As these teams meet for their 91st league outing, they will do so with the knowledge of last season’s encounters fresh in the mind. In both cases, the home team dominated and left the away fans smarting not just with a sense of disappointment, but shame.
That the home side has consistently held the upper hand in these encounters is well known. Forest have won just 8 league games in Leicester, the Foxes on just 10 occasions at the City Ground. But last season’s games were unusually lopsided. City’s 3-0 demolition of Forest at the Walkers Stadium was Leicester’s biggest win over the Reds since 1966. Likewise Forest hadn’t beaten City by four goals since 1994.
But for last week’s surprise win at Cardiff (only Forest’s second away victory of the campaign after overcoming rock-bottom Preston), Billy Davies’ side would have come into this match looking unlikely to overturn these recent patterns. In the context of last week’s win however, a number of statistics bring a sense of foreboding.
Forest are unbeaten in four and have lost just one of the last seven. The Forest defence has been breached just 16 times, making them as stingy as Swansea. Indeed, only QPR (5) have conceded fewer on the road than Forest (10). This defensive solidity has meant Billy Davies’ team have been beaten just three times.
But defensive solidity has come at a price. Forest have scored just 21 goals, their inability to turn draws into wins has led to a Championship high of seven 1-1 scorelines. Indeed exactly half of the Reds’ 18 league fixtures have finished level. Only Millwall and Sheffield United have scored twice or more in a game on fewer occasions than Forest (5). It all means the loss of Dexter Blackstock, one of only three Forest players to score more than one league goal this season, is a big one.
Unlike Forest, Leicester have spread the goals a little more evenly, though this is not to say the Foxes are taking their chances. Before the weekend’s fixtures City’s chance conversion rate (9.35% of attempts result in a goal) was the Championship’s fourth worst. But City fans should take comfort in the fact that they have yet to taste defeat at home in the post-Sousa era.
Morale amongst the players won’t be too great if that little nugget doesn’t hold though. As well as losing what Alan Birchenall this weekend called ‘the big one’, defeat would see the Foxes exactly the same number of points away from the playoffs (8) as when Sven took over 59 days ago. Square one indeed.