Nottingham Forest vs Fulham predictions: Fulham can extend good start
Both teams rose from the Championship last season but Fulham have settled into Premier League life far more comfortably than Nottingham Forest.
The Cottagers were dealt a tough set of opening fixtures but have coped admirably, drawing 2-2 with Liverpool and beating fast-starting Brighton, as well as claiming victory over Brentford and earning a point at Wolves.
Even the two defeats suffered by Marco Silva's side were excusable, coming in the form of narrow 2-1 losses away at big six duo Tottenham and Arsenal.
Arguably Fulham’s biggest success story of the season, however, has been how well Aleksandar Mitrovic has settled upon his return to the top flight — his record of six goals in six games is all the more impressive given four of those strikes have come against Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.
Forest manager Steve Cooper will envy his opposite number, not just for his ability to call upon an in-form marksman, but also his fortune in leading a stable, settled group.
There was much excitement about the incoming transfers at the City Ground this summer, but with an astonishing 22 new faces arriving Cooper is having to build a team on the go in his first ever managerial stint in the Premier League.
Three of Cooper's new signings are unavailable against Fulham on Friday night, with both centre-back Moussa Niakhate and former Bayern Munich left-back Omar Richards out until October.
Midfielder Orel Mangala, who arrived from VfB Stuttgart in July, has returned to training following a hamstring injury but may not be rushed back into action before the international break.
Fulham manager Silva will again be without wingers Manor Solomon and Harry Wilson, who both have knee injuries, but deadline day signings Dan James and Willian will both be pushing to start in attack.
Left-back Antonee Robinson limped off against Tottenham in Fulham's last outing and is expected to be out until after the international break, but Layvin Kurzawa should slot straight in after signing on loan from Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day.
Home advantage has not counted for much previously when these two have met, with five of the last six games between them producing an away win, with Fulham winning four of those six games and Forest only two.
Nottingham Forest failed to win any of their eight home games against other teams who finished in the top nine of the Championship last season, losing five.
By contrast, Fulham lost only one of their eight trips to fellow top-nine teams, winning five — including a 4-0 win at the City Ground.
Despite finishing fourth in their promotion campaign, Forest had only the eighth-best home record in the second tier and there have been few signs yet of Cooper’s men improving in front of their own supporters.
The Reds were fortunate to beat West Ham 1-0, with the visitors twice hitting the bar, having a goal contentiously chalked off by VAR, missing a penalty, dominating shots and possession and earning an expected goals rating of 2.1 to Forest’s 1.4.
In the following home game, Cooper's men were outclassed by Tottenham despite losing only 2-0 and then managed to throw away a 2-0 lead against struggling Bournemouth to go down 3-2.
In between they lost 6-0 to Manchester City and were fortunate to nick a point at Everton.
The fanfare that followed Forest's summer spending spree has died down a little as the enormity of the task presented to Cooper has become increasingly clear.
Forest were forced into the market following a slew of departures, but bringing in 22 new faces seems an overreach that offers Cooper as many problems as solutions.
There is undoubtedly now more Premier League-standard quality in the Forest squad but there is also a lack of understanding between players as many did not join until the season had begun so have lacked time to bed in.
In all, 19 different players have started for Forest this season and it will take time for Cooper to find his best team and for the new squad to become a cohesive unit.
Adrenaline and the roar of a jubilant home crowd can only help so much and the surrender of a two-goal lead against Bournemouth will be of serious concern.
Fulham have endured no such teething problems, with only 13 different players starting for Silva this term and nine players featuring in all six starting XIs as the Cottagers have carried over their 2021-22 form into the new campaign.
A well-drilled, confident Fulham should, therefore, be able to take all three points.