The New Year’s Day action continues this afternoon with the first Premier League meeting between Nottingham Forest and Chelsea since the turn of the century.
Graham Potter’s Blues enjoyed a solid final week of what was a fairly difficult calendar year, which left them ninth in the table and a whole eight points off the Champions League places and even behind neighbours Fulham. A rampant injury crisis has hit Chelsea particularly hard of late but they did at least end 2022 with a solid win over Bournemouth as the club plots a long-term path back to the top following a damaging run of three straight defeats before the World Cup break.
Forest, meanwhile, have only lost one of their last five in all competitions but remain lodged in the relegation zone having scored the second-fewest goals in the entire Premier League so far this term. Follow Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea live below, featuring expert analysis from Nizaar Kinsella at the City Ground.
Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea latest news
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Lineups on the way
A wet and windy start to 2023 on the banks of the River Trent.
Official team news from the City Ground is now less than 10 minutes away. Stay tuned!
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Cooper hails Giraldi role
Here’s more from Steve Cooper on his positive relationship with sporting director Filippo Giraldi, which he hopes can help guide Forest to Premier League safety this term.
Watford’s ex-technical director was appointed to his role at the City Ground in October after a behind-the-scenes shake-up instigated after that crazy summer transfer window.
“It’s definitely been a positive step to have someone in that role, it’s very common now,” Cooper said.
“You can see the benefits from it and having the workload he can take on.
“I thought that at the time, and I thought it before to be honest I want to be a head coach, there’s no doubt about that.
“What’s the difference between a head coach and a manager? Not much sometimes.
“A leader’s a leader.
“But it’s good to be working with an experienced sporting director, for me as well it’s good for the club.”
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Cooper: Forest now have ‘joined-up’ approach to transfers
There will be so much focus on Forest in the transfer market again this month, after they made an astonishing 22 signings over the summer in the aftermath of ending their 23-year Premier League exile via the Championship play-offs at Wembley.
Manager Steve Cooper has said that the club will not be “ashamed” into not making further moves in a bid to secure top-flight safety, with Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Scarpa having already been brought aboard for this month.
Many of those deemed responsible for the summer chaos have now moved on, with Cooper pleased to have sporting director Filippo Giraldi at the helm and a new joined-up approach to the window.
“What’s different between the last window and this one is Filippo Giraldi is in now as sporting director and he takes a lot of the responsibility for the transfer windows,” Cooper said.
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“I’ve been working really closely with him on a daily basis and the lines of communication are good it’s all joined-up thinking.
“It’s a joined-up approach, there’s no doubt. We’ve had changes in recruitment that people know about.
“Communication lines are good.
“But my focus is on the players who are available to train on a daily basis, ultimately, that’s what my job is.”
Benoit Badiashile to Chelsea update
A further update on Chelsea’s impending move for Benoit Badiashile now.
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano reports that the centre-back has already said goodbye to his team-mates and is not even on the bench for Monaco this afternoon in their Ligue 1 clash with Brest at the Stade Louis II.
His medical with Chelsea is scheduled for Monday, after which he will officially pen terms until the summer of 2029.
Happy with this deal, Blues fans?
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Potter praise for Zakaria
It will be interesting to see if Denis Zakaria retains his place in the Chelsea midfield this afternoon with Mateo Kovacic back in the squad.
After not featuring at all amid a nightmare deadline-day summer loan from Juventus, the Swiss has impressed either side of the World Cup break, proving his worth once again with an all-action display against Bournemouth on Tuesday.
“Whenever Denis has played, he has not let us down,” Graham Potter said at his pre-match press conference.
“He played in the Champions League against [Dinamo] Zagreb and scored, so he has shown his quality.
“I have said before, he has had to be patient because we have some good options in the midfield.
“It has to be remembered we didn’t lose for the first few games, so it was hard for him to get that opportunity.
“But he has remained professional, worked really hard and it is why he got his reward (against Bournemouth) with a decent performance and a contribution to a win.”
Chelsea transfer latest
Chelsea have been proactive in the transfer market so far ahead of January, securing deals for youngsters David Datro Fofana and Andrey Santos from Molde and Vasco da Gama respectively.
However, their senior ranks are also about to get a boost in the form of France international Benoit Badiashile.
Standard Sport’s Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella reports that a £33million fee for the centre-back has now been settled on with Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.
Badiashile has agreed a six-and-a-half-year deal to move to Stamford Bridge this month and will undergo a medical soon.
Graham Potter had been keen to move for another left-sided defender with both Wesley Fofana and Ben Chilwell injured and Thiago Silva yet to pen a contract extension, with the 21-year-old having just 18 months left to run on his deal with Monaco.
Chelsea also remain in talks with Benfica over a blockbuster £105m club-record swoop for Argentina’s World Cup-winning midfielder Enzo Fernandez.
Read the full update in full here
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Potter: No excuses for Chelsea despite injury woe
Graham Potter acknowledges that the World Cup break was not kind to Chelsea, who remain riddled with injury issues as they try desperately to close that daunting eight-point gap to the top four from down in ninth place.
However, the Blues boss insists he will not use such difficulties as an excuse for his side failing to hit the heights under his management so far.
“I am not making excuses. I am just telling you what I think of the situation. We have to deal with it,” Potter said this week.
“The break hasn’t been a positive one for us and I could have made lots of excuses had the result (against Bournemouth) not gone our way.
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“We had four (senior) players for the first two weeks (of the World Cup), then players dripping back in and the break people think we have to work with the players isn’t there.
“But you can’t make those excuses, you just have to win – and we did (against Bournemouth) so that’s good.”
He added: “Our job is to try to get as many people back as we can.
“It has been a real tough period, as challenging as there has been in my time as a coach.
“But we are Chelsea and people don’t want to hear those reasons or excuses. We have got to get on with it and try our best to find the answers.”
Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea prediction
Forest have conjured some fine performances at home against the big boys and will rally in front of a packed house today, but Chelsea have renewed confidence and can be trusted to secure a narrow victory.
Chelsea to win, 1-0.
Chelsea team news
Chelsea had Reece James back in the starting lineup in their much-needed 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Tuesday, yet he suffered a cruel setback early in the second half and is now set for another month on the sidelines.
Wesley Fofana and N’Golo Kante are still out, along with long-term absentee Armando Broja.
Ben Chilwell and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are likely to remain sidelined too today along with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who has a shoulder issue suffered at the World Cup with Senegal.
However, Graham Potter should at least be boosted by the respective returns of Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech, both now back in the fold after their respective exploits in Qatar.
Nottingham Forest team news
Forest boss Steve Cooper is still dealing with an extensive injury list, with the likes of Giulian Biancone, Omar Richards, Cheikhou Kouyate and Moussa Niakhate all still sidelined.
Jesse Lingard faces a late fitness test after a knock that forced him to limp out of the 3-0 defeat by former employers Manchester United on Tuesday night, while club-record signing Morgan Gibbs-White is also set to miss out.
But Dean Henderson is poised to return in goal this afternoon after missing out against his parent club at Old Trafford.