Adrian Clarke: Don't Write Off Forest

12 min

A split weekend last time out for Adrian Clarke, and he’s armed with two confident Premier League tips for the weekend…

We’re heading to Arsenal vs Liverpool on Sunday, but first, it’s Monday Night Football from the City Groud.


Tipping up a pro-Nottingham Forest angle feels a little odd, I must admit (they have lost five in a row after all!) but that’s how I’m feeling ahead of what I believe is a winnable home fixture on Monday night.

The club’s decision to hand head coach Steve Cooper a new long-term contract this week, was not only a monumental surprise but also the best call they could have made in these difficult times.

It will have transformed the mood on the banks of the River Trent.

Cooper is a legend at Nottingham Forest. The supporters adore him for the way he expertly turned a boring relegation-threatened Championship team into a Premier League outfit in the space of nine spectacular months.

And the notion of sacking him on the back of a poor start was abhorrent to a fanbase who understand how hard it must be to try and gel more than 20 new signings into a cohesive unit overnight.

Trust me, the City Ground will be rocking when Mull of Kintyre is belted out ahead of kick-off, and it could set the players up nicely for an uplifting night’s work at home to Aston Villa.

Bet Now

Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa side are far from formidable.

Dating back to March, they have failed to win eight of their last nine away matches, losing six of them.

During the current campaign, they have picked up just a single point on the road, and that was from a goalless draw at ten-man Leeds United.

So, to see them placed as short as 2.24 to win at Forest doesn’t sit comfortably with me. Not with that modest away record to consider.

Yes, Cooper’s new-look side were shambolic last time out at Leicester City and yes, they have conceded 21 goals in eight games. But poor runs like this must end at some point.

In forward areas, Nottingham Forest have more than enough talent to cause Villa problems.

The likes of Brennan Johnson, Morgan Gibbs-White, Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis are too lively to be kept in the shadows long term.

steve cooper

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper has been given the board’s backing with a new long-term contract.

Forest did score twice on home turf in topsy-turvy losses against Bournemouth and Fulham, and they also beat West Ham United 1-0 at the City Ground too.

The stats also tell me they’ve had more shots than Aston Villa this season.

The Villains have tightened up of late and can be stubborn, but away from home they have kept just two clean sheets in nine. Water-tight they are not.

Roused by a positive atmosphere, I anticipate a fired-up performance from Nottingham Forest under the lights.

With the Grim Reaper no longer hovering over Cooper’s shoulders, I can see his players and the fans responding with an explosion of positivity on and off the pitch.

Whether that will be enough to claim all three points, I’m not sure, but the beauty of my selection here is that it doesn’t matter.

I want to get the draw onside by backing Nottingham Forest on a +0.5 handicap at 1.73.

This looks like the type of match and moment in their campaign for a bounce-back to kick into gear.


When you see Both Teams To Score priced up as low as 1.56, it’s pretty clear that goals are fancied, and that’s very much the case ahead of an eagerly anticipated Arsenal vs Liverpool clash on Sunday afternoon.

The Gunners are flying right now. Bagging 20 goals in eight games, their average of 2.5 goals per match leaps to 2.75 at Emirates Stadium.

Anyone that’s seen how much Liverpool have struggled defensively this season, especially Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk, will sense that Mikel Arteta’s men have what it takes to cause the Merseysiders a lot of trouble in North London.

It’s about time Arsenal did as well. Remarkably they have failed to score in their last six meetings with Jurgen Klopp’s side in all competitions.

That barren run has to end this time around, doesn’t it?

Bet Now

The skill and slippery movement of Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli should certainly be troublesome for an ageing Liverpool outfit who featured seven starters over 30 last weekend.

If Klopp sticks with an attacking 4-4-2, the system he used in midweek against Glasgow Rangers, you’d have to fancy the Gunners, even more, to create opportunities aplenty.

Liverpool have some decent forwards of their own of course, and despite their league-leading form, Arteta’s men haven’t kept a home clean sheet in nine league games.

Last season’s runners-up have scored in 10 of their last 11 on the road, and you’d have to back them to find the net at least once an open encounter. They haven’t failed to score in 13 games against the Gunners either.

Arsenal will attack the match like they did the North London derby, flying forward with intent but occasionally leaving themselves light at the back – and it’s hard to see Liverpool approaching matters differently.

So many of their players, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota especially, also love scoring goals against the Arsenal. It is a fixture that usually brings the best out of them.

premier league tips

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side sits top of the Premier League table, but Sunday’s game with Liverpool will be a stern test.

This bears all the hallmarks of an absolute firecracker. You attack. We attack.

This Arsenal v Liverpool duel could be one of the most exciting matches of the entire campaign.

I can’t tell you who will prevail. Liverpool would ordinarily be favourites, but I view this as a proper 50-50 game.

For me it has to be a goals angle, and the one I fancy most is Over 2.5/3.0 goals at 1.76.

The only way we fail to make a profit is if there are two goals or fewer, and I doubt there will be many queuing up to put money on that.

Let’s hope this Big Six shootout lives up to the hype.


  • Nottingham Forest +0.5 vs Aston Villa (1.73)
  • Arsenal vs Liverpool Over 2.5/3.0 Goals (1.76)

Watch Adrian Clarke On Our Premier League Podcast

  • Subscribe to the Matchbook YouTube channel here
  • Subscribe to the Matchbook Betting Podcast here