For the first time since 1999, Nottingham Forest will play in the top division of English Football. The Tricky Trees earned their promotion the hard way, starting last season 1-1-6 (Win-Draw-Loss) before qualifying for the play-off thanks to a magical run under new manager Steve Cooper.
As is often the case with newly-promoted sides, Cooper and Forest had a busy offseason to replace players whose loan deals had run out, in addition to bolstering the squad for the Premier League.
Nottingham Forest vs. Newcastle odds, pick
Even with some shrewd additions over the summer like Jesse Lingard, Taiwo Awoniyi, Neco Williams and Orel Mangala, the bookmakers aren’t too keen on Forest’s chances of staying up in the top flight. The Tricky Trees are +110 to be relegated, which ties them with fellow newcomers Fulham for second-shortest odds behind Bournemouth, who are odds-on favorites at -210.
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Acknowledging the floor for a team like Forest is quite low and there’s risk to making this assertion, there are reasons to believe that the former European Champions could catch everyone by surprise (not unlike Brentford last season) thanks to their manager.
While there’s reason to believe that Forest could be underrated by the market, Newcastle is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Thanks to the mega-investment in the club from the, uh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Magpies are now flush with cash and have spent it wisely to date. Bruno Guimaraes, Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn, Nick Pope and Matty Cash give Eddie Howe a solid foundation to build on, but it does feel like bettors are getting caught up in the hype a little bit with Newcastle.
Sure, the Magpies were much improved when the new owners came in and hired Howe, but that isn’t saying much considering how poor they were before the takeover. Newcastle went 11-1-5 (W-D-L) with a +4 goal difference after the January transfer shut, but its underlying metrics were not that impressive as it posted a -0.7 expected goal differential in that span.
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And it’s also fair to be skeptical of just how solid Newcastle’s defense will be under Howe. When he arrived at St. James Park last winter, the goal was clear: Survive. When that is the case, coaches — even those with more free-flowing philosophies like Howe — will always tend to be more pragmatic and set up more defensively.
With the threat of relegation gone by the wayside, Howe will likely implement a more buccaneering style for Newcastle and that could open them up to the counter-attack against a counter-attacking team like Nottingham Forest.
There’s no doubt here that Newcastle are a much stronger side than Nottingham Forest, but the pricing here is out of control. The Tricky Trees are a live underdog on Saturday.
Nottingham Forest vs. Newcastle pick
Nottingham Forest +475 — FanDuel