36 mins: Aurier curls in a cross from the right with his left foot for Kouyate to attack but the midfielder gets no power into it and Martinez easily grabs hold.
34 mins: Young catches Dennis on the ankle, much to the Nigerian’s dismay.
Buendia and Coutinho are such incredibly creative players but they have barely been involved thus far.
32 mins: Villa enjoying a good spell of possession as Forest look to stay in their compact defensive shape to keep them at bay.
30 mins: Douglas Luiz is in a heap on the floor after being caught by Freuler. He eventually gets up after not being given a free-kick.
28 mins: Cook is now on four bookings in five games, which is not the sign of a man up to speed with the level he is playing at.
26 mins: NO GOAL! McGinn plays the ball out to the left for Ramsey to cross into the box to a waiting Watkins to slide home from close range, only to see the offside raised and the goal is rightly disallowed.
Cook goes into the book for lunging at Ramsey inside the Villa box. What a poor challenge from the defender.
24 mins: This all feels a little familiar … Forest need to regain their composure. Cooper was unhappy with a challenge on Yates in the box before the goal but there was nothing in it.
GOAL! Nottingham Forest 1-1 Aston Villa (Young, 22)
WHAT A HIT! Cook heads the ball out to Young, who takes a touch and absolutely pings a low shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
19 mins: Aurier slides in on Ramsey and is rightly booked for a reckless challenge. It looks like the defender went in with two feet off the floor. There is a quick VAR check and the yellow card is seen as a suitable punishment. Aurier really is a liability at times.
17 mins: Forest will have to make sure they are less open than in previous losses at City Ground when they took the lead against Bournemouth and Fulham before losing.
GOAL! Nottingham Forest 1-0 Aston Villa (Dennis, 15)
Gibbs-White swings in the free-kick from the right onto the head of Dennis who is left unmarked and nods home from seven yards out. Huge moment for Forest but they have given up leads before.
14 mins: Johnson cuts inside and sends a cross into the box but Dennis is nowhere to be seen and Villa clear. Dennis does better seconds later as he is fouled by Mings on the right to gift Forest a free-kick in a dangerous area.
13 mins: Coutinho whacks the free-kick straight into McKenna’s face which is good news for Forest but less so for the defender.
12 mins: Buendia bursts through Freuler and Kouyate, and is fouled by bother of them around 25 yards from goal. Coutinho and Douglas Luiz line it up …
10 mins: When defending it looks like Johnson and Gibbs-White are playing as auxiliary full-backs. Cooper really is trying to make Forest harder to break down tonight.
8 mins: Forest not offering anything in the final third. Dennis is yet to touch the ball.
Cash breaks down the right but his cross is pretty woeful and ends up going out for a throw-in on the opposite side.
6 mins: Buendia is on the deck after a midair clash with Freuler. Looks like the Argentinian has sore ribs following the incident.
4 mins: Buendia looks to slide a ball through for Watkins but he is cleaned out in the process by a late foul from Toffolo. The left-back is lucky to get away without a booking.
Douglas Luiz takes a short corner to McGinn whose shot is blocked. Forest look a little flat.
2 mins: It is a back four for Forest. Will Cook be able to cope with Watkins? They are defending with five across midfield currently.
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
Cooper comes out for a round of applause from the fans and takes his place in the dugout.
Steve Cooper: “I was recently disappointed with the performance and result at Leicester. Having reviewed it, it was far away from what we want.
“There’s been some strong conversations and reflections, which have come from the players as well. That’s how we like to work.
“I make no secret that we do have a lot of new players, so we are trying to find the right blend and team. What I will say about changes, it gives opportunities and when you are given them, you have to take them.”
“The sight of players like Henderson and Lingard in the squad is a reminder that this club won two European Cups with plenty of ‘rejects’ with a point to prove in Clough and Taylor’s teams,” emails Justin Kavanagh. “Could Kouyaté be the next Kenny Burns? Those days are probably gone but it’s good to see a coach get a chance to at least try to build a new team.”
I think Burns arrived with the best years ahead of him, I am not sure the same could be said of Kouyate.
A new face at the City Ground. How hands on will Filippo Giraldi be? It will be interesting to see what he has planned.
Like some of the readers, I have very fine memories on Monday nights in Nottingham, as Martin can confirm.
It is five changes in total which is a sign of how tough Cooper has found it to nail down a starting XI following the influx of players. It is interesting to see that Lingard is on the bench for this one – he has really looked off the pace since arriving on a free. The expensive gamble looks a poor one at the moment.
Matty Cash is back where it all started.
I am guessing it will be a 4-3-3 for Forest because Cooper could use Kouyate as a centre-back and carry on with just two central midfielders but this system has not worked in the Premier League following its success last season.
Some interesting Forest team news because Dennis makes his full league debut, Aurier is preferred at right-back, Steve Cook keeps his place and it looks like Cooper is adopting a three-man central midfield.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Henderson; Aurier, Cook, McKenna, Toffolo; Kouyate, Freuler, Yates; Gibbs-White, Dennis, Johnson
Subs: Hennessey, Boly, Worrall, Williams, O’Brien, Mangala, Lingard, Awoniyi, Surridge
Aston Villa (4-3-2-1): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, J Ramsey, Douglas Luiz; Buendia, Coutinho; Watkins
Subs: Olsen, Sanson, Ings, Chambers, Bednarek, Dendoncker, Archer, Bogarde, Nakamba
What another week it has been on the Nottingham Forest Premier League rollercoaster. After their 4-0 thumping at Leicester last Monday it looked like Steve Cooper’s days at the City Ground were numbered. They have sounded out replacements but in the end Cooper signed a new contract, much to the surprise of many in Nottingham. When not trying to find a new head coach, the club were also dealing with claims that their chief executive and the recruitment team were getting their marching orders, which transpired to not be true.
Forest have four points from eight games after their summer of signing almost an entire new squad. If they beat Villa this evening, however, they will only be one point behind Steve Gerrard’s side in the table. Admittedly, Forest have lost their past five matches so it is a tough but they achievable task ahead of them.
Villa come here as the sideshow, few remembering what an earth they have done recently due to circus at City Ground. They are unbeaten since the end of August and will be optimistic of extending that run against the league’s bottom club.
Let’s hope for a cracker!
Kick-off: 8pm BST