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Venue: City Ground, Nottingham
Premier League
Saturday 2 December 2023; 5:30pm
Nott'm Forest
0 1
Half Time: 0 - 0 
McNeil 67'
Attendance: 29,404
Fixture 13
Referee: Paul Tierney

Match Reports
2023-24 Reports Index
« Previous Man United (H)
» Next Newcastle (H)
  Boly (Felipe 46' booked)
  Toffolo (Origi 82')
  Sangare (Hudson-Odoi 65')
  Subs not used
  N Williams

  Beto (Chermiti 82')
  Subs not used
  Alli (injured)
  Calvert-Lewin (injured)
  Gomes (injured)
  Onana (injured)
  Maupay (loan)

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Arsenal 2-1 Wolves
Brentford 3-1 Luton
Burnley 5-0 Sheff United
Newcastle 1-0 Man United
Nottm Forest 0-1 Everton
Bournemouth 2-2 Aston Villa
Chelsea 3-2 Brighton
Liverpool 4-3 Fulham
Man City 3-3 Tottenham
West Ham 1-1 C Palace

1 Arsenal 33
2 Liverpool 31
3 Manchester City 30
4 Aston Villa 29
5 Tottenham Hotspur 27
6 Newcastle United 26
7 Manchester United 24
8 Brighton & Hove Albion 22
9 West Ham United 21
10 Chelsea 19
11 Brentford 19
12 Crystal Palace 16
13 Fulham 15
14 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15
15 Bournemouth 13
16 Nottingham Forest 13
17 Luton Town 9
18 Everton* 7
19 Burnley 7
20 Sheffield United 5

Match Report

This was a big result. On the back of the hammer blow of the points deduction and last weekend’s harshly emphatic defeat at the hands of Manchester United, this game against Forest at the City Ground was a bigger game than perhaps many of us wanted to admit out loud.

Had we lost, there still would have been another 24 matches to go in the season but, psychologically, to be bottom of the Premier League table, five points from safety with just four points from 14 games, and with Newcastle and Chelsea up next at a Goodison Park that has not been a fortress of any kind lately… well, let’s just say we would have been in a fairly demoralised place.

Thankfully, Sean Dyche has fostered unity and grit from the shattered group he inherited from Frank Lampard 10 months ago and they ground out a laudable victory over a team that had only lost once at home all season and, until today, hadn’t lost successive fixtures at the City Ground in 15 months.

And they did it without either Amadou Onana or Dominic Calvert-Lewin after both players were ruled out with calf problems. The absence of the latter may have been painfully acute at times as Beto struggled with the demands of leading the line and missed a glorious chance to open his league account for the Blues, but Dwight McNeil stepped up with a lovely finish to score the decisive goal while James Garner ran the midfield with a man-of-the-match display. Divock Origi, a late sub for the hosts, was, for once, rendered a mere footnote on the proceedings.

Forest came into the game on a run of just one win in nine and with Steve Cooper’s job once again a topic for speculation and, for long periods, they were simply off their game. Dyche would, no doubt, have singled out Morgan Gibbs-White and Anthony Elanga as threats on the flanks as well as his former charge, Chris Wood up front playing instead of the injured Taiwo Awoniyi but all three largely contained by Everton’s back line, with Wood in particular snuffed out as an aerial danger by Jarrad Branthwaite.

Felipe hit the post in the second half and Cooper moaned about what he deemed to be a strong claim for a penalty in the second half when Abdoulaye Doucouré seemed to pull Ryan Yates back by the shirt in the area but it was one of those decisions that hardly ever gate called anymore (ask Onana), particularly when the player makes a meal of the “foul”. Cooper also neglected the fact that Felipe probably should have seen red had the same rules as those applied to Ashley Young at Anfield been applied and replays showed that Willy Boly was fortunate to get away with a handball in his own box in the first period.

Ultimately, the Forest boss could have few complaints; his team were a shadow of the one that beat Aston Villa here a month ago and that allowed Everton to control the contest for long periods in the first half, even if they struggled to execute in the final third.

With Onana also missing from the starting XI, Idrissa Gueye continued in central midfield alongside the ceaselessly industrious Garner in an otherwise unchanged line-up from last Sunday. The former Forest loanee had a “sighter” on the half-volley comfortably caught in the 18th minute before Beto had a great opportunity to fire Everton ahead in the 22nd minute.

Odysseas Vlachodimos spilled the ball at the Portuguese striker's feet but, trying to steer it wide of the keeper and the last defender into the empty net, he scooped his shot over the bar.

As the game passed the half-hour mark, Forest finally started to come alive and Elanga swept Serge Aurier’s cross wide of the post but both sides went very close to going into half-time a goal up.

