Here are four things that we learnt after Nottingham Forest further moved away from the relegation zone with a 3-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers…
Glenn Murray still has it
A few eyebrows were raised when Glenn Murray was picked to start ahead of Lyle Taylor – especially given his lack of playing time at Watford – but any fears were eased after seven minutes.
A Gaetan Bong lofted through ball towards Murray saw him hold his man off, spin him to get to the ball first and then dink the keeper on the half volley from 25 yards out.
It was an incredible finish and almost certainly a club goal of the season contender, while also reminding everyone that he can still play.
Later on, his penalty – which he won – put the game beyond doubt for the Reds, albeit via a touch from the keeper.
Forest need to stick to their gameplan with a slight lead
Normally a goal brings a sense of calm to a side, however after Murray’s opener, Forest fell to bits and completely lost control of the game.
Rather than play football, Forest got sucked down to Wycombe’s level and were incredibly lucky to go into the half time break a goal up after a number of catastrophic passages of play.
Forest are a much better side than Wycombe, but the way they were panicking on the ball, misplacing simple passes and making elementary errors was a huge concern.
All Forest needed to do was take an extra second on the ball to retain control, which they did in the second half to great effect.
Alarmingly, this isn’t anything new – the most recent example was the second half in the 2-1 win against Coventry City, again after Forest scored to take the lead.
It’s something that manager Chris Hughton needs to look into, as better sides will capitalise on that nervousness much more ruthlessly.
Luke Freeman isn’t working out
One of the most anticipated summer signings was Luke Freeman on loan from Sheffield United, but so far it’s fair to say it hasn’t worked out so far .
While granted he’s had to recover from an injury recently, ever since he arrived, Freeman has looked unfit and off the pace and the Wycombe game was no exception.
There were some glimpses of what he’s capable of – some good hold up play and the odd pass – but it’s fair to say Forest expected a lot more from the attacking midfielder Sheffield United once broke their transfer record for.
His general positioning also seemed to inhibit Filip Krovinovic too, while him drifting around the pitch also meant that full backs were doubled up on as he wasn’t in a position to track back.
Forest expect – and ultimately need – much more from the former Arsenal man.
Joe Lolley takes his chance
The 2020/21 season has been tough for Joe Lolley, with the dynamic winger not being at his best by any stretch of the imagination.
With Sammy Ameobi injured, it was always likely Lolley would get on at some point, especially as Freeman is still not fully up to speed.
He took his opportunity with both hands and looked menacing as soon as he got on, with the winger almost scoring on the volley with his first touch of the ball.
Two minutes later, Lolley brilliantly controlled James Garner’s diagonal pass, beat his man and then cut it back expertly for Anthony Knockaert to lash home Forest’s third.
An on-form Lolley will feel like a new signing for Forest and the 28-year-old now has three assists in three games, which certainly gives Hughton some food for thought.
Can Nottingham Forest afford to look up the table following this win over Wycombe Wanderers?