The Premier League is back this weekend and Nottingham Forest travel to Newcastle United to kickstart their campaign.
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest
Premier League | St James’ Park
August 6th 2022 | 3pm (UK)
After 23 long years outside of the Premier League, Forest are finally back in the big time.
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal may start the season but Forest fans have only one fixture in mind – the trip to Tyneside this weekend.
The play-off final win over Huddersfield Town feels like a long time ago now and Forest fans just can’t wait for the season to start.
With the big kick-off just a matter of hours away, we’ve compiled 10 things to know ahead of the game…
1. First meeting since 2018
Forest and Newcastle haven’t locked horns since a League Cup tie back in August 2018.
Forest ran out winners on that night in a truly bonkers game.
Daryl Murphy’s early opener was cancelled out by Salomon Rondon in injury time, only for Matty Cash and Gil Dias to also scored in added time to give Forest the win.
There has been no league meeting between the two teams since December 2016 as Newcastle produced a 3-1 victory over Forest at St James’ Park.
2. Nottingham Forest squad numbers are out
With so many new signings brought in this summer, Forest fans have been wondering what numbers the new faces will wear at Newcastle and for the season ahead.
Forest’s squad numbers have emerged and there is no great shock that Dean Henderson takes number one.
Giulian Biancone takes number two whilst Orel Mangala is number five after his move from Stuttgart.
Neco Williams will wear number seven – something that may divide opinion among some shirt number traditionalists!
Taiwo Awoniyi and Jesse Lingard take numbers nine and 11 respectively; prominent numbers in the final third.
Wayne Hennessey will be number 13, Lewis O’Brien number 14, Harry Toffolo number 15, Moussa Niakhate number 19 and Omar Richards number 27.
3. Who will Forest be facing on Saturday afternoon?
Many expected Newcastle to go on a real spending spree this summer but that hasn’t really materialised just yet.
Nick Pope and Sven Botman have both arrived whilst loanee Matt Targett has signed a permanent deal from Aston Villa.
Pope is likely to go straight into the side between the sticks, with Botman partnering Fabian Schar at centre back.
Targett and Kieran Trippier should be the full backs at left and right back respectively.
Brazilian duo Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton will likely start in midfield with Joe WIllock also featuring.
Miguel Almiron has enjoyed a strong pre-season on the right flank and should join Allan Saint-Maximin in flanking Callum Wilson.
Predicted Newcastle lineup: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Targett; Joelinton, Guimaraes, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin.
4. Is Ryan Yates fit to play?
Forest do have a couple of injury problems heading into the first game of the season and it looks like Ryan Yates will miss out.
Yates was a key part of the Championship campaign last season and will be looking to fend off midfield competition from new signings LewisO’Brien and Orel Mangala.
However, Yates was ruled out for a month back in July and hasn’t quite managed to make it back for the trip to Newcastle.
New signing Omar Richards also won’t be involved after a hairline leg fracture suffered inside two weeks of joining from Bayern Munich.
5. Predicted Nottingham Forest lineup
As you can imagine, Forest are ready to give a host of summer signings their first competitive starts for the club.
Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson will surely start in goal behind a back three of Joe Worrall, new signing Moussa Niakhate and Scott McKenna.
It looks like there will be two new faces at wing back with Neco Williams and Harry Toffolo featuring.
Yates missing out means Jack Colback should partner Lewis O’Brien in midfield, as it may be too soon to throw Orel Mangala into the starting lineup.
Jesse Lingard would then be the number 10, operating behind Brennan Johnson and Taiwo Awoniyi up top.
Mangala is likely to be on the bench, as is fellow new signing Giulian Biancone, whilst Jordan Smith will be a substitute with Wayne Hennessey out.
Predicted Nottingham Forest lineup: Henderson; Worrall, Niakhate, McKenna; Williams, O’Brien, Colback, Toffolo; Lingard; Johnson, Awoniyi.
6. How have Forest fared against Newcastle?
Forest and Newcastle have met a total of 112 times over their history, with the first meeting coming way back in November 1898 – a game that Forest won 2-0.
Newcastle have largely had the better of the meetings over the years, winning 51 games whilst Forest have won just 34.
We mentioned earlier that the last meeting came back in 2018, but the last Premier League game between the two clubs was back in March 1999, just weeks before Forest were relegated.
Newcastle won that game 2-1 at the City Ground, helping send Forest down to the second tier.
What was once a regular fixture through the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s has become more of a rarity, but Forest will be looking to make it a common occurrence by staying in the Premier League.
7. What Steve Cooper has said
Forest boss Cooper spoke to the media earlier today and gave a typically measured verdict on playing in the Premier League.
Cooper understands that being in the Premier League will have everything bigger, but Forest are looking to embrace everything that comes with that.
The Welshman added that Forest want to attack this opportunity in the Premier League, indicating that his style isn’t going to change and that Forest are going to have a real go at the top flight.
“We have talked about things being on a larger scale in every way and we’ve talked openly about that, but we’re looking to embrace, we’re looking to look forward to it, so many of us have worked so hard to be in a position like this and we want to attack it,” said Cooper. “We want to enjoy it and we want to be the best version we can be of ourselves.”
“Obviously that starts on Saturday at Newcastle but every day from that, we want to act and play and behave like a Premier League club,” he added.
8. What the opposition manager has said
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has also spoken ahead of the game, and has been talking about Forest – as seen in this clip from Football Daily.
Howe noted that Newcastle have watched plenty of Forest both last season and over the summer, believing they are now a ‘dangerous’ opponent this weekend.
Howe raved about Cooper, believing that taking Forest up through the play-offs was ‘incredibly difficult’ after missing out on the top flight.
The Magpies boss added that Forest’s summer transfer business has been impressive and is preparing for a very tough game on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve had a good chance to watch them both last season and during pre-season,” said Howe. “They’re dangerous opponents for us. Steve Cooper deserves a huge amount of credit for the job that he did; you look at their league position when he took over to the end of the season, and the job that he did not only just missing out on automatic promotion but to deal with that disappointment and then come through the play-offs, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do.”
“He’s done it in a very attractive style of play, they will be difficult opponents for us and we don’t underestimate them at all. They’ve made a number of good signings, so their squad is deep and we’re prepared for a very difficult game,” he added.
9. Played for both teams
Many players across history have played for both team Forest and Newcastle, with Frank Clark, Jermaine Jenas and Stuart Pearce springing to mind.
Even in the current squads, we see a few players who have worn the famous red of Forest and the black and white stripes of Newcastle.
Newcastle pair Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles both emerged in the Forest ranks before Newcastle struck deals to sign them back in 2014.
It looks likely that neither will start Saturday’s game, but they will no doubt love seeing Forest in the Premier League alongside Newcastle.
On the Forest side, Jack Colback could start against his former club.
Despite emerging at Sunderland, Colback joined bitter rivals Newcastle in 2014, making 102 appearances for the Magpies.
Colback returns on Saturday and will be looking for revenge over his former club.
10. Who is the referee?
Simon Hooper has been named as the referee for Saturday’s game.
Hooper refereed 15 Premier League games last season with no red cards produced across those games.
Hooper also officiated in the Championship at times last season, and took charge of two Forest games.
One was a 3-0 win over Preston North End in November, before Hooper took charge of the 1-1 draw with Hull City on the final day of the season
Forest were given penalties in both of those games; oh how Steve Cooper would love a similar outcome at Newcastle!