Manchester United will be looking to finish the job and book their place in the Carabao Cup final when they meet Nottingham Forest in the return leg of their semi-final tie on Wednesday.
In-form Marcus Rashford, winter arrival Wout Weghorst and captain Bruno Fernandes were on the scoresheet as the Red Devils thumped the Tricky Trees 3-0 in the first leg at the City Ground.
Erik ten Hag’s side have one foot in the final, but even though no team to have won the first leg away from home 3-0 have ever bowed out in the previous 11 instances, the Dutchman has called for calm.
Old Trafford once again proved as Man United’s safe haven at the weekend, with Casemiro’s second-half double, coupled with Fred’s backheel goal, inspiring them to a landslide 3-1 FA Cup win over second-tier Reading.
Forest’s hopes of reaching the final look dead in the water, especially considering Steve Cooper’s men fell to a 3-0 defeat in their Premier League contest again United at the Theatre of Dreams in December.
But after enjoying a match-free weekend due to their underwhelming FA Cup exit against Championship side Blackpool in January, the visitors can at least rely on fresh legs to avoid another catastrophe.
Considering their last four competitive encounters against Man Utd have yielded defeats via at least a three-goal margin, they need all encouragement they can get.
Except for a 3-2 defeat at runaway Premier League leaders Arsenal a week ago, Man Utd have been nothing short of outstanding across their remaining ten post-World Cup fixtures (W9, D1).
They look even more intimidating when playing at Old Trafford, as witnessed by their stellar run of 11 consecutive home wins in all competitions, nine of which came by multi-goal margins.
However, beating Forest for the third time this season may not necessarily be a good omen for Man Utd, given that they’ve lost the final on all three previous occasions when they’ve won both Carabao Cup semi-final legs.
Forest have won just one of their last five outings in all competitions (D2, L2), while their two losses in this run yielded a three-goal margin, highlighting their habit of rolling over.
Interestingly, none of their last 16 away matches in the Carabao Cup have finished level, with the Tricky Trees registering nine wins and seven defeats in that run.
Unfortunately for Cooper, that streak is likely to continue, but in a wrong way for his side, considering they’ve lost their last five visits to Old Trafford by an aggregate score of 17-2.
Long-term Man Utd absentees Diogo Dalot, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe and Donny van de Beek are not in contention for Wednesday’s clash.
As for Forest, Dean Henderson, Cheikhou Kouyate, Moussa Niakhate, Taiwo Awoniyi and Omar Richards are on the sidelines with injuries.
Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest Potential Line-ups
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw; Casemiro, Fred; Anthony Elanga, Bruno Fernandes, Alejandro Garnacho; Wout Weghorst.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-1-2): Wayne Hennessey; Serge Aurier, Joe Worrall, Willy Boly, Renan Lodi; Orel Mangala, Danilo, Remo Freuler; Gustavo Scarpa; Brennan Johnson, Emmanuel Dennis.
Manchester United vs Nottingham Forest Prediction
There’s a piece of history up for grabs on Wednesday, as Man Utd could beat the same opponent via a three-goal margin three times in the same season for the first time.
If the recent H2H history is anything to go by, the Old Trafford crowd could witness another high-scoring spectacle.
Manchester United 3-0 Nottingham Forest
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