When Nottingham Forest made it back to the Premier League last season, Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi was one of their big-money signings. The aim from the get-go was for the former Union Berlin man to fire them to safety, and he did, scoring 10 goals in 27 outings. But the powerful forward is on course to go one better this term, with his game on a whole new level.
It’s fair to say that, regardless of the money spent and the number of new faces added to the squad, Forest were one of the favourites to be relegated to the Championship last term, according to online football betting sites. But they probably didn’t bank on Awoniyi and Co. having what it takes to adapt and evolve enough to begin being competitive and picking up those all-important points. By the end of the season, Steve Cooper’s men were safe in 16th, four points clear of the drop zone.
Awoniyi, to give him his dues, had a better goalscoring record than his goals-to-games ratio suggests. Based on minutes played, the twenty-six-year-old scored a goal every 1.56 games, which is some going. But, after Forest’s struggles last term, there were question marks as to whether he could take things up a notch this time round. And in answer to those questions, Awoniyi has played three and scored three, with goals against Arsenal, Sheffield United and Manchester United.
If Awoniyi can not only continue in this rich vein of goalscoring form but can get on the scoresheet against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, it means that Forest will, at the very least, be competitive against every side they come up against in the Premier League this season. They must also beat the teams they’re expected to, as they did against The Blades, with Awoniyi getting Cooper’s side off to a winning start.
Awoniyi will be assisted this season by at least one other Super Eagle, as Forest completed the transfer of former Chelsea defender Ola Aina on a free from Torino earlier in the window. The London-born full-back has made two appearances so far and will be looking to revive his career in the Premier League after an injury-hit campaign in Italy last term.
Forest also have another Super Eagle in their ranks in the form of Emmanuel Dennis, but the twenty-five-year-old has struggled to make an impact since signing from Watford and has so far been out of the picture this season. However, this isn’t where the Super Eagle link in Nottingham ends, as Awoniyi, Aina and Dennis could be joined by another of their international teammates in the not-too-distant future,
Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi has been linked with a move to the City Ground, and his defensive presence could prove pivotal and be the difference between coming away from games with points or not. Ndidi’s arrival and then his expected inclusion would also give an excellent foundation for Awoniyi to continue his goalscoring form. So, it would be a great move all round.