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Preview: Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United – stats, team news, line-ups

A berth in the FA Cup quarter-finals is on the line as Nottingham Forest and Manchester United lock horns in a fifth-round tie on Wednesday. 

Despite taking the field as betting favourites to negotiate their first FA Cup assignment against the Tricky Trees since 1990, United can’t take anything for granted at the City Ground. 

Erik ten Hag’s side relinquished a 12-game unbeaten streak against Forest in their last outing of 2023 and will be keen to avenge a 2-1 defeat on this ground after another Premier League upset last weekend.

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Ten Hag will expect nothing less from his men, who strung together seven unbeaten matches after losing in West Bridgford before the Cottagers gave them a harsh reality check on Saturday. 

With the Dutchman’s future at Old Trafford under scrutiny amid a stuttering attempt to secure Champions League football, this encounter could be a welcome distraction. 

Older fans probably remember the last time Man Utd faced Forest in the FA Cup. 

In 1990, Mark Robins scored a famous goal to inspire the Red Devils to a 1-0 victory, with many considering him a saviour of Sir Alex Ferguson’s job back in the day. 

It’s fair to say Ten Hag is in a similar position ahead of this trip, with ESPN, among others, wondering whether the 12-time FA Cup winners should part with the 54-year-old.

Match Preview

Nuno Espirito Santo’s decent start to his managerial tenure at Forest has descended into chaos after a 4-2 thumping at Aston Villa last weekend left the club only four points clear of the Premier League drop zone.

Like his Man Utd counterpart, the Portuguese tactician is on the precipice of being replaced unless he stems the bleeding, not least because his side’s performances flatter to deceive week by week.

Espirito Santo at least claimed bragging rights in his first showdown against United as a Forest manager, leading the Tricky Trees to their first H2H win after 12 failed attempts on the trot (D1, L11).

However, his charges have progressed into this tie by the skin of their teeth, squeaking past third-tier Blackpool in the third round after a replay before ousting Championship side Bristol City via penalties last time out.

Man Utd’s path to the FA Cup round five has been straightforward as they eased past Wigan Athletic 2-0 in their opening tie before a goal-glutted 4-2 triumph against Newport County in the previous knockout stage.

The Red Devils are now in familiar territory. They’ve avoided elimination in all 13 previous fifth-round ties since a 2005/06 exit at the hands of fierce rivals Liverpool. 

Further confidence comes from United’s formidable form outside Old Trafford, as they take this trip in pursuit of a sixth consecutive away win for the first time since 2019.

All eyes will be on Ten Hag’s frontline, given that United’s last four victories on hostile turf have come despite failing to keep a clean sheet, underscoring the importance of packing a punch.

Man Utd Team News

Speaking to in the build-up to Wednesday’s clash, Ten Hag confirmed Casemiro would be fit for this trip after being forced off with a head injury during Saturday’s game against Fulham.

“It was not to our advantage that he couldn’t continue the game. But he’s available for tomorrow,” the Dutchman said. 

Casemiro’s quick recovery is perhaps the only encouragement Man Utd fans can get ahead of this fixture after Ramsus Hojlund joined a substantial list of absentees.

In addition to the Danish striker, Ten Hag can’t call upon the likes of Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Mason Mount and Anthony Martial.

How Could Man Utd Line Up Against Forest?

(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Jonny Evans, Victor Lindelof; Scott McTominay, Kobbie Mainoo; Omari Forson, Bruno Fernandes, Alejandro Garnacho; Marcus Rashford.