Steve Cooper is not setting survival targets for Nottingham Forest despite a superb 2023 to date, with the club focused simply on amassing as many as they can ahead of their Premier League trip to Fulham.
No other side has won more points than the City Ground outfit since the new year in the top-flight, to lift them six clear of the relegation zone and potentially push them away from the dogfight at the wrong end of the table.
But Cooper, who weathered several drubbings in his start to Premier League life, is not handing out goals to his players, wanting them to simply continue pushing forward for as long as they can this term.
“I don’t want to put a number on it,” he said. “There is a lot of work going on to try to get everything to the level we want it to be – the playing style, the culture, the togetherness in the group.
“There is a lot of work to do. Of course we have enjoyed the wins and the points we have got. No point comes easy in the Premier League, though – every successful game we have had, we’ve basically had to give everything.
“We’re enjoying that, thriving on it and motivated. We’ve still only won one game away from home this season. That’s not the position we want to be in. We’re not at the end of anything – this is still a new group of players fighting to compete. We are yet to see where we end up, so will give it a good go, that’s for sure.”
Opposite number Marco Silva has also seen his Cottagers team overperform expectations to sit near the upper end of mid-table, and he hopes for them to keep up their form too.
“Of course we are really pleased with it,” he added. “The players have been brilliant this season so far – and I have to say last season too. This kind of mentality, we have to keep creating inside the dressing room, the players have to have the right mindset as well.
“It’s not something that comes so easily and this season has been very good work from all the players, and I have to congratulate them. Of course, we are pleased with the season so far, but again, we haven’t achieved anything yet. We want more. We are a really ambitious club and a group of players and we want more.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fulham – Aleksandar Mitrovic
The Serbia international is Fulham’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with 11 goals, though he hasn’t scored in any of his last three appearances. The last Fulham player to net more in a single top-flight campaign was Dimitar Berbatov in 2012-13 (15).
Forest – Keylor Navas
The Costa Rica international made four saves and kept a clean sheet in his Premier League debut against Leeds last time out. The last Forest keeper to record a shutout in his first two league starts for the club was Paul Smith, who did so in his first three in August 2006.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Fulham have won six of their last eight league games against Nottingham Forest, though both defeats in that run have come in home games.
– Nottingham Forest have won their last two away league games against Fulham, beating them in the Championship in August 2019 and April 2022. They’d never previously won consecutive away matches against the Cottagers.
– Following their 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest in the reverse fixture, Fulham could complete the Premier League double over an opponent for the first time since 2013-14, when they did so against both Aston Villa and Norwich City.
– Having failed to score just twice in their first 19 Premier League games this season, Fulham have now gone three games without a goal in the competition. They’ve not gone four league games without a goal since a run of five in December 1999.
– Nottingham Forest are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games (W3 D2), their longest run within a single top-flight season since their first 12 matches in 1995-96.