Monday, 9 September 2013

Heroes & Villains: Goals conceded so far

This season I wanted to keep a closer eye on how and why Forest's goals (for and against) were being scored, as it can tell us a lot about a team tactically - for example, Forest under Billy Davies last season began conceding a lot of goals from crosses, coming mainly from the area in front of our right full-back; it highlighted a weakness in preventing and dealing with high balls under Billy. I intend examining every goal scored and conceded, and over the season will try to build up a larger picture.

I must point out at this point that some of this is going to be a little subjective; this blog isn't merely about my opinions, I want to get to the bottom of things so if you find flaws in my reasoning, help me out and let me know - if there's something in what your saying, or I've missed something, or there is an error lurking, I'll happily upgrade, in fact the more people who stick their oar in, the better picture we'll have of why and how Forest are scoring & conceding.

1. Watford (1-1) - Lewis McGugan

We all knew this would happen... McGugan scores with a good free-kick beating Karl Darlow at his near post.. Watford, being a technically good, passing side, were trying to break forest down by attacking this area. They did go wider at times, but mostly they were playing through the middle, as they do here drawing a free-kick from Guedioura. The tackle looked clumsy, but there are two things we should consider in the Algerian's favour; firstly we must ask if he was doing his job - was he in position? Evidently he was in a good position, tracking the run of the Watford player, Fabbrini. Secondly, did Guedioura make the correct decision in the execution of his tackle? In hindsight; clearly no. There was no problem if he had stayed on his feet. In being so rough Guedioura gave the Watford player the opportunity to go down, and gave the referee a decision to make. However, we must also consider team orders. It is clear that Billy Davies has instructed Forest, when defending, to be 'robust'. Statistically Forest are the dirtiest team in the league, and have been since Billy's return last season. Speak to any opposition fan this season, they have all tended to remark on how dirty Forest are. We've all noticed how many more tackles the midfield are making. With this considered, we must ask whether Guedioura was really to blame for clattering into Fabbrini, or whether Billy's instructions to get stuck in were to blame?

McGugan's free-kick is good, but we should look at whether it ought to have resulted in a goal. It was struck well, but wasn't exactly in the top corner, however I would absolve Darlow of any blame because that is the side of the goal meant to be protected by the wall. Billy Davies has criticised the wall since the game, and looking closely there does seem to be differences in some of the players stances when the ball is struck. I'm not an expert in 'walls', but it appears Reid is the only one really trying to get in the way (see left), the others appear to be merely stood there hoping not to be hit - perhaps this is why Billy was disappointed in the wall?

I'm reasonably happy with Forest's defending for this one; I think any team could have conceded this goal. Perhaps is was a symptom of Forest's tougher defensive ethos? We'll have to keep an eye on how many free-kicks we give away in this area in the future.

Players not doing their job*: None - I'm happy with everyone in this regard. I don't know enough to be able to denounce the players in the wall with any certainty, so I won't.
Players beaten by skill: Guedioura.
Goalkeeping error? No.

2. Wigan (1-1) Shaun Maloney (pen.)

Wigan make some of their Premier League quality shine with some good work by Jean Beausejour, who picked up the ball on the edge of Forest's box and waltzed through two challenges, being brought down by Hobbs. Forest are set up quite well - I can't see anybody out of position contributing to this penalty. Adlene Guedioura has taken some stick for not making his tackle, but it was a great piece of skill that beat him, and did for Jack Hobbs too. The interesting thing of note here is Guedioura's position before the Wigan player gets the ball; I can't fault it. In the past he might have been with Beausejour already, or neglected to see the danger at all, but here Guedioura has made sure he is in a position to intercept, while also looking after his main responsibility, which is the area just in front of the box. To have already be marking Beausejour would leave a hole in a more dangerous position. Guedioura's defensive-midfielder positioning here is sound, he is just beaten by ultra-quick feet. We can't really moan at him for that.

Hobbs brings Beausejour down - he missed his tackle and we should perhaps expect him to make it more than Guedioura, but he's positioned well, closes the gap well, but again he's beaten by skill - it will happen when up against skilful players.

Darlow gets a hand to the penalty; should he have done better? I would say it was a firmly stuck penalty, reasonably well placed - I think he did well to get that close. This goal was all about good skills by our opponents.

Players not doing their job: None.
Players beaten by skill: Guedioura, Hobbs.
Goalkeeping error? No.

3. Wigan (1-2) Jordi Gomez

Again Guedioura is beaten by skill after being in the right place. I struggle to blame players for this when they are doing their job and making the effort - it's not deliberate. The Algerian was where he was meant to be and was simply beaten with the ball. Marc-Antoine Fortune received a long ball and held it up well, turning into the dangerous area in front of Forest's penalty area. Guedioura is positioned well, but cannot make the tackle. The Wigan player shoots and produces a brilliant save from Karl Darlow, unfortunately the ball comes off the woodwork and falls to Gomez, who slots it into an empty net.

Eric Lichaj is marking Fortune and I don't think he does anything wrong, he hassles and pressures him into a busier area of the pitch, where Lansbury and Guedioura are waiting, an area where he will have to get rid of the ball or dodge a tackle. Between them the Forest players can't get the ball and Wigan create their goal.

