Are Forest relying too much on Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio?

Forest City Ground

Are Nottingham Forest leaning too heavily on Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio when it comes to attacking spark in the final third?

Nottingham Forest have scored 23 Championship goals this season, with 16 of them provided by Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio.

The latter has actually been involved in more than half of Forest’s total return, having netted seven times and laid on a further six assists.

It can, of course, be argued that the pair are doing precisely what they are paid to do, with some £6.5 million shelled out over the summer to acquire their services from Peterborough United and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.

Assombalonga was snapped up as a goalscorer, and has not disappointed, while Antonio has proven himself to be a useful source of creativity in the second tier and a nuisance to the best defences in the division.

They cannot, however, be expected to shoulder the burden between them over the course of a 46-game slog.

There will, inevitably, be dips in form - with Forest having already endured one run of three games without a goal – as well as injuries and suspensions to contend with. What do Forest do then?

A quick look at the Opta stats for the season so far regarding key aspects in the final third of the field show that other players expected to produce that much sought-after spark just have not been delivering, for a variety of reasons.

  TeamPosGoalsGoal AssistTotal Scoring AttTotal PassAppsMins
Britt Assombalonga Nott'm Forest FW 9 0 44 180 14 1,259
Michail Antonio Nott'm Forest MF 7 6 44 323 14 1,149
Chris Burke Nott'm Forest MF 1 2 11 300 14 1,217
Henri Lansbury Nott'm Forest MF 1 3 17 279 9 679
Jamie Paterson Nott'm Forest FW 1 0 4 32 5 90
Andy Reid Nott'm Forest MF 0 1 13 298 6 492

Chris Burke was a long-standing target for Forest before finally being snapped up as a free agent at the end of his contract at Birmingham City, and he is another of those to have shown that he can be virtually unplayable on his day.

He has not had enough of those days so far, though, along with Henri Lansbury, whose form is becoming something of a concern.

Did Premier League interest during the recent transfer window turn his head, shift his focus and leave him thinking what might have been? It should not have done as he was handsomely rewarded with a new contract at the City Ground and charged with the task of becoming playmaker-in-chief – particularly in the absence of the talismanic Andy Reid.

To be fair to Jamie Paterson, he has had limited opportunities in which to prove his worth and may have benefited more from a loan spell elsewhere as Antonio burst of the blocks and Stuart Pearce favoured the experience of Burke on the other flank.

He is, however, part of a group of players that need to start shaking off the shackles and offer more to the collective cause, with Forest now without a win in eight games in all competitions.

There is still a long way to go, with there only four points separating the Reds from the automatic promotion places, but sharing the load will be the name of the game from this point on, with it important for Pearce to start getting more from those already on his books and keep hounding his board to push through a much-discussed loan deal in the middle of the park.

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