Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United will be keen on clinching their first win of the 2023/24 season when they clash at City Ground on Friday.

The 2023/24 Premier League season will resume this week, with Gameweek 2 beginning on Friday. And the latest round of fixtures will begin with a potentially early relegation six-pointer, with Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United locking horns at City Ground.

Nottingham Forest had to slog it out to remain in the Premier League last season. And their solid home record (tenth-best in the division) helped them remain afloat, considering they had the worst tally on the road. Meanwhile, the Tricky Trees continue to be poor travellers after losing the season-opening game at Arsenal last weekend. But the game had some positive signs, as they ran the Gunners close.

Like the hosts, Sheffield United also suffered a narrow defeat in Gameweek 1 of the 2023/24 Premier League season. But they were toothless in the final third, with Crystal Palace managing a straightforward 1-0 victory at Bramall Lane. And the Blades will look to get off the mark on Friday in a crucial match for their survival prospects.

Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United last clashed in the EFL Championship Playoffs, with Steve Cooper’s men eking out a narrow win. And The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Nottingham Forest

Steve Cooper does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Sheffield United on Friday, the Nottingham Forest manager will be bereft of the services of four first-team players.

Omar Richards, Felipe and Wayne Hennessey are unavailable for the foreseeable future. The trio will not take the field before the first international break of the 2023/24 season. Meanwhile, Harry Toffolo is the only other absentee for Nottingham Forest.

Matt Turner had a decent debut last weekend against Arsenal, even though he conceded two goals. And the USMNT international will aim to keep his first clean sheet for Nottingham Forest when they take on Sheffield United. And the hosts will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him.

Serge Aurier was a bundle of energy last weekend and will take his place on the right flank again. The Ivorian full-back should join Joe Worrall, Moussa Niakhate, and Ola Aina in the defensive unit. As for the midfield department, Orel Mangala and Danilo will form a defensive-minded pairing.

Anthony Elanga enjoyed a delightful debut for Nottingham Forest. And the Swedish international will bring the x-factor into the final third, where he will join Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson. Finally, Taiwo Awoniyi will spearhead the home side’s attack on Friday.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Turner; Aurier, Worrall, Niakhate, Aina; Mangala, Danilo; Elanga, Gibbs-White, Johnson; Awoniyi

Sheffield United

Unlike his counterpart in the Nottingham Forest dugout, Paul Heckingbottom has a lengthy health bill on his table. The Sheffield United manager might be without half a dozen players at City Ground on Friday night.

John Fleck is the most notable absentee. And apart from the long-term absentee, Jayden Bogle, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Ismaila Coulibaly, Daniel Jebbison, and Rhian Brewster should also miss out. But there is some good news, as Oliver McBurnie and Max Lowe should be available to take on Nottingham Forest,

Wes Foderingham is an automatic pick between the sticks for Sheffield United, who should line up in a 3-4-3 formation in front of him. And Anel Ahmedhodzic, John Egan, and Jack Robinson should form the central defensive unit on Friday.

As for the midfield unit, veteran defender Chris Basham slotted in as a holding midfielder against Crystal Palace. And he should pair up with Oliver Norwood in the middle of the park again. The duo will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park.

George Baldock and Lowe should be the two wing-backs, with the duo looking to send dangerous crosses into the Nottingham Forest box. In addition, they will often drop deep to create a back five and frustrate the hosts. Finally, William Osula, Benie Traore, and Ben Osborn should form the offensive trifecta.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Basham, Norwood, Lowe; Traore, Osula, Osborn

Key Stats

  • Nottingham Forest have lost just one of their last 13 home league games against Sheffield United, winning seven and drawing five. Meanwhile, the Tricky Trees can score their 100th top-flight goal against Sheffield United.
  • Nottingham Forest can equal a Premier League club record of four successive wins at the City Ground on Friday, last matched in January 1996. They won a league-high 79% of their Premier League points at home in 2022/23.
  • Sheffield United have won their opening away league game in only two of the past 33 seasons, drawing 12 and losing 19. Meanwhile, the Blades have lost just one of their last ten matches on a Friday, winning six and drawing three.
  • Steve Cooper’s men have scored in their last eight Premier League fixtures, netting 15 goals in that run.
  • Taiwo Awoniyi has scored seven goals in his last five Premier League games. He is the second Nottingham Forest player to score in five consecutive Premier League appearances after Stan Collymore, who found the net in six successive matches in 1995.

Player to Watch

Anthony Elanga

Embed from Getty Images

Many players can stake a claim for this spot in the preview. But Anthony Elanga takes the cake after an electric debut for Nottingham Forest last weekend. And he will be eager to continue his strong start to the new campaign in the home comforts of City Ground.

The Swedish international is a bundle of energy who can take on the opposition’s defences to wreak havoc. And his directness will trouble Sheffield United whenever the visitors look to remain disciplined at the back. Expect another impressive performance by Elanga.


Nottingham Forest 1-0 Sheffield United

The match pits one of the strongest home teams in the Premier League with one of the most resilient teams in the division. So while we can expect fireworks, goalmouth action will come few and far between from both clubs.

Sheffield United should keep the hosts at bay for most of the evening while threatening very little. And Anthony Elanga should produce the goods again, thus guiding Nottingham Forest to a narrow victory. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-0 win for Steve Cooper’s charges.

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