Darlow does brilliantly. There is no fault here.

Gomez is able to pounce on the ball before any Forest player; should this have been allowed? If there was another Wigan striker up there, I would have a criticism in that the left-midfielder should have been further back (even then he might not have been able to get the ball first - it was kind of a lottery where it bounced). However, because Cohen was already there, and he didn't have anybody else to pick up, there was no need for the midfielder to come back and defend deeper - Cohen had Gomez. Is Cohen at fault? I would argue this would be a harsh stance. As mentioned above, it was a lottery where the ball rebouned to, and since Cohen didn't switch off, I can't really blame him. Disagree?

Players not doing their job: None.
Players beaten by skill: Guedioura.
Goalkeeping error? No.
So far I can't find too much to complain about with our goals conceded - in my judgement we've not let any in because of players dozing off, or neglecting their duties, they have merely been beaten by skill - it has taken something special to score against Forest so far. I've been impresses by the work rate and defending, particularly from the midfielders, and at the more robust approach taken to defending (last season all of the softer, fairer teams, the ones that gave away the least free-kicks, finished towards the bottom of the table. You have to be nasty in The Championship by last year's evidence, see here.).

The loss of our defensive midfielder may change this, but many fans thought he wasn't playing very well anyway. Guedioura was, in my opinion, improving defensively, but still giving the ball away like all players playing outside their comfort zone do - it will be interesting to see how we shape up defensively against Barnsley.

Cheers for reading, any thoughts on the above would be welcome; have I got anything wrong? COYR!

Previously: the goals scored.

* In asking whether a player is 'doing his job', I mean is he doing it to his capabilities? Has he maintained the defensive position asked of him, and has he tried his best to make that position count. This will be a debatable issue at times.


  1. You seem pretty impressed with Billy's robust approach, but we've been picking up a fair few yellow cards which will lead to suspensions. We have a big enough squad to cope, but won't look so solid if we have to play the likes of Collins or Mousi.

    Also, with regards Guedioura leaving, what do you reckon about putting Cohen in the centre, and bringing in Halford at left back? I know Billy fancies him up front these days, but seemed fairly solid defensively lest season and we've seen him being effective out wide (cross for Lansbury's goal against Bolton) this term.

    Cheers for the blog. It's good to read some intelligent stuff written about Forest, with no mention of Derby.

  2. Thanks pal.

    As a purist, I'm not impressed with dirty teams. I was always an idealist and never liked it (how Chelsea play under JM for example), but as I'm getting older I think it's getting knocked out of me! And I can prove that there is a direct correlation between being dirty and being successful in this division. It's beneficial on so many levels - aside from the obvious effects of bullying teams off the ball it has seemed to get the fans riled up as well getting them behind us, it makes the opposition lose their cool and get men sent off, it improves our positioning if our players are relishing a scrap - it seems in this league much of the battle is physical.

    Of course though, we'll pick up yellow cards and miss players through suspension, and as I allude to above we'll lose goals from set pieces. Statistically though, being dirty has still paid off - I'm 100% convinced Billy has recognised this and it's deliberate. It's a battle out there, why be nice and lose? But it will be interesting to see what effect suspensions have on us, I'd not considered it and will keep my eye on it in the future thanks.

    I'm thinking Billy wants a creative, decisive player in the DM, I don't think he wants a traditional DM at all - Grant Leadbitter certainly isn't one. He wants someone to act as a Launchpad for his attacks, while still having the energy to defend. I think this will be Lansbury for a while.

    Thanks again, makes it worthwhile.

  3. I think that whats sets Forest under Davis apart from other 'dirty' teams is that they still play attractive attacking football, not route one Pulis-ball, which as a fan is great. I suppose a problem could be that if we establish a reputation as a dirty team, then opponents can play up to it like Guardiola's Barca used to against Madrid. Also should we ever reach the Prem, being dirty could be an issue. Though we probably don't have to worry about that for a while.

    Interesting point about Billy not wanting a traditional DM. Most people seem to think his after another MacKenna. If Lansbury plays there we should get a look at either Paterson or Abdoun on the right.

  4. I was proved right about Billy wanting a creative DM at the Barnsley game eh? Oh wait Moussi...Nope! I really do think he does want a more forward thinking DM (like Leadbitter), but playing Moussi was a means to an end against Barnsley I think. Sort it out Billy you're making me look like I don't know what I'm on about!

    Re dirty teams, I'm not looked at all the other teams stats yet, but FYI I know we were THE DIRTIEST team in the league after Billy arrived last season, and we've continued that - we're still giving away far more free-kicks that the average, and I'm 99% sure we actually give away the most free-kicks. Will we acquire a reputation? Yes I think we will.

  5. I didn't see the game, but from what I've read Moussi didn't cover himself in glory. Maybe Billy should have listened to you!

    RE Forest discipline: both goals conceded on Saturday were the direct result of fouls. So looking at the 5 league goals conceded so far, 4 have been from free kicks or penalties. Forest look good at the back from what I've seen and heard, but if you give away penalties and free kicks around the box, you're always going to concede.