Nottingham Forest are expected to complete the signing of Iranian striker Karim Ansarifard this week, which is a strong indication that Aitor Karanka will not deviate from his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
The 6’2” striker spearheaded his country’s attack on Tuesday as Iran edged out Uzbekistan 1-0 in Tashkent. Iran set up exactly as Forest for their away day victory, which drops the biggest of hints that the Reds will continue to persevere with the same formation when they face Swansea on Saturday. Ansarifard is a free agent having been released by Olympiacos, a club where he boasted an impressive strike rate. That is a little odd, but if he can replicate that kind of form, it will be of no consequence to Forest fans.
The big man moves fluently in and around the six yard box, which is where the majority of his goals are scored. All good and well, but he’ll rely heavily on service into those areas.
His physique is similar to that of Daryl Murphy and Lewis Grabban, which is another glaring indication that he’s unlikely to be paired with any of the aforementioned strikers in a two pronged attack.
One thing is certain though, he knows how to score a penalty under pressure, having done so on the biggest stage of all at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Going into the international break there was much debate about the deployment of two holding midfielders for Forest, something that seems unlikely to change any time soon. However, the expected return of Adlene Guedioura will help to allay some of those fears, given the offensive qualities he possesses. It’s fair to say that Murphy has done OK so far when you consider the below par performance of Forest’s general play this term. As for Grabban, it’s just not happened for the £6m man yet. Hopefully, the addition of Ansarifard will be seen as healthy competition for all concerned as the Reds look to reignite their season following the two-week break. Reverting to the international scene, Iran, who’ve qualified for back to back World Cups, have done so by being defensive and resolute, something that Karanka has been labelled with during his short managerial career.
Carlos Queiroz has flirted between 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 during his tenure as the Iranian team manager, but like Karanka has seldom opted for two up top. Ansarifard should be familiar with the Karanka set up and, if anything, will be looking to receive much more service at club level than he does for his country.
If Ansarifard hits the ground running he could well be the unlikely hero at the City Ground. One thing I’m certain of, Karanka has recruited him to continue with the 4-2-3-1 way of life.