Manchester United will be looking to continue their steady Premier League form at the unforgiving City Ground. Here is a preview.
Nottingham Forest have dwindled in recent weeks and they will hope to end the year with a brilliant result against Erik Ten Hag’s side in front of their home supporters.
The previous fixture this term saw Manchester United come from two goals behind inside four minutes to win 3-2 against ten men. But they will not find the task more accessible in West Bridgford as Steve Cooper’s men are drifting dangerously towards the relegation zone.
There was one win from their first three matches of the season, but Arsenal and Manchester United were lucky to get away with three points each against Forest. They had begun the season looking very resilient and all the better for the experiences of last term.
Forest got their first away win at Chelsea in 27 years as their season sparked into life. Still, they failed to win any of their next four matches against Burnley, Manchester City, Brentford, Crystal Palace, and Luton Town, with four draws and a defeat to the Premier League champions.
Liverpool were 3-nil winners at Anfield, but Forest got a morale-boosting win at home to Aston Villa. Since then, the Tricky Trees have failed to win any of their next three matches, with lone-goal defeats each to West Ham, Brighton, and Everton.
Results are desperately needed to change the mood during the festive run of fixtures, and a good outing against Man United could give them a huge lift. Notably, last season’s survival act has given them vital experience and team spirit to get through rough patches of form.
Steve Cooper must get his side firing again after just one win in their last ten games, and they lie only six points above the drop zone in the 15th.
For United, it has been a topsy-turvy campaign, with several injuries to key players, personal issues within the dressing room, and poor form on the pitch. Less than a year after lifting the Carabao Cup, things have turned sour, with the Red Devils failing to evolve as a team under their manager or attain consistency.
It has already been a record-breaking start to this campaign for all the wrong reasons, as their results in the league and particularly in the UEFA Champions League, have been poor.
Three defeats and two wins from the first five games set an alarming precedent for what was to come for the Mancunians. A win and another loss followed against Burnley and Crystal Palace until United found some form thanks to second-half winning strikes from Scott McTominay and Diogo Dalot each.
That short reprieve was followed by successive 3-0 defeats to Manchester City and Newcastle (Carabao Cup). Thereafter, United won the next three in the league against Fulham, Luton, and Everton, although they couldn’t transfer that form to continental competition.
Only three days after all but confirming their exit from the UCL group stage, the Red Devils fell to another defeat at Newcastle. They must find a consistent run of performances, with the focus now firmly on retaining a European qualification spot in the league.
Their recent record against Forest bodes well for their chances, and their forwards must be decisive in punishing any gaps in the hosts’ backline.
This game is scheduled for Saturday, 30 December 2023, with kick-off set for 5:30 PM UK time. Match tickets can be purchased on each club’s website, but they are very likely to be sold out at this point.
The over 30,000-capacity City Ground on the banks of the River Trent is the place to be, and season ticket holders already have their seats allocated.
However, there is a small window for ticket returns, but supporters who would love to attend the match may be lucky to find Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United tickets on a ticket resale site.
Forest is dealing with a severe list of injury absentees, with Taiwo Awonoiyi, Danilo, Murillo, and Willy Boly all sidelined at the time of writing. On the other hand, the return of Brazilian defender Felipe is a welcome sight, and he could be in line to start against the Red Devils.
Man United also have a considerable roll-call of long-term injuries, with the likes of Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, and Christian Eriksen expected to be out until January at least. Meanwhile, Jonny Evans and Amad Diallo are close to returning from respective injuries.
The continuity of selection has hugely benefited Cooper’s side since the start of last season, and there should be limited changes to their regular starters, bar injuries.
The absence of Awoniyi leaves a goalscoring void that the rest of the forwards must fill. They must be bullish and hungry to create chances to unsettle an error-strewn backline.
Nottingham Forest: Vlachodimos; Aurier, Boly, Murillo, Toffolo; Mangala, Sangare, Yates; Gibbs-White, Wood, Elanga
Kobbie Mainoo has been a revelation since breaking into Ten Hag’s midfield, and he should continue to be selected alongside McTominay. Elsewhere, Alejandro Garnacho is also staking a claim on the left wing and his dynamism could help his team on the day.
It is imperative that United attack Forest to get the maximum points, and they must be at their best to hit them with speed and precision.
Manchester United: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Mainoo, McTominay; Rashford, Fernandes, Garnacho; Hojlund
United have beaten Forest in each of their last five meetings in all competitions and they will be banking on that good omen to once again beat their hosts by scoring a few goals.
While the Garibaldi will be fired up by their home crowd, who will make it a brilliant atmosphere, Ten Hag’s side may have more than enough quality to create better chances and win the game.
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