Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United: Preview and Prediction

A spot in the FA Cup quarter-finals will be on the line when Nottingham Forest and Manchester United clash at the City Ground on Wednesday.

The FA Cup fifth round will continue on Wednesday, with half of the fixtures coming up on Wednesday. One of the most eye-catching fixtures of the latest stage will pit Nottingham Forest against Manchester United at the City Ground.

Nottingham Forest reached the FA Cup fifth round by winning replays in both the previous stages, overcoming Blackpool and Bristol City in the return leg. But their recent form has been sketchy, as they have clinched a victory within regulation time in just one of their last eight outings, beating West Ham United 2-0 ten days ago.

As for Manchester United, they have been one of the most in-form English teams on paper in 2024. The Red Devils have lost only once thus far this year, with that defeat coming this past weekend against Fulham. Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag’s charges reached the FA Cup fifth round by beating Wigan Athletic and Newport County in the previous stages.

Nottingham Forest and Manchester United have clashed twice thus far this season, with both teams winning by the odd goal in their respective home game. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Nottingham Forest

Nuno Espirito Santo has a new injury concern hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Manchester United on Wednesday, the Nottingham Forest manager will be bereft of the services of five first-team players.

Nuno Tavares picked up a knock this past weekend against Aston Villa and will spend a few weeks in the treatment room. The Portuguese full-back has joined Ola Aina, Willy Boly, Ibrahim Sangare, and Chris Wood on the sidelines.

Moussa Niakhate should replace Tavares as the left-back, although Neco Williams is also a candidate for the spot. Niakhate will likely join Gonzalo Montiel, Felipe, and Murillo in the backline. Meanwhile, Matz Sels should retain his place between the sticks, with Nottingham Forest lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him against Manchester United.

As for the midfield unit, Danilo and Nicolas Dominguez should pair up in the double pivot. The duo will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park while initiating quick transitions. Divock Origi will likely lead the line for Nottingham Forest, with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Anthony Elanga, and Morgan Gibbs-White being the supporting cast.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sels; Montiel, Felipe, Murillo, Niakhate; Danilo, Dominguez; Elanga, Gibbs-White, Hudson-Odoi; Origi

Manchester United

Unlike his counterpart in the Nottingham Forest dugout, Erik ten Hag does not have a new issue to deal with ahead of the trip to the City Ground. The Manchester United manager will be without seven first-team players on Wednesday.

The Dutch tactician was sweating over the fitness of Victor Lindelof and Casemiro. But he has confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the duo will be available to take on Nottingham Forest.

But Luke Shaw (hamstring), Lisandro Martinez (knee), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (knock), Tyrell Malacia (knee), Mason Mount (calf), Anthony Martial (groin), and Rasmus Hojlund (muscle injury) remain in the treatment room.

Omari Forson should deputise for Hojlund in the final third again, although Antony will hope to get a rare start. The teenage sensation will join Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho, and Bruno Fernandes in the final third. But the Manchester United captain will often drop deep in the middle of the park.

Speaking of, Scott McTominay should replace Casemiro as Kobbie Mainoo’s partner in the double pivot. The defensive unit should also see a change, with Jonny Evans replacing Harry Maguire. The veteran defender will join Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, and Lindelof in the backline, with Andre Onana taking his usual spot in the goal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Onana; Dalot, Varane, Evans, Lindelof; McTominay, Mainoo; Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Forson

Key Stats

  • Nottingham Forest have progressed from four of the five previous FA Cup meetings with Manchester United. The only instance of the Red Devils clinching a victory came in the most recent clash in the third round of the 1989/90 edition.
  • Manchester United have already lost at the City Ground this season, going down 2-1 in the Premier League clash in December 2023. The Red Devils last suffered a defeat in back-to-back away matches against Nottingham Forest in all competitions in December 1984.
  • Nottingham Forest will look to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the second time in the last three seasons, having only qualified for the stage in two of the previous 30 campaigns.
  • Manchester United will aim to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for a record 48th time. They are currently tied with Everton on 47 appearances in the Last Eight in the competition.
  • Nottingham Forest have drawn three of their four FA Cup matches this season (W1), with their ties in the third and fourth round going to a replay. The last Premier League club to play a stalemate four or more times in a single FA Cup campaign had been Middlesbrough under Gareth Southgate in 2006/07 (6).

Player to Watch

Anthony Elanga

Embed from Getty Images

Marcus Rashford was a candidate for this section due to his frustrating campaign thus far. But we have picked Anthony Elanga as our Player to Watch as he will again look to drive home a point against his former club this midweek.

The Swedish international has looked good in his two outings against Manchester United this season. Another exemplary performance might be on the cards as he looks to retain his spot in the team amid threat from the peripheral figures. Expect Elanga to show why he deserved a long rope at Manchester United.


Nottingham Forest 1-2 Manchester United

Wednesday’s clash can have all three results, considering Manchester United have looked unconvincing even when they have won. With their unbeaten start to 2024 ending, Nottingham Forest will smell blood on Wednesday, as they had done in the most recent meeting between the two sides.

But the Tricky Trees have not set the stage alight themselves in the last few weeks and will be vulnerable at the back. So, expect a smash-and-grab clash, which can go any way at the City Ground. In the end, Manchester United might clinch a narrow 2-1 win, although we cannot rule out a Nottingham Forest victory.

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