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Nottingham Forest 2022-23 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to Nottingham Forest's 2022-23 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.

Nottingham Forest will compete in the Premier League for the first time this century having gained promotion via the Championship playoffs last season.

After replacing Chris Hughton in the City Ground dugout last September, Steve Cooper took Forest all the way from the bottom of the table up to fourth position after a remarkable upturn in form.

Cooper's side look like they should mean business in the Premier League, too, having signed 12 players and counting so far this summer for a total outlay of around £85m.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to Nottingham Forest's 2022-23 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.


Nottingham Forest's Ryan Yates celebrates after scoring their first goal on March 4, 2022© Reuters

Nottingham Forest begin their campaign with a tricky trip to Newcastle United, who have spent plenty of money themselves since their Saudi Arabia-based takeover was completed last October.

Forest fans will have a keen eye on their side's visit of Midlands rivals Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on September 30, with the reverse fixture taking place at the City Ground on January 14.

Forest host fellow promoted sides Bournemouth and Fulham on September 3 and September 16 respectively, with Cooper's side travelling to the Vitality Stadium and Craven Cottage on January 21 and February 11 respectively in potentially crucial relegation six-pointers

Click here to see all of Nottingham Forest's 2022-23 fixtures


Manchester United's Jesse Lingard reacts on April 16, 2022© Reuters

Taiwo Awoniyi (£18.5m, Union Berlin)
Neco Williams (£18m, Liverpool)
Orel Mangala (£11.7m, Stuttgart)
Moussa Niakhate (£9m, Mainz 05)
Giulian Biancone (£9m, Troyes)
Omar Richards (£7.7m, Bayern Munich)
Lewis O'Brien (£5.3m, Huddersfield Town)
Harry Toffolo (£5.3m, Huddersfield)
Brandon Aguilera (£0.9m, LD Alajuelense)
Jesse Lingard (free, Manchester United)
Wayne Hennessey (free, Burnley)
Dean Henderson (loan, Man Utd)

Brice Samba (£4.5m, Lens)
Tobias Figueiredo (free, Hull City)
Nicholas Ioannou (undisclosed, Como)
Jonathan Panzo (loan, Coventry City)
Ethan Horvath (loan, Luton Town)
Brandon Aguilera (loan, Guanacasteca)
Lewis Grabban (free, unattached)
Carl Jenkinson (free, unattached)
Gaetan Bong (free, unattached)

Total spent to date: £85.3m
Total received to date: £4.5m

Net transfer balance: -£80.8m


Nottingham Forest's Cafu in action with Bradford City's Elliot Watt, August 11, 2021© Reuters

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Wayne Hennessey, Jordan Smith

Defenders: Neco Williams, Giulian Biancone, Richie Laryea, Moussa Niakhate, Steve Cook, Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna, Loic Mbe Soh, Omar Richards, Harry Toffolo

Midfielders: Jack Colback, Orel Mangala, Ryan Yates, Lewis O'Brien, Braian Ojeda, Harry Arter, Cafu, Jesse Lingard

Forwards: Taiwo Awoniyi, Brennan Johnson, Sam Surridge, Lyle Taylor, Joe Lolley, Xande Silva, Nuno Da Costa, Alex Mighten


 on July 31, 2022© Reuters

STAR PLAYER - Brennan Johnson

Nottingham Forest's Brennan Johnson celebrates after the match, January 22, 2022© Reuters

After being named the Championship's Young Player of the Season, Brennan Johnson heads into his debut Premier League campaign full of confidence.

The Wales forward scored 18 league goals and laid on 10 assists for his teammates during Forest's promotion campaign, which represent incredibly impressive numbers for a 21-year-old who spends most of his time coming infield from a right-wing position.

Johnson thrived from loanee Keinan Davis's unselfish hold-up play and willingness to drop deep during the second half of the season, so the hope will be that new signing Taiwo Awoniyi can strike up a similar relationship with Johnson and new signing Jesse Lingard in attack.

Either way, Johnson's penetrating runs in behind defenders will be a crucial part of how Forest look to hurt opponents, especially as a newly-promoted side likely to be soaking up plenty of pressure in most games.

MANAGER - Steve Cooper

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper celebrates after the match on March 16, 2022© Reuters

After taking Swansea to the playoff final in the 2020-21 season, many eyebrows were raised when the former England Under-17 manager departed the Welsh South coast prior to the beginning of last season.

However, the 42-year-old clearly sensed that there would be a greater opportunity elsewhere for him to potentially manage in the Premier League, and he seized one with both hands after joining Nottingham Forest last September.

Cooper demonstrated his natural risk-taking characteristics by taking over the club despite them being bottom of the division, instantly improving the side's results and style of play in a similar manner to what he had achieved in a short space of time with Swansea.

He has long held a high reputation in English football, having developed the likes of England internationals Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold while managing Liverpool's academy, but now is the time for him to prove that he belongs at the elite level.

LAST SEASON - 4th in Championship

Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba celebrates saving a penalty against Sheffield United on May 17, 2022.© Reuters

As mentioned, the Tricky Trees were bottom of the table when Cooper succeeded Hughton, but five wins from the Welshman's opening six games in charge instantly showed the potential that the team had under a more progressive coach.

The scale of Forest's improvement under Cooper is perhaps best summed up by the fact that, in their penultimate match of the season away to Bournemouth, they had a chance of leapfrogging their opponents into the second automatic promotion spot ahead of the final day.

Kieffer Moore's late winner for the Cherries meant Forest instead had to do things the hard way via the playoffs, but they were not to be deterred.

Sheffield United were narrowly defeated on penalties after an incredibly testing second leg, before Huddersfield Town were beaten 1-0 at Wembley Stadium to spark wild celebrations in Nottingham.


Nottingham Forest's Joe Worrall pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Having spent significantly more money on more new arrivals than their fellow promoted sides, the pressure has undoubtedly increased on Cooper to guide his side to survival this season.

However, the 42-year-old would argue Forest were starting from a lower base than Fulham and Bournemouth, especially having lost several loanees from last season back to their parent clubs.

Ultimately, finishing 17th or above will be seen as a success for Forest this season, and we believe that their new signings will add enough quality to their already talented squad to help them avoid an instant return to the Championship.


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General view of Nottingham Forest's City Ground taken August 2018
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