It’s a time of new, or renewed, resolutions and fresh starts as we turn the page from 2022 to 2023. Of course, that’s just a symbolic event, outside of maybe a few new traffic and tax laws going into effect ... plus all the local idiots lighting off fireworks to scare my dogs and start a few fires.
But I digress.
Chelsea came into 2022 on the back of a terrible December (12 points from 21), battling injuries (Ben Chilwell, Reece James) and interviews (Romelu Lukaku) and COVID concerns. (And that was nothing compared to what the following few months would bring!)
Chelsea come into 2023 on the back of a terrible month (2 points from 15) — and subsequent break and win, so 8 points from 21 — battling injuries (Ben Chilwell, Reece James, and many more) and various other concerns, including the part where we’re not comfortably in the top-four unlike twelve months ago.
What will the next few months bring? Let’s start it off on a good note!
Date / Time: January 1, 2023, 16.30 GMT; 11:30am EST; 10pm IST
Venue: City Ground, Nottingham, England
Referee: Peter Bankes (on pitch); Andre Marriner (VAR)
Forecast: Breezy but dry
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Nottingham Forest team news: Forest are back in the Premier League after a 23-year absence, and they raised a few eyebrows by putting together practically a brand new team over the summer, with no fewer than 22 (twenty-two!) new arrivals and 20 (twenty!) departures (including a bunch of loanees returning to their parent clubs).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were not exactly a cohesive or capable unit for a while, notching just 1 win from their first 11 league games. But Steve Cooper has turned things around somewhat, and they do have two wins and seven points from their last five, moving them off the bottom of the table. In fact, that’s three points better than our record over that same span, so Graham Potter’s probably right to be wary. Former Liverpool loan warrior and Union Berlin striker Taiwo Awoniyi leads the team in scoring with three goals.
In less wary news, record-signing Morgan Gibbs-White remains out, while Jesse Lingard picked up a knock in their previous game. Cheikhou Kouyaté, Moussa Niakhaté, Omar Richards, and Giulian Biancone are dealing with long-term injuries. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson returns from being ineligible against his parent club.
Chelsea team news: The fifty minutes of Reece James we got to enjoy against Bournemouth will have to be enough for the next month or so, as our talismanic right back has reaggravated his knee injury. So that’s a problem, especially as we looked considerably worse after his departure in that game as well.
Numbers in training have been boosted by the returns of Mateo Kovačić and Hakim Ziyech, but that’s about it for good news in terms of injuries and availabilities. Édouard Mendy, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Wesley Fofana will hopefully be back soon-ish, but Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kanté, Armando Broja are out long-term.
Chelsea would move up (up!) into the seventh (woo!) place with a win, and close the gap to seven points to third-place Newcastle United, who were held to a scoreless draw by Leeds United today. We can make a race out of the top-four/-six yet! (Manchester City also dropped points while Arsenal won easily — though they almost [FUNNED] it up — which is annoying, but the title race is not our fight.)
Previously: Since our last league meeting, we’ve beaten Forest three times in the FA Cup and once in the League Cup, all at Stamford Bridge. That last Premier League match, in February 1999, was our last visit to the City Ground, with Chelsea winning 3-1: Mikael Forssell and Bjarne “traded for Brian Laudrup” Goldbæk scored, the latter twice! Back in 1999, everything was filmed with a potato.