Preview: Forest match a formality before United reach the Carabao Cup final; Antony, Casemiro & Fred to feature?

Manchester United -v- Nottingham Forest

Carabao Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Wednesday 1 February 2023, KO 20:00 GMT

Manchester United welcome Nottingham Forest to Old Trafford for the second time this season, this time in the Carabao Cup semi final second leg. United lead 3-0 on aggregate after goals from Marcus Rashford, Wout Weghorst and Bruno Fernandes in the first leg which puts United in a great position to earn their first Cup Final of the Erik ten Hag era of the club. United have found massive improvement under the Dutchman this season, which is clear to see.

United also earned a place in the Emirates FA Cup fifth round after beating Reading 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. A brace from Casemiro and a goal from Fred saw United through although after Andy Carroll was sent off for Reading, which in turn seemed to injure Christian Eriksen, Reading got a consolation goal. It means that United still fight in all four competitions they started the season in; the Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup.

Bruno Fernandes has been involved in five goal contributions in his last five matches, scoring three (Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Forest) and assisting twice (Arsenal and Reading). Today marks three years since he signed for United and in 156 appearances to date has 56 goals and 46 assists in all competitions – 102 goal contributions. His form may not be the same as it was when he arrived in January 2020, but he’s inspired right now to achieve.

Manchester United – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Reading 3-1 W, Nottingham Forest 3-0 W, Arsenal 3-2 L, Crystal Palace 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-1 W, Charlton Athletic 3-0 W

Goals: 18 – Marcus Rashford, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Anthony Martial, Antony, 4 – Casemiro, 3 – Fred, Own Goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, 2 – Christian Eriksen, Alejandro Garnacho, Scott McTominay, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Wout Weghorst

Assists: 9 – Christian Eriksen, 6 – Bruno Fernandes, 5 – Casemiro, Marcus Rashford, 4 – Alejandro Garnacho, 2 – Anthony Elanga, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 1 – Antony, Diogo Dalot, Fred, Scott McTominay, Facundo Pellistri, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Nottingham Forest – Form, Goals Scored & Assists

Manchester United 3-0 L, Bournemouth 1-1 D, Leicester City 2-1 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 (4-3) W, Blackpool 4-1 L, Southampton 1-0 W

Goals: 6 – Brennan Johnson, 5 – Taiwo Awoniyi, 3 – Sam Surridge, 2 – Morgan Gibbs-White, Jesse Lingard, Ryan Yates, 1 – Serge Aurier, Willy Boly, Emmanuel Dennis, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Renan Lodi, Lewis O’Brien

Assists: 4 – Morgan Gibbs-White, 2 – Cafú, Emmanuel Dennis, Brennan Johnson, Jesse Lingard, Sam Surridge, 1 – Willy Boly, Harry Toffolo, Neco Williams, Ryan Yates

Previous Meetings & Connections

United and Forest have met 107 in all competitions, meeting for the first time back in 1892, a 1-1 draw between Forest and Newton Heath. United have won 50 times, drawn 24 times and lost 33 times. The last defeat to Forest was back in 1994; a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in the Premier League. Stan Collymore and Stuart Pearce put Forest 2-0 up before Eric Cantona scored. Since then, nine matches have been played; one draw and eight consecutive wins.

In the League Cup, United and Forest have met four times with United winning all four of them; 1983, a 4-0 victory. 1992, a 1-0 victory. 1998, a 2-1 victory and the first leg of the semi final in 2023, a 3-0 victory. United have scored ten goals, conceding once and keeping three clean sheets in the League Cup against Forest. Having a 3-0 aggregate heading into the second leg at Old Trafford gives United a massive advantage on their way to Wembley.

Jonathan Greening, Scott Wootton, Roy Keane, Danny Higginbotham, Lee Martin, Andy Cole, John Curtis, Viv Anderson, Teddy Sheringham, Michael Stewart, Federico Macheda, Neil Webb, Saidy Janko, Jesse Lingard and Dean Henderson have all played for both United and Forest. The stand out players here are Roy Keane, who signed for United just £3.75 million, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham – who all won the treble with United in the 1998/99 season.

Team News

Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Donny van de Beek, Christian Eriksen and Anthony Martial are all currently ruled out due to injury. Eriksen is the latest player to be added to that list after leaving Old Trafford on crutches with his leg in a protective boot after the Reading match. Jadon Sancho is back in training but only has a 25% chance of being fit for this match, but that is an estimate – Ten Hag will have more of an idea when he will be ready to feature for United again.

Luke Shaw has bee suffering from an illness for the last few matches and has a 50% chance of being involved against Forest at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Scott McTominay was missing from the squad which faced Reading on Saturday with a minor injury and he too has a 50% chance of being involved against Forest this week. United have a fair few problems in the squad at this time which could see eight players out of action for this match is none of them recover.

Taiwo Awoniyi, Omar Richards, Moussa Niakhate, Giulian Biancone, Cheikhou Kouyate and Dean Henderson are all ruled out of this match through injury, although Henderson was not going to be playing against United anyway after they refused permission for him to play against them in the Carabao Cup. Morgan Gibbs-White suffered an injury against United at the City Ground last week and now has a 25% chance of featuring for his club against United at Old Trafford.

Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Malacia;

Casemiro, Fred;

Antony, Fernandes, Rashford;

Weghorst

Predicted Nottingham Forest Starting XI – 4-3-3

Hennessey;

Aurier, Worrall, McKenna, Lodi;

Freuler, Danilo, Scarpa;

Johnson, Surridge, Lingard

Match Prediction

In my mind, United have already won this match by scoring three goals last week. Forest have scored four goals in a match once this season and that was against Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup. The have scored three goals in a match once also, against Grimsby Town in the Carabao Cup, also scoring two goals in a match twice (in matches they have won) against Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup and Leicester City in the Premier League.

Forest have also scored two goals in a match three other times, drawing 2-2 against Brentford in the Premier League and losing 3-2 to both Fulham and Bournemouth in the Premier League. I just don’t see the pedigree in this squad to get an advantage over United, being they they have played United in both the Premier League and the Carabao Cup and lost by 3-0 score lines in both of those matches. It seems clear that winning will be too tough for Forest here.

All United need to do is get an early-ish goal in the first half of the match at the Theatre of Dreams which will see them in total command in the match as Forest scoring five goals is that rare the odds of it happening could probably make someone a millionaire. Those words might come back to bit me, but there is a brilliant chance that they will not. United have already earned their place in the 2023 Carabao Cup final – on Tuesday we will find out who they play.

Manchester United 3-0 Nottingham Forest

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.