It’s in our hands – Steve Cooper urges Forest to take advantage of good position

Steve Cooper knows Nottingham Forest have their fate in their own hands (Joe Giddens/PA)
Steve Cooper knows Nottingham Forest have their fate in their own hands (Joe Giddens/PA)

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper wants his side to take advantage of having their fate in their own hands as they close in on Premier League survival.

Forest have had a tumultous time in their first season back in the Premier League after 23 years away and looked doomed after an 11-game winless run left them in the bottom three heading towards the end of last month.

But seven points from the last four games have seen them move three points clear of the drop zone and their safety could be achieved this weekend if they earn a positive result against Arsenal on Saturday and results go their way elsewhere.

Cooper said: “Wherever you are in the league – it was a different situation last year – when you’re playing for something you always want it to be in your hands and we have managed to create that for now and that’s what we’ve got to try and capitalise on.

“A lot of hard work and good things need to happen to keep it that way. We’ve got to have the confidence and motivation to make it that way.

“There’s a mini-league going on in our part of the table and we want to stay as a minimum where we are now. There’s so much that can happen in the next two games and we’ve got to concentrate on what we can control, concentrate on the present, giving our best every day.

“We are all doing that and that gives us the best chance.”

As well as securing their own fate they will end Arsenal’s slim title hopes with victory at the City Ground.

The Gunners’ chances took what looked like a terminal blow when they lost to Brighton last weekend, but Cooper does not think that negative result will factor into Saturday’s match.

“It’s not something that I think about and I don’t think many managers would think about their opponents’ situation,” he said. “So many times you’ve come against teams and you assume they’re in a certain situation and we’ve had the complete opposite.

“We’re preparing For Arsenal to be who they are and we have got to be at our very best. We’re in control of what we do and having a really good impact in the game and that’s where our intentions lie.

“I expect to come up against a team that has been at the top for a lot of the season. Look at how many points they have got and goals they have scored, we’re coming up against a top, top team.

“Put all the context to our situation and theirs to one side and we know we have to be at our very, very best, bare minimum.

“When you prepare for a game you do more analysing than you do normally and they do some brilliant things in the way they set up tactically, the players they have and everything else.

“We’re fully aware of that, we felt it in the game away from home. I think we’ve come on a bit since then but we have to be more than ready.”

Cooper has no fresh injuries to contend with and will have Emmanuel Dennis available after his recovery from a knock.