Manchester United will face Nottingham Forest on the third matchday of the Premier League at Old Trafford on August 26, 3 PM BST.
After back-to-back dismal performances, one of which was punished by Tottenham Hotspur, Erik ten Hag’s men will seek to get back to winning ways with a performance to match.
Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest prediction states that United should win the game due to their individual quality shining. However, Forest pose a unique challenge as well.
Here are the top three things to watch out for in the game-
Running it back tactically
Tactically, a big change is underway at United this season. Gone is the double pivot 4-2-3-1 and in its place has come a more progressive and attack-minded 4-3-3 with two “free 8s” in the middle.
Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount have so far struggled to come to grips with their new role, also leaving Casemiro to fend for himself at the base of midfield.
However, an injury could force the manager to go back to last season’s template of the 4-2-3-1.
We recently covered why Mason Mount’s injury could be a blessing in disguise for United but that will be true only if Ten Hag ditches the 4-3-3.
If Christian Eriksen comes in for Mount, his lack of physicality won’t allow him to play the role of a free 8. Starting him alongside Casemiro in the double pivot will be the way to go. Last season, the midfield of Casemiro-Fernandes-Eriksen had a tremendous record when starting together.
Fans and the manager will hope last season’s form can be recaptured by last season’s first-choice midfield. Sometimes, taking a step back is necessary for a bigger launch eventually.
Will the real Antony please stand up?
Generally, Ten Hag’s signing have been afforded a long leash as every signing looks to be a part of a long-term plan. Moreover, most of his acquisitions have played a key role in United’s resurgence.
However, something turned after the Spurs defeat. Antony, last season’s marquee arrival and a bonafide Ten Hag favourite, is under the scanner now.
After starting his United career on fire last season, he has trended only one way and that’s not upwards.
It is a damning indictment of the Brazilian’s qualities that in current form, his best trait is his defensive work. For a Man United winger, that is unforgivable.
His problems have been exacerbated because Facundo Pellistri has looked electric whenever he has seen minutes. There is increasingly a clamour among fans who want a change from the usual.
If history is any indicator, Ten Hag is infamous for his stubbornness when it comes to selecting his trusted players.
Therefore, Antony is likely to start again. However, the leash is getting shorter with every performance. A good display is needed otherwise he could soon find himself in the “Harry Maguire territory” of fan opinion.
The most important team news of the season
This is United’s final game before the transfer window closes. Therefore, when the team news for this game drops, it will likely clear up the United future of many players.
The club is unlikely to risk any player who they want to move on in the next week. Donny van de Beek and Brandon Williams were missing against Tottenham and the manager confirmed that they are looking at options for the pair.
Since then, Williams is on the verge of a move to Ipswich Town and Van de Beek could follow him soon.
There are still players at the club who won’t be here when the window ends. Erik ten Hag’s XI and the squad will make it clear who they are and how far along the deals to move them on are as well.