EFL Cup Semi-Final – 01/02/2033, 8:00pm
No team has ever overturned a three-goal deficit in the EFL Cup semi-finals, so Nottingham Forest will have to re-write the history books on Wednesday night.
Manchester United hold what surely looks to be an unassailable 3-0 first-leg lead heading to Old Trafford. It would be a complete disaster for Erik ten Hag if his men did not reach the February final and there seems little chance of Forest winning by three goals.
It’s six years since United defeated Southampton in the League Cup final and they are favourites to repeat that success this time around.
United have conceded just five goals at home in the Premier League and only Brighton, on the opening day of the season, have scored more than once at Old Trafford.
Forest know exactly how tough it is at Old Trafford having lost 3-0 there in the league just after Christmas, having failed to lay a glove on the hosts.
They look primed to give a better account of themselves this time around, knowing they must attack and score first to keep the tie alive.
They will likely be without the in-form Morgan Gibbs-White, who was injured in the first leg. That could mean a return to the line-up for Jesse Lingard against his former club.
But in truth, the game could well depend on just how strong a line-up Ten Hag fields.
Forest’s first-leg destroyer Marcus Rashford played against Reading in the FA Cup on Saturday and he could get a rest.
Steve Cooper would be delighted to see the England man left out after his devastating pace took the game away from Forest after just six minutes at the City Ground.
Ten Hag decided to rotate his centre-backs last time out in the FA Cup, with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire starting. That could mean a return for first-choice pair Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane and it may well be further forward where Ten Hag makes changes.
Christian Eriksen is missing through injury, but Anthony Elanga, Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri could all get more prominent roles after sub appearances against Reading.
Those predicted changes could well disrupt a United side who bounced back from defeat at Arsenal with two straight wins.
The 4/9 about United certainly does not appeal.
Forest were more than in the game for a 20-minute spell after Rashford had scored at the City Ground. And only a tight VAR call denied Sam Surridge what would have been a superb leveller.
Brennan Johnson also had some good moments against United’s back line and there was enough encouragement to believe that Forest can score in the return.
No team has scored less than the three goals Forest have netted on the road in the league, but they did hit four at Blackburn in the fourth round of this competition.
With attack the only way for Forest, Cooper’s men can get some joy in M16, but overturning the first-leg landslide looks almost impossible and a draw might be the best they can hope for.
- Man Utd have won the last two meetings between the sides 3-0
- During the last 10 meetings between the sides Nottingham Forest have won just once
- Before the first-leg defeat to Man Utd, Forest had scored in six consecutive matches
- Manchester United have scored at least one goal for eight consecutive matches
- Manchester United have lost just one in 13 games in all competitions
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