Home ยป Three things we learned from Manchester United’s impressive 2-0 win vs. Nottingham Forest

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s impressive 2-0 win vs. Nottingham Forest

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United travelled to the City Ground today to face Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest.

Faced with a number of injuries and players out of action, Erik ten Hag named a makeshift backline consisting of Diogo Dalot at left-back, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof as the centre-back pairing and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the right of defence.

Casemiro was United’s deepest-lying midfielder with Marcel Sabitzer and Bruno Fernandes completing the midfield trio.

Sabiter picked up a groin injury during the warm-up and had to be replaced by Christian Eriksen. Anthony Martial led the line with Jadon Sancho and Antony on either flank of attack.

Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest.

Eriksen a solid replacement for the injured Sabitzer

Sabitzer’s injury just before the game forced Ten Hag’s hand and the Dutchman had to throw Eriksen straight into the action.

Sabitzer was going into the game off the back of a superb performance against Sevilla on Thursday and was surely raring to go again as he seeks to convince United to permanently sign him.

Nevertheless, Eriksen made sure that Sabitzer was not sorely missed. The Dane more than filled the Bayern Munich loanee’s boots.

Eriksen was in control in the middle of the park and largely dictated the tempo of the game. The 31-year-old struck a formidable partnership with Fernandes and Casemiro, reminiscent of how Ten Hag primarily deployed them before Eriksen’s injury.

Eriksen excelled both offensively and defensively. He regularly popped up on the edge of Forest’s box to combine with United’s attackers.

He kept the ball well and kept it going. The midfielder did well in retrieving it from the team’s defenders and feeding it to the forwards.

Eriksen delved into two duels in the first half – one in the air and another on the ground. He won both of them. He also completed one long ball, one dribble and as many big chances – the big chance occurred towards the end of the opening 45 minutes when he found Fernandes inside the box with a stellar cross that in all truth, his teammate should have found the back of the net with.

With Ten Hag filling in so many holes with improvised solutions he needed the calmness and midfield control Eriksen injects and the United boss got just that from his summer signing.

Fernandes stepping up a notch

Alongside Eriksen, Fernandes was also outstanding and an argument could be made that he was United’s best player against Forest.

Fernandes played in his favoured playmaker role from where he looked to make things happen. He was the team’s creative spark.

The 28-year-old was a threat all game and were it not for several heroic saves from Keylor Navas, he could have gotten on the score sheet.

For United’s first goal, a clever pass from Fernandes to Martial sliced the Forest defence open. Martial fired a shot that Navas repelled. A lurking Antony was all too happy to tap it inside to put the Reds in the driving seat.

Against Steve Cooper’s men, Fernandes was a constant threat and it bodes very well with many of Ten Hag’s key men sidelined.

With the club firmly at the business end of the season, Fernandes’s contributions especially in front of goal will be invaluable.

He is cranking up the heat just in time and when his input is needed the most.

Sancho and Maguire still far from convincing

In a game where most of United’s stars stood up to be counted considering the circumstances beforehand, Sancho and Maguire were still below par.

The former lost many of his duels and failed to produce any meaningful attacking impetus. Sancho simply looked out of place and not in sync with his colleagues.

Maguire on the other hand as is mostly the case with him, was radiating panic. He did not help himself by receiving a booking within two minutes of play.

One cannot help but think that against a more quality team compared to Forest, Maguire’s mistakes at the back would have proved more costly.

United’s short numbers however demand that Sancho and Maguire both get with the program. There is simply no room for complacency or schoolboy errors.

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