Sunday’s Premier League action closes out at City Ground as Nottingham Forest trade tackles with Manchester United with their topflight status hanging by a thread.
Speculation over Steve Cooper’s future as Tricky Trees boss ramped up following successive defeats against Leeds United and Aston Villa.
While the club hierarchy continues to rubbish claims the 43-year-old is close to the sack, a third consecutive defeat at this crucial stage of the season could spell trouble for the Reds.
Meanwhile, Man United return from their continental commitment heartbroken, having squandered a two-goal lead against La Liga strugglers Sevilla.
However, a third domestic win on the trot could be the pick-me-up Erik ten Hag’s side needs to rally to victory when they travel to Spain next week for the tie decider.
Forest seem like a side that will not recognise the concept of winning a Premier League game if it was staring them dead in the eye, with their last victory coming in a slender 1-0 success over Leeds back in February.
It has proven their only victory in their last 11 league games (D4, L6) as they look poised to mark their maiden top-flight campaign with a return to the English second tier.
Having changed managers looking to salvage their campaign, Leeds returned the favour with a 2-1 victory over the Reds that preceded their 2-0 defeat against the in-form Aston Villa.
Despite putting up a fight, Forest failed to muster a single big chance to trouble the Villans, who made light work of the relegation strugglers thanks to second-half goals from Bertrand Traore and Ollie Watkins.
Cooper needs to fork out a winning formula if he is to steer his side away from the drop zone, and what better way to turn the tides than in their inaugural home meeting with the Red Devils since February 1999.
Stopping Man United from registering a goal will be in Forest’s best interest, as they have kept clean sheets in all six of their victories this season.
However, they have failed to win all 23 league games in which they’ve conceded this season (D8, L15), including each of their last nine (D3, L6).
Former Man United man Jesse Lingard will be itching to get a piece of the action as his search for a first league goal this term continues.
Should the Englishman register against his former employers, he could become the third former Man United player to score his first league goal against the Red Devils, after Keith Gillespie for Sheffield United in 2006/07, and Daniel James for Fulham