Burnley vs Nottingham Forest preview and predicted XI: Awoniyi & Aina to close out troubled Premier League season

It’s going to be a tense finale to the 2023/24 campaign for Taiwo Awoniyi and Ola Aina when Nottingham Forest travel to Burnley on the final day of the season.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has had to overcome several obstacles this season but they’ve still managed to give themselves a big chance of survival going into their last game.

Having been docked four points for breaching the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR), Forest’s appeal failed, which plunged the club into a relegation dogfight. Forest, however, need at least a draw to beat the drop when they face Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Vincent Kompany’s side has already been relegated from the Premier League but they will also be aiming to finish the season on a high and to give their home fans something to cheer about following what has been a disappointing return to the English topflight. But for a side whose last home win came in March, there is every reason for Forest to feel confident ahead of their visit to Turf Moor. 

Aina is once again expected to start after being a key player for Espirito Santo’s during their relegation run-in, but Awoniyi may likely start from the bench after making two substitute appearances since returning from injury earlier this month.

Quick stats

  • Nottingham Forest have won just two of their last 13 Premier League matches, while Burnley have also won the same number of games in their last 13 outings
  • Despite their floundering form, Nottingham Forest have impressively scored five goals in their last two Premier League games 
  • Burnley haven’t won a home game throughout April and May, with their last win at Turf Moor coming in mid-March against Brentford
  • Nottingham Forest also boast a poor away record in the Premier League and have won just once on the road since the beginning of 2024
  • Burnley are unbeaten in their last eight competitive matches against Nottingham Forest, winning four times, with the others ending in draws

Match preview

There is a lot riding on Sunday’s game between Burnley and Nottingham Forest. While the visitors only need a point to survive relegation, their poor away record makes this match a tricky one. Burnley may have already been relegated but the Clarets’ manager Kompany has promised to give home fans a show for one last time, and that means Forest would have to work their socks off if they’re going to leave Turf Moor with the needed result.

While a lot of eyeballs will be on the game between Burnley and Forest, some attention will also be on Luton Town, who will be hosting Fulham on Sunday. The Hatters are three points behind Forest and also have a goal difference of -31 as compared to Forest’s -19. 

This makes it nearly impossible for Luton Town to beat their relegation rivals on goal difference even if the latter lose their game against Burnley on Sunday. Espirito Santo is, however, taking no chances and has resolved to put out a team that will go all out against the Clarets, which could mean playing both Awoniyi and Chris Wood up top.

“There is still a game to go. We know how football is, so I think the best approach we can have is that we prepare the same way – with all the details we can and with the same commitment,” Espirito Santo said, as quoted by Nottingham Post.

“We are clear about everything that can happen. It is up to us. It is in our hands to mathematically achieve what we want. Now is the moment to play the last game. After that we start preparing everything. Now is the moment to prepare for the game. We are only focused on the game on Sunday.”

“In all of the situations we have had – draws, different games we have lost – the feeling we had is that we should have done better. We didn’t feel that the opponent beat us, we always felt that we shouldn’t have had these games get away from us. By saying that, we always play good football, we always try to go forward.”

The Forest boss has been playing a 4-2-3-1 formation since his appointment and it’s likely that he’ll stick to the same formation against Burnley. Ola Aina should, therefore, take his place in the starting-up, having been mostly deployed as a left-back. The former Chelsea defender has been ever-present in Forest’s battle for survival and remains one of the team’s most reliable players.

Awoniyi’s fitness is, however, still not certain after only returning from injury two weeks ago. The 26-year-old made his comeback in the dying embers of Forest’s 3-1 win over Sheffield United on May 4 and also replaced Moussa Niakhate for the final three minutes of last week’s 2-3 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. Awoniyi has featured in 19 Premier League games this season and has often been decisive, having scored six goals and provided three assists but Chris Wood has equally been decent in his absence, although the New Zealand forward tends to be wasteful in front of goal.

It’s obvious Awoniyi is still building his match fitness after his time on the sidelines, but Espirito Santo has a decision to make on Sunday if he indeed wants to go all out against Burnley on the final day of the season, with the club’s survival hopes on the line.

Burnley vs Nottingham Forest H2H (Last 10 games)

September 18, 2023 – Nottingham Forest 1-1 Burnley

August 30, 2023 – Nottingham Forest 0-1 Burnley

July 29, 2017 – Nottingham Forest 1-1 Burnley

February 23, 2016 – Burnley 1-0 Nottingham Forest

October 20, 2015 – Nottingham Forest 1-1 Burnley

February 22, 2014 – Burnley 3-1 Nottingham Forest

November 23, 2013 – Nottingham Forest 1-1 Burnley

September 24, 2013 – Burnley 2-1 Nottingham Forest

April 1, 2013 – Burnley 1-1 Nottingham Forest

December 9, 2012 – Nottingham Forest 2-0 Burnley 

Burnley vs Nottingham Forest prediction

Nottingham Forest ordinarily should be favourites for this game due to having a slightly better season than Burnley but Espirito Santo’s side’s poor record on the road cannot be set aside ahead of this crucial fixture.

Forest can, however, be buoyed by the fact that Burnley are equally a leaking basket at home and have rarely troubled any of the sides that have visited Turf Moor this season. But after a miserable campaign which culminated in relegation, the Clarets would be aiming to appease their home fans.

Forest need the result more and considering the character and fight they showed against Chelsea in mid-week, it’s hard to see them letting this game slip them by. A score draw could be the most likely outcome and if Awoniyi is afforded more than a quarter of an hour on the pitch, then the Nigerian has the chance to reach double figures for combined goals and assists this season with his next decisive contribution on the pitch. 

Burnely vs Nottingham Forest predicted line-ups 

Burnley possible starting lineup:

Muric; Assignon, O'Shea, Esteve, Taylor; Bruun Larsen, Berge, Cullen, Vitinho; Odobert, Foster

Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:

Sels; Montiel, Boly, Murillo, Aina; Yates, Danilo; Elanga, Gibbs-White, Hudson-Odoi; Wood

Burnley vs Nottingham Forest preview and predicted XI: Awoniyi & Aina to close out troubled Premier League season
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.