Talking Tactics

How Gibbs-White and Wood have formed a perfect partnership

By Adrian Clarke 17 Apr 2024
Talking Tactics Wood, Gibbs-White

Adrian Clarke analyses the role Forest's two most potent attackers will play in huge match against Everton

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be influential in Matchweek 34.

Player analysis - Morgan Gibbs-White & Chris Wood (Nott'm Forest)

The form and quality of two Nottingham Forest stars will give them hope of preserving their Premier League status, ahead of a season-defining match at relegation rivals Everton.

Playmaker Gibbs-White has come alive in recent weeks, supplying two goals and three assists across his last five appearances.

When he is ticking, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are always a more dangerous proposition.

And striker Wood is another individual who is in great shape ahead of Sunday’s crucial trip to Goodison Park.

The 32-year-old has been in great form since late December having netted nine goals in his last 11 top-flight appearances.

The relegation battle

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
16 Brentford BRE 38 -9 39
17 Nott'm Forest NFO 38 -18 32
18 Luton LUT 38 -33 26
19 Burnley BUR 38 -37 24
The most lethal finisher in the division

Despite a dismal away record that has seen Forest collect only seven points from a possible 39 across their last 13 matches on the road, Wood’s presence up top gives Forest confidence on Merseyside.

The New Zealander is currently the most clinical forward in the Premier League, having hit the target with over 70 per cent of his shots this season.

Only seven of his on-target shots have not resulted in a goal.

This proficiency has seen Wood comfortably usurp his Expected Goals (xG) tally.

Chris Wood season stats

Wood's superb conversion rate of 38.71 per cent, which includes blocks, has earned Forest a number of extra points of 2023/24.

His impressive success rate is way ahead of fellow lethal finishers Alexander Isak, Hwang Hee-chan and Cole Palmer.

Players' shot conversion & headed goals 2023/24
Shot conv. (inc. blocks) Headed goals
Chris Wood 38.7% Chris Wood 5
Alexander Isak 28.3% Ollie Watkins 5
Hwang Hee-chan 27.0% Jarrod Bowen 4
Cole Palmer 24.4% Scott McTominay 4

Wood has produced a variety of finishes, including a long-range strike against Fulham and then running through in a 1v1 at Newcastle United.

Wood's goal v Fulham

But aerial prowess is undoubtedly his forte.

Despite starting only 15 matches, Wood is the joint-leading scorer of headed goals this season alongside Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.

Classy combinations

A quarter of Wood’s goals in 2023/24 have been supplied by Gibbs-White, who has built a strong rapport with his team-mate.

Gibbs-White's corner was headed home by Forest’s leading scorer against AFC Bournemouth, and since then the pair have combined for two more vital goals to earn their side a valuable point at Luton Town and at home to Crystal Palace.

Wood volleyed the 24-year-old’s deft cross into the net at Kenilworth Road.


And in their next fixture against Palace, Gibbs-White picked out Wood's run into the penalty area, and the latter finished with a clever back-header.

Gibbs-White to Wood v Palace
Gibbs-White to Wood v Palace #2

Without those two goals well crafted by Gibbs-White, Forest would be in the bottom three ahead of this fixture, instead of one place ahead of the Hatters in 17th place.

Chief creator

Gibbs-White has fast become a talismanic figure at the City Ground.

Either playing as a No 10 or sliding infield from the right, he is a player with great vision and creativity.

In Premier League terms he is among the best midfielders for chances created in 2023/24 – no mean feat playing for a side languishing close to the bottom three.

Midfielders' chances created 2023/24
Player Chances created
Bruno Fernandes 90
Pascal Gross 90
Martin Odegaard 80
Andreas Pereira 80
Morgan Gibbs-White 61
Phil Foden 61

An indication of Gibbs-White’s talent was on display in Forest's recent 3-1 win at home to Fulham when he ran the match with a series of sumptuous pieces of play.

The highlight was his brilliant assist for Callum Hudson-Odoi as Gibbs-White spun away from his marker before producing an outstanding through ball from the outside of his foot.


While 20 of his 61 key passes have come from set-pieces, the attacking midfielder has proved he has the passing range to unlock any top-flight defence this season.

So many of the chances he creates come from forward passes made from central areas, as indicated below.

Morgan Gibbs-White season stats

Everton will have their eye on winning this huge "six-pointer" but as a side that has only scored more than once in one of their last 15 matches, there is an onus on them to keep a clean sheet.

If Sean Dyche’s side fail to contain in-form Wood and Gibbs-White, it will not be easy for them to take all three points.

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