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Championship: Just how far can Cooper carry Forest?

Nottingham Forest have been on the rise since Steve Cooper arrived at the City Ground and a promotion push is firmly on the cards.

Forest, priced at 9/4 to seal a top-six spot, made a terrible start to 2021-22 with Chris Hughton at the helm.

Hughton was sacked seven games into the campaign with Forest sitting bottom of the standings and without a single victory to their name.

They had lost the opening four games of the term and had just a solitary point when the former Newcastle United and Brighton boss was shown the door.

Cooper making big impression

Cooper, who lost last season's play-off final with Swansea City, was quickly drafted in to improve the club's fortunes and it appears to be an inspired appointment.

Their rise up the standings has been nothing short of remarkable and Wednesday's 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers moved them into the top six for the first time this term.

That victory over promotion rivals Rovers was the latest statement performance following recent wins over Premier League duo Arsenal and Leicester City in the FA Cup.

The former England under-17 boss has instilled an incredible amount of confidence in his players, urging them to play on the front foot, and his troops are thriving.

Championship Standings

PositionTeamPlayedPoimts
1Fulham2961
2Bournemouth2955
3Blackburn Rovers3153
4Queens Park Rangers2952
5Huddersfield Town3149
6Nottingham Forest3046
7Middlesbrough2946

Grabban back among the goals

Lewis Grabban, in particular, has found a new lease of life with Cooper at the helm with the current philosophy playing to his strengths.

The 34-year-old currently sits on 12 league goals and 10 of those have been scored since the switch in the dugout.

There's plenty to like about Forest's attacking options with academy graduate Brennan Johnson also having a major impact.

Johnson notched his eighth goal of the term in the victory over Blackburn and it's no surprise to see him linked with several Premier League teams.

Making the most of momentum is essential in the ever-unpredictable Championship and Cooper's January business has further strengthened his hand.

Grabban is currently sidelined with an ankle injury and unlikely to return until mid-March, but January arrival Keinan Davis, who joined on loan from Aston Villa, has already shown he is capable of deputising.

Davis has chipped in with two goals and two assists in seven appearances across all competitions and his hold-up play has been extraordinary.

There has also been a vast improvement defensively as Forest control possession of the ball much better. The two-time European champions failed to keep a clean sheet before Cooper landed in Nottinghamshire, but they now boast nine.

With some testing weeks ahead as they look to seal a top-six spot for the first time since 2010-11, Forest, who are 8/1 to be promoted, will need to remain tight at the back.

Next up is a home meeting with Stoke City at 15:00 on Saturday, as Forest seek a fifth successive victory at the City Ground.

Forest are 13/10 to pick up all three points against the Potters, who sit 11th and four points shy of the play-offs, with the hosts 11/4 to win by a one-goal margin, with both teams to score is priced at 10/11.

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Free-scoring Fulham looking unstoppable

Fulham are on the right track to earn an immediate return to the Premier League as they continue to churn out hugely exciting performances.

The Cottagers are six points clear of Bournemouth at the top of the standings and they are comfortably the top scorers in the division, netting 77 times in 29 outings.

Another high-scoring victory could be on the cards on Saturday when they head to Hull City at 15:00, with both teams to score available at 10/11.

The Tigers are 12 points clear of the drop zone but they are riding a two-game losing streak and, in contrast to Fulham, have found goals extremely hard to come by.

Only Peterborough United and Barnsley, who sit in the relegation zone, have scored fewer than Hull's tally of 26.

With at least three goals scored in 17 of Fulham's 29 engagements it could be worth exploring an away win by a two-goal margin at 7/2.

Tangerine test for Cherries

Second-placed Bournemouth head north to take on Blackpool at 15:00, as they attempt to keep some pressure on Fulham.

The Cherries were the pacesetters in the division through October and into November, but they failed to win in six at the end of 2021 and have subsequently allowed the Cottagers to pull away.

Scott Parker has managed to galvanise his side over the past few weeks and victories over Barnsley and Birmingham City have breathed confidence back into their promotion push.

However, a trip to Blackpool could prove tricky this weekend when taking into account the Seasiders' performances against promotion contenders.

Blackpool held Bournemouth to a 2-2 draw in the reverse at the Vitality, coming from two goals down to seal a point, while they have picked up four points from two meetings with leaders Fulham.

Neil Critchley's side also beat third-placed Blackburn 2-1 in October and they have made Bloomfield Road a fortress over recent times.

They have won each of their last three home fixtures, keeping two clean sheets, and Bournemouth could be set for a rough ride, with the hosts 3/1 to come out on top on the North-West coast.

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