorer Wood has netted three of his seven Premier League goals this term with his head, and he will lead the line once more on Saturday with Taiwo Awoniyi still absent.
Brentford vs Nottingham Forest Head-to-Head
The omens are good for Brentford ahead of this meeting of potential strugglers. The Bees are unbeaten in their last five league meetings with Forest, winning two and drawing three against them since suffering a 1-0 home defeat in the Championship in January 2020.
However, October’s return fixture was one of many games in which they have squandered a lead this campaign, with Nicolás Domínguez cancelling out Christian Nørgaard’s opener despite Forest having defender Moussa Niakhaté sent off early in the second half.
Forest lost this exact fixture 2-1 last April, with late goals from Toney and Josh Dasilva completing a remarkable turnaround after Danilo had put the visitors in front.
They could now lose on successive league trips to Brentford for just the second time, previously doing so in April 1949 and August 2016.
Having won their most recent away league game at Newcastle on Boxing Day, Forest could record back-to-back road wins in the top flight for the first time since April 1995, when they won four straight under Frank Clark.
However, they have a dismal recent record in London. Since returning to the Premier League in 2022, Forest have shipped 29 goals in 12 away league matches against London clubs, at an average of 2.4 per game. They were hammered 5-0 at Fulham on their last trip to the capital.
Brentford, meanwhile, have witnessed an alarming drop-off in their home form this term.
They lost two of 19 home league games in 2022-23 (10 wins, seven draws), with only Manchester City, United and Liverpool (all one) suffering fewer defeats on their own turf.
They have already doubled that tally in 2023-24, losing four of their 10 league matches at the Gtech Community Stadium (three wins, three draws) including their last two, against Aston Villa (2-1) and Wolves (4-1).
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 in this game, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Brentford vs Nottingham Forest Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Ethan Pinnock: 73.6 (out of 100)
Vitaly Janelt: 64.9
Nathan Collins: 64.8
Mathias Jensen: 64.2
Bryan Mbeumo: 61.0
Moussa Niakhaté: 66.0 (out of 100)
Harry Toffolo: 64.6
Willy-Arnaud Boly: 64.2
Anthony Elanga: 62.4
Orel Mangala: 60.4
Brentford vs Nottingham Forest Prediction
Brentford desperately need to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three before facing Tottenham, Manchester City (twice), Wolves and Liverpool in a daunting run of upcoming fixtures.
The Opta supercomputer makes them favourites to do so, with the Bees winning 51% of our match simulations conducted ahead of kick-off. Forest are assigned a 22% chance of victory, with the likelihood of a draw rated at 27%.
In the supercomputer’s season predictions, Brentford are assigned a 6.2% chance of relegation. Forest go down in 14.6% of our simulations, though the prospect of a late-season points deduction could have a huge bearing on their survival hopes.