When teams come up from the Championship to the Premier League, especially through the playoffs, they often spend a bit of cash in an attempt to retain their top-flight status. However, Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis is going all out to keep Premier League football at the City Ground after a twenty-three-year absence by splurging the millions.
After a somewhat disappointing opening defeat away at Newcastle, which many suggested was caused by the wealth of new players needing time to settle in, the onus was on Steve Cooper and his Forest side to deliver the goods in their first home fixture of the campaign. They were up against a tough West Ham side who performed well last season and who had also suffered a 2-0 reverse in their first game of the season.
In Cooper’s starting XI, there were no fewer than eight new players, but it was arguably one summer arrival in particular who was to be the main focus. Jesse Lingard, who enjoyed a productive loan spell with the Hammers, was said to be making a return to the London Stadium on a permanent basis. However, in the end, Lingard opted to join Forest, much to the dismay of West Ham and their supporters.
Lingard, as you will expect, was up for the occasion and his running and ability to carry the ball at speed had West Ham on the back foot in the early exchanges. When the game settled down, the visitors came into it more, and had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be ruled out for a foul by former Forest man Michail Antonio. And, as so often happens in football, it was then Cooper’s side who took the lead, with one of the many new summer signings, Taiwo Awoniyi, diverting the ball home.
West Ham always posed a threat, and they had a guilt-edged chance to level the match on 65 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after a Scott McKenna handball. But skipper Declan Rice’s effort from the spot was tame, and comfortably saved by an in-form Dean Henderson. Top flight football was back at the City Ground after a two-decade long wait, and its return proved to be a winning one, albeit by a slender 1-0 margin.
After the game, news continued to break that Forest aren’t resting on their laurels in the transfer market, proceeding to wrap up a deal for thirty-year-old Atalanta captain and midfielder Remo Freuler. Reports also suggest that the club are willing to break the bank once again to sign Houssem Aouar of Lyon, with the twenty-four-year-old keen to test himself in the Premier League.
There is one thing that you won’t be able to level at Forest come the end of the season, and that’s a lack of ambition. They could prove to be one of the most ambitious newly promoted teams by September 1, when the transfer window closes.