Nottingham Forest seem to have found some calm amongst the chaos this season. After another summer of spending, which included seven new arrivals on deadline day, Steve Cooper looks to have created a harmonious and settled squad. Forest have lost just one of their last six games, with that defeat coming to Manchester City, and this is thanks in no small part to their all-action Argentinian Nicolas Dominguez.
The 25-year-old arrived on deadline day from Bologna for a reported €10 million fee, signing a five-year contract, and whilst he had to wait a while for his debut, the midfielder is now a firm fixture in Forest’s squad. A product of the Velez Sarsfield academy, Dominguez combines tough tackling with technical astuteness, helping him both regain and retain possession with consummate ease.
Dominguez is not shy of a tackle – he ranked in the top ten for tackles won in Serie A during his final two years at Bologna. But with the ball at his feet, he displays a calmness that negates his ferocity out of possession. Dominguez completed the most through balls of any player in Serie A last season, whilst Forest ranked 19th for through balls across the Premier League during the 2022-23 campaign.
Following promotion from the Championship, Forest averaged just 37.1% possession last season, the lowest of any team in the Premier League, and Cooper knows that whilst they need to gain more control of games, how they use the ball when in possession will be crucial to ensuring they become more of a threat going forward – only Everton and Wolves scored fewer goals than Forest last year.
The 25-year-old Argentine midfielder is still finding his feet in England, with Taiwo Awoniyi’s goals continuing to prop up a Forest side on borrowed time. The Nigerian’s hot streak can’t last forever, and whilst Dominguez announced himself to the home crowd with a looping header against Brentford, there’s a distinct lack of goals across the team.
Forest have developed a habit of staying in games and catching teams cold, but ultimately, that’ll catch up with them unless they learn to take the initiative more often. After a goalless draw at Crystal Palace, Forest went two goals to the good via a brace from Chris Wood, only to cough up their advantage and draw 2-2 at home to Luton. They currently sit 15th in the table as they enter a daunting spell that will see them face Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton over the next month.
Dominguez, a jack of all trades with an eye for a pass, has the capabilities to help remedy Forest’s issues in possession. But with Ibrahim Sangare heading to the Africa Cup of Nations in January, Dominguez will have to step up in a big way if Forest are to escape the drop this season.
By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / James Gill – Danehouse / Getty Images