Date: 14th January 2017 at 11:29am
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Renewed optimism seems to have hit Birmingham City this week. With the signing of Gardner, a fan favourite, as well as the draw against Newcastle in the FA Cup, signs are all pointing in the right direction for a recovery under Zola. The test comes against teams like Nottingham Forest though, who we play today at home, because these teams are scrapping for points and we have to match their desire to win.

Nottingham Forest are a funny team in the fact that they’re unpredictable. They often concede a lot of goals but they score quite a few also with some very bad results such as in the FA Cup against strugglers Wigan. They have lost their last 4 in all competitions including against Barnsley and Newcastle so their confidence may be low and we have to take full advantage of this.

However, one player always seems to produce the goods even if the other 10 around him are losing their heads. Amidst bids from clubs for Lansbury, this player has really stepped up to take the midfield role by storm when Lansbury has had a couple of mediocre games and it is due to this player why they have picked up points. The player in question is Ben Osborn and Nottingham Forest have a lot to thank him for.

There are certain players who often get overlooked in teams and I think that Osborn falls into this category. The slim-built midfielder is often in the shadow of Lansbury who scores the spectacular goals and dives in with the sliding challenges. But it is Osborn who does the hard graft. He is one of those players that never seems to tire; they just keep running and running. He gets into the faces of the opposition and niggles at their heels until either they make a mistake, or he wins the ball off of them. He is like a terrier and won’t give up on any ball.

He is also the focal point in terms of passing for the team. Despite not being able to spread the ball long distances like a Scholes-type player might, he keeps possession and keeps the ball moving. He rarely gives the ball away as he is so precise in his side foot but he also doesn’t just pass the ball backwards; he is always looking to attack by laying the ball off to the more skillful and pacey players around him. He is the glue that holds their team together.

He won’t really be a threat to us in the box as he has only scored 1 goal this season and his job isn’t really to push that far up the field so in terms of him being a goalscorer, I think we can all agree that he is not. But if we stop him passing the ball out, then we can slow the game down and this will play into our hands. I would also advocate us using our wingers effectively as Forest tend to ship a lot of goals via crosses rather than through the middle probably due to how effective Osborn is.

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