The semifinals of the Carabao Cup feature one of the more unique domestic cup quirks in all of Europe. Nottingham Forest and Manchester United will face off not once, but twice, to determine which club plays in the final.
The first of the two semifinal legs take place on Wednesday, as the two teams face off for the second time in less than a month. Man United defeated Forest just two days after Christmas in a 3-0 showing, and have been on fire since that time.
The hosts are dealing with a rash of injury issues, and will be severely depleted. Forest will also need to keep proceedings close, as to still have a chance in the second leg.
Can the favored Red Devils put one foot into the final with a dominant performance, or will Forest find a way to keep things interesting? Let’s dive into our Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United picks and predictions to find out.
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United odds
|Nottingham Forest||Manchester United|
|Over 2.5 (-118)||Total||Under 2.5 (-106)|
Odds courtesy of bet365 on January 24, 2023.
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United picks and predictions
After a rough start to life in the Premier League, the newly promoted Nottingham Forest have finally begun to gel. After signing more than 20 new players in the summer window, they lost six of their first nine matches in all competitions.
Since the start of November, it’s been an entirely different story. Forest have walked away winners in six of their last 10 matches, losing just twice. That includes a 2-0 win at home over Tottenham earlier in this very competition.
But injuries have taken a toll on Forest. Cheikhou Kouyate, Moussa Niakhate, Taiwo Awoniyi, and Omar Richards are all out, and goalkeeper Dean Henderson — who wouldn’t be allowed to play as he’s on loan from Man United — joined them on the sideline this past week.
Injuries haven’t been a huge issue so far for Manchester United, but the suspension of Casemiro cost them dearly in their 3-2 defeat to Arsenal on the weekend. The result ended a run of 10 straight without tasting defeat across all competitions, and ended any hopes they had left of winning the Premier League.
For a club that hasn’t won a trophy of any kind since winning the 2017 Europa League, the domestic cup double is still on the table. Manager Eric ten Hag said in his pre-match press conference that he planned to “do everything” to end that run without silverware, the longest such stretch in the club’s last 40 years.
That’s why I love Manchester United to not only win on Wednesday, but win convincingly. The Red Devils desperately want to win something, no matter how big or small, and this is a perfect opportunity to take a step toward that goal.
Manchester United’s next three fixtures are all cup ties — with an FA Cup matchup with Reading sandwiched between the two with Forest — and after visiting Forest they will play four straight at Old Trafford. I expect ten Hag to field his strongest lineup, with the hopes of allowing for rotation in the return fixture.
These two sides squared off not a month ago, and the Red Devils were in control with two goals inside of 25 minutes. Without Henderson at the back, the Forest goal is quite vulnerable.
Not only should Man United win convincingly once again, but they should also win by more than one goal. Take the Red Devils to win by at least one via the Asian spread: a one-goal win would result in a push, while any other win gets you a nice profit.
My best bet: Manchester United -1 Asian Spread (+120 at bet365)
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Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United side analysis
Nottingham Forest have been setting up in a 4-3-1-2 formation under manager Steve Cooper, allowing them to solidify in the middle of the park while having a pair of strikers in front of Morgan Gibbs-White. It led to three wins and a draw in their last five outings, with that lone defeat being a 4-1 defeat to Blackpool in the FA Cup.
But Manchester United’s 4-3-3 setup are poised to utilize the space in the flanks, especially on the left where Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw will often combine on the counter. Rashford’s goal against Arsenal was a world-class strike, oping the scoring in the contest. It was his ninth goal in his last nine appearances since returning from the World Cup break.
Man United have played just two of those nine tilts away from home, and they beat Wolves 1-0 while drawing 1-1 with Crystal Palace. Forest comes in having won their last two home fixtures, and five of the last six they’ve played at The City Ground.
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United Over/Under analysis
Cup ties often tend to be somewhat cagey affairs, but both teams have reason to go for it in this two-legged tie. Forest will want to get a result at home, preferably a victory, to avoid having to push on the road — or have it go to penalties in front of away fans.
Manchester United plays 10 matches over the next 32 days, so any break they can get for rest will be welcome. Winning on Wednesday allows them to likely rotate in the second leg, and ensures they have the advantage returning home.
As such, the Over is a strong play here. Slightly favored at the moment, Over 2.5 goals were cleared in their previous matchup, and has been the winning total in five of Man United’s last six matches.
While the Under has come through in four of Forest’s last five outings, that came mostly with Henderson in goal. Wayne Hennessey has played in three matches for Forest since the break, and the Over has come through in two of them–as he’s allowed eight goals in those three fixtures.
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United game info
|Location:||City Ground, Nottinghamshire, England|
|Date:||Wednesday, January 25, 2023|
|Time:||3:00 p.m. ET|
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United key injuries
Nottingham Forest: Dean Henderson GK (Out), Taiwo Awoniyi F (Out), Ryan Yates M (Questionable).
Manchester United: Jadon Sancho F (Out), Diogo Dalot D (Out), Anthony Martial F (Out).
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United weather
The pitch might be a bit wet come kickoff on Wednesday, but the rain should be fully cleared out before then. Showers throughout the day are set to end about two hours prior, and temperatures will be quite gold, hovering in the mid 30s. Winds should top out around 20 mph.