Manchester United are back in Premier League action at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. Nottingham Forest will return to the Theatre of Dreams in their second season back in the top flight of English football aiming to beat United this time.
Last season, United and Forest met four times in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup with United winning four times; 3-0 and 2-0 in the league and 3-0 and 2-0 in the League Cup. Steve Cooper will be seeking to get the better of Erik ten Hag.
United opened their Premier League season with a conversion 1-0 victory over Wolves before coming unstuck in a 2-0 defeat to Spurs. Ten Hag’s side will need to find a way to bounce back from the defeat with a victory at the Theatre of Dreams.
United will need to start winning their matches otherwise they will start to get left behind. But that said, there will be 35 matches left to play after this one, so there is time to get a run of form and start turning a corner. However, after the Spurs defeat, it will take some work.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Fernandez;
Pellistri, Fernandes, Sancho;
Andre Onana has been one of the standout new signings this season at United. Despite the late controversy against Wolves, he has been quite positive in goal, despite conceding twice at the hands of Spurs. He’s a top goalkeeper and sill show more of that this season.
Onana is the goalkeeper that will get United playing from the back, like Ten Hag wants to achieve at the club this season and going forward. United will need to find a way to adapt into that style of play so that things can start to fall into place at some point.
Dean Henderson looks to be half way out of the door tab this time with Tom Heaton still out through injury. This could mean that without another goalkeeper who is experienced, either Henderson or a younger player will be on the bench this weekend.
United will obviously be seeking to sign a third-choice goalkeeper but at present, it does not look to be happening, meaning that United will have to make do with what they have at this time with just about a week of the transfer window remaining this summer.
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Fernandez
United’s defence will have to find improvement ahead of Saturday’s clash with Forest at Old Trafford. United conceded their first two goals of the season against Spurs and will need to maintain the kind of form shown against Forest last season – conceding no goals.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka looks set to keep his place in the fullback roles against Forest with the player putting in the effort. Luke Shaw is now ruled out so Alvaro Fernandez could step forward, unless Diogo Dalot plays at left-back – Fernandez should be chosen though.
In the centre of the defence, Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez look set to remain as the first-choice partnership ahead of the visit of Forest this weekend. The Frenchman has been subject to transfer interest, which seems to have been quashed.
Martinez was a doubt last weekend after his injury in the Wolves victory but he started against Spurs and unfortunately conceded an own goal – something that will need to be controlled better against Forest – who could be set for a turbulent season.
Midfield: Casemiro, Hannibal
United’s midfield need to find some improvement to get the better of heir opposition. Mason Mount is out injured for the foreseeable future which leaves Ten Hag with a problem to solve. United will need to be capable in the midfield – something that has not happened yet.
Casemiro is the player that will start in this position all of the time he is fit and not suspended. However, there will be times where he will need to be rested as last season, for instance, was tough on United and fatigue had set in. Casemiro starts against Forest.
Ten Hag will need to find a partner in the midfield two that will team up with Casemiro and do the other jobs in the midfield, such as creativity, getting forward with the ball and assisting or even scoring goals. United need to be doing a lot better in these areas.
Hannibal Mejbri could be a perfect candidate for this role. The Tunisian is a creative player that has aggression on a similar level to that of Roy Keane in the 1990s. He may not be fully experienced in first team capacity for United but has player first team football.
Attacking Midfield: Pellistri, Fernandes, Sancho
Creativity seems to be a problem for United this season having scored just one goal so far this season and that came from the head of Raphael Varane from an Aaron Wan-Bissaka assist so it is clear to see that United need something better in this area.
Antony was a player that caused some problems in this area last season and this season that still seems to be the case, however, it is a negative largely right now. Perhaps he should be benched to send a message to him in the hope he realises and gets better.
Facundo Pellistri is a player who needs more chances, especially if he is staying at United this season. He could be heading out on loan though. Jadon Sancho is another player who needs to be starting more this season – this could be a good match for him too.
Bruno Fernandes also needs to find his feet this season. His first two appearances have been uninspiring for a United captain and hopefully it is not too much of a weight for him and he can reprise his role of scoring and assisting goals aplently for United.
Marcus Rashford may not be the striker that United needs this season but at this stage, he’s the only player that is fit to start in this position. He scored 30 goals in all competitions last season and will need to start finding goals for United again this season.
United desperately need a striker to come in and work well with this team, scoring the goals needed to take United to the next level. It is clear that Rashford is not that player and neither is Anthony Martial who has not excelled in this position for a number of years.
Rasmus Hojlund could be the player that United need. There have been conflicting reports as to whether he could be fit enough to be on the bench this weekend, with reports suggesting it could be the case and others stating his debut will be after the international break.
United will need to find something and make it work between now and when Hojlund is going to be fit to play for United. The player is certainly keen to ge started and the fans are eager to see him play his trade at the Theatre of Dreams. It could be exciting.
Substitutes: Henderson; Lindelof, Dalot; Eriksen, McTominay; Martial, Hojlund, Antony, Garnacho
United will have nine players on the bench in the Premier League against Forest – the same as last season. In goal, Dean Henderson could be on the bench with Andre Onana starting and doing what he does best in goal. United are in safe hands there.
In the defence, Victor Lindelof and Diogo Dalot could be the only defensive players on the bench with Harry Maguire still on the sidelines through injury and Brandon Williams heading out on loan this week. United will have enough players though. Jonny Evans could be coming back too?
In the midfield, United will likely have Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay on the bench should midfield reinforcement be required, which could be the case. United had talented youth players and they could find themselves in the first team at stages this season.
In the attacking ranks, United have Anthony Martial, Rasmus Hojlund, if he is fit, Antony and Alejandro Garnacho. These could all be on the bench in this match which could give United some good firepower in reserve if Forest do try and shock United this weekend.
Written by John Walker