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Preview: Nottingham Forest Vs Charlton Althetic

Type ‘Bob Peeters’ into a Google search bar and two of the first suggestions that appear are ‘Bob Peeters Uwe Rosler’ and ‘Bob Peeters Steve Evans’.

It’s a reminder that the 6’5 former target man, who remains built like he only retired last week, isn’t afraid to put himself about in the technical area. Rosler was left infuriated by his over celebration of Charlton’s winner against Wigan back in August, and Evans wasn’t too impressed that the Belgian failed to shake his hand at the New York Stadium in September.

Such antics at the City Ground on Saturday will no doubt awake the beast hibernating inside Stuart Pearce, who has seemingly grown calmer in his relative old age.

And you wouldn’t be surprised if at least one patroller of a technical area lets his emotions get the better of him, especially given the need both sides have for a win.

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Had this fixture taken place before the middle of October, it would have been played out by two sides full of confidence; two sides who seemingly had realistic promotion ambitions.

For Nottingham Forest and Charlton were the last two teams to suffer defeat in this Championship campaign. A 2-1 loss to Cardiff City for Forest was shortly followed by the Addicks tamely losing 1-0 at Bournemouth.

But since then, defeats have become somewhat more regular for the pair, and wins increasingly rare. Six losses have been shared and only four wins picked up between the two in the 14 games since their first defeats.

It means that, instead of being a clash between two teams attempting to strengthen a place in the top six, and two managers in far too good a mood to worry about getting aggressive with one another, it’s one between two teams nervously peering over to the bottom half of the division.

But while a gap of just three points separates both sides from 13th, the same gap is keeping them outside of the top six.

And with Forest, regardless of their recent run, boasting a squad backed with quality and Charlton showing positive signs in their defeat to Ipswich on Saturday, a win for either side at the City Ground could be exactly what’s needed to rekindle their seasons.

LAST MEETING – NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0-1 CHARLTON ATHLETIC

In a tense affair, made tenser still by both sides persistently failing in front of goal, a late Jordan Cousins strike relieved pressure on relegation threatened Charlton.

But the game itself was a merely a sideshow to the post-match scrap between Lawrie Wilson and Astrit Ajdarevic. The Peeters Vs Pearce duel has a lot to live up to.

FORM

Nottingham Forest: LWWLLL

A dramatic victory over Norwich City and an impressive three-goal blitzing of Wolves suggested they were back to their impressive best, but Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at St. Andrews has derailed the Forest recovery.

While there is no shame in losing to a rejuvenated Birmingham side, the manner of the defeat stands to be potentially costly. Not only for the fact that Britt Assombalonga was sent-off in the incident that gave the Blues a chance to win the game from the spot in the 89th minute, but that Forest, though Assombalonga, had levelled just five minutes earlier.

A confidence crushing defeat, as well as one that leaves without them a star man looking ahead.

Charlton: LDWDDL

For Charlton, too, there is a danger Saturday’s late defeat, their first at The Valley season, will be particularly damaging.

Of course, losing in stoppage time is never easy to take, but that the Addicks impressed for large periods of the game against Ipswich without being able to find the finishing touch to their moves forward means the defeat remains a cause of angst.

But, once the final tear inflicted by Noel Hunt’s winner has been shed, the positives taken from Saturday’s performance may encourage the most optimistic of Addicks to believe a run of results isn’t far away.

There was, for half an hour at least, pace and flair in the attacking play that would have put Charlton out of sight had there been a composed figure waiting to finish off the chances.

With Igor Vetokele another week closer to full fitness, maybe, just maybe, Charlton’s woes in front of goal will come to an end this weekend.

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THE OPPOSITION

Forest will be without top scorer Assombalonga following the forward’s sending off in the defeat against Birmingham.

It means one of Forest’s goal-shy strikers will join Matty Fryatt in attack, with Dexter Blackstock likely to get the nod.

Peace will also be without long-term absentees Andy Reid, a popular figure during his 18 months in SE7 and Jack Hobbs, but Jamaal Lascelles, who picked up a groin injury at St. Andrews, is fit to face the Addicks.

THE ADDICKS

Charlton’s already small squad will again be without a number of players when the Addicks travel north this weekend.

Yoni Buyens (hamstring), Franck Moussa (knee), Stephen Henderson (shoulder) and Rhoys Wiggins (foot) won’t feature at the City Ground, while Simon Church, the obvious answer to Charlton’s problems in front of goal, remains absent.

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But, with the forward finally something like fully fit, the Vetokele that’s a constant threat and knows where the goal is may well return for the Addicks.

KEY BATTLE – FOREST’S PACE OUT WIDE VS MORGAN FOX

While Assombalonga’s absence weakens Forest severely in attack, it certainly isn’t to say Pearce’s side suddenly become something resembling Charlton 2013/14.

Wide man Michail Antonio, who has nine goals and seven assists this season, provides a threat equal to Assombalonga’s, and it’s a threat that could be particularly worrying for the Addicks given their apparent weakness at left back.

While Morgan Fox is clearly a talented young player and one that can just about hold his own in this division, there are times when the 20-year-old has looked incredibly uncomfortable against wingers a level below Antonio.

And should Antonio operate on the left, there will still be Chris Burke or Tom Ince for Fox to deal with. Two excellent wide men at this level.

How Fox deals with Forest’s wingers will go some way to deciding the outcome of Saturday’s game.

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PREDICITION

It’s a game that, on the face of it, wouldn’t be a bad one to draw. Forest are a very decent side, and Pearce’s men have lost just twice at home this season.

But, should Charlton want to maintain realistic promotion ambitions, it’s one that they should really be looking to get three points out of.

Norwich and Reading fans weren’t very appreciative of the manner in which the Addicks stole all three points from their places, and I have a feeling Forest fans, along with Pearce, might well be joining them.

The grittiest and ugliest of wins, but a win nonetheless. Nottingham Forest 0-1 Charlton Athletic

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