Nottingham Forest 1-1 Chelsea: Away day Blues continue as more points dropped in top-four hunt

Celebration: Former Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier scored a deserved equaliser for Nottingham Forest against Chelsea  (PA)
Celebration: Former Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier scored a deserved equaliser for Nottingham Forest against Chelsea (PA)

Chelsea were denied back-to-back victories after the World Cup break after being held to a feisty 1-1 draw at struggling Nottingham Forest as their away day problems continued to kick off 2023.

Looking to continue their momentum after a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Tuesday night that ended a dire run of three consecutive league defeats suffered before the mid-season interval, Graham Potter’s side looked well-placed to further cut that sizable gap to the top four after a somewhat freak early goal from Raheem Sterling gave them a half-time advantage at the City Ground following Willy Bolly’s inexplicable deflection of a Christian Pulisic centre onto his own crossbar.

However, Forest were a completely different animal after the interval, roared on by a passionate home crowd on New Year’s Day as ex-Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier kept his cool amid a scramble from a corner to smash home at the front post and claim a deserved share of the spoils for the hosts, who are now unbeaten in five consecutive home league matches in their battle against an immediate return to the Championship.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have managed just three wins in nine away games so far this term - the last of which came back in mid-October - and already conceded more goals on the road in 2022/23 than they did throughout the whole of last season ahead of a tricky league and FA Cup double-header to come next against Manchester City.

Sunday’s result leaves Chelsea still sitting eighth behind west London rivals Fulham in the Premier League table and seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, with five points now the gap to Tottenham in fifth after Spurs surprisingly lost at home to Aston Villa earlier in the day.

Forest, meanwhile, jump up a place to 18th and now remain in the relegation zone on goal difference only behind West Ham, with severe pressure mounting on David Moyes.

A major six-pointer looms next for Steve Cooper’s men against rock-bottom Southampton on Wednesday night, a crucial game followed by a visit to Championship Blackpool in the cup.