First, Abdoulaye Doucouré played McNeil in with a neat pass but Murillo did superbly to get back almost to his goal line to hack a shot searching for the far corner off the outside of the opposite post and behind.

Then, in stoppage time, when James Tarkowski was caught dallying in a dangerous area, Forest took possession and Ibrahim Sangare moved the ball on to Gibbs-White but, thankfully, he lashed a first-time effort into the side-netting.

Cooper’s side had been well below par during the first 45 minutes and could only have improved in the second as they came out from the interval in more purposeful mood.

And they came within inches of taking the lead when a couple of red shirts went down in the box under the attentions of Everton players from a corner and the ball ended at the feet of half-time substitute Felipe who smashed a snap-shot off the outside of the woodwork.

Ashley Young hit the wall with a disappointing direct free-kick and Beto ballooned one into the stands before McNeil took centre stage. Harrison and Gueye exchanged a tidy one-two down the right flank and the winger clipped a teasing ball to the back post where McNeil took one touch and then despatched it across the keeper and into the top corner.

Predictably, Cooper’s men stepped up their efforts in the final quarter of the game as they battled to avoid what would have been a second successive home defeat for the first time since September 2022.

Elanga could only find the side-netting off a clever free-kick routine and an important touch by Vitalii Mykolenko to force him to the byline, Garner flung himself into an excellent defensive block to deny Ryan Yates, and Jordan Pickford was called upon to execute a fine sliding tackle to clear his lines.

The England keeper was alert again to push Murillo’s low drive away to safety and with just a minute left, Elanga had one last chance to scratch out a point but missed the far post with a curling shot.

The final whistle, when it came, was sweet relief to the travelling Blues, most of whom have now witnessed Everton win three successive games on the road for the first time since the “lockdown” season under Carlo Ancelotti. Were it not for the overly punitive sanction from the Premier League, they would be sitting in 11th place ahead of the Sunday fixtures; as it is, they moved up to 18th and to within two points of Luton Town in 17th.

Dyche still needs to solve the team’s issues at home where they have only one twice in the League since March and opponents don’t come much more difficult than a Newcastle side packed with ability and an insatiable desire to get forward but it would be the idea time for the Toffees to pick up a rare win in front of their home fans, under the lights on Thursday night.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton travel to the City Ground this weekend needing the lift of a positive result after the setback they suffered against Manchester United at Goodison Park.

The Blues went down to a somewhat harsh but, nonetheless, fairly demoralising 3-0 defeat to the Red Devils and were left five points adrift of safety thanks to the 10-point deduction handed down by the Premier League-appointed independent commission and Luton Town's inconvenient win over Crystal Palace.

Sean Dyche's men have been at their best on their travels so far this season, though, and they would have felt as though they did enough in this fixture last season to have taken home all three points, so there is reason for optimism heading into Saturday's clash in the East Midlands.

Everton do have injury concerns, however, with Amadou Onana set to miss out with what has become a troublesome calf issue and it has emerged that Dominic Calvert-Lewin experienced tightness in the same muscle during the defeat to United and his fitness has been managed through the week.

The striker has trained carefully indoors along with Onana, separately from the rest of the team, to give him the best chance of being fit to face Forest.

There was positive news on Beto, though, as he resumed full training after missing out last Sunday with a knock picked up at Finch Farm and he will be available. 

Meanwhile, Seamus Coleman put another week's worth of training work behind him as he builds towards his own match fitness and he could make an appearance off the bench if the opportunity arises.

For their part, Forest approach the game sitting in 15th place, with fewer points than Everton would have without the excessive penalty levied against them, with manager Steve Cooper back under scrutiny.

They've only won once in all competitions since the start of September but that solitary victory was a handsome 2-0 Midlands derby triumph over high-flying Aston Villa and, over the past season or so, they have one of the best home records in the top flight.

Cooper will be without his main striker Taiwo Awoniyi and Felipe Monteiro while Ibrahim Sangare is a doubt because of illness but, otherwise, Forest will be at full strength.

Kick-off: 5:30pm, Saturday 2 December, 2023
Referee: Paul Tierney
VAR: Michael Oliver
Last Time: Nottingham Forest 2 - 2 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Young, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Gueye, Garner, Harrison, McNeil, Doucouré, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

This weekend's slate of Premier League games is split evenly across Saturday and Sunday with two of the five games each day broadcast live on TV in the UK:

Saturday 2 December 2023
17:30 Nottingham Forest v Everton — Sky Sports  
20:00 Newcastle Utd v Manchester Utd — TNT Sports 1 
Sunday 3 December 2023
14:00 West Ham Utd v Crystal Palace — Sky Sports  
16:30 Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur  — Sky Sports  

Michael Kenrick

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