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Match preview: Nottingham Forest v Derby County

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Optimism is a dangerous thing, so we apologise in advance for being too upbeat about Forest's chances against Derby this weekend. No way that can end well...

Laurence Griffiths

Confidence is a dangerous thing. It can lead to all sorts of disappointment. We've all gone into a job interview, or a date, feeling absolutely pumped, confident and utterly convinced that there's no possible way this could go wrong.

Of course, the grime of this world has a habit of booting you in the crotch, dear, and often at the most painful moments. If having a Doc Marten to the plums isn't painful enough.

So the confidence that those at In The Top One HQ have going into Sunday's game against Derby is terrible news. We have, with the hazy glow of success staying over us across the international break, become utterly convinced that Forest will, to use a rather robust phrase, give Derby a right going over. There's simply no way we can fail. We cannot possibly be beaten. There's every chance we will never lose a game ever again.

At this point, painful though it is, we should probably try to prick this bubble of comical optimism by watching what happened at Pride Park last season.

Thanks to some industrial-strength therapy, I'd blocked out how good that Johnny Russell goal was.

Forest have, by common consensus, played pretty well so far this season. Those many wins and those zero defeats are testament enough to that, plus all those goals, and that we've been doing all this without a few players that would get in most people's first-choice XIs.

And by Sunday some of those players might well be back and in contention to play. Henri Lansbury is of course back, Jamaal Lascelles got 90 minutes in for the England Under-21s in mid-week while Kelvin Wilson has a couple of full games for the kids under his belt now too. Only David Vaughan, barring some late recovery that we don't yet know about, will be missing.

Stuart Pearce has spoken of the 'good headache' that a manager is obliged to mention when presented with a surfeit of options, but it must be a nightmare for him weighing up which players to pick. He has of course shown he's willing to change a winning side, switching things around to suit the situation, so one wonders whether he will be brave enough to alter a successful formula against Derby.

Assuming he reverts to a rough 4-4-2 formation for the home game, having played 4-2-3-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, how does he fit Andy Reid, Chris Cohen and Henri Lansbury into the team? Is that even sensible? Against Derby's incredibly strong three-man midfield, is it wise to weaken that area of the pitch? 'Good' problems they are, in that having too many players is obviously better than too few, but Pearce will be scratching his head before Sunday.

Still, against all logic given the last encounter, we will all be going into this game with some amount of confidence.


Let's end on a positive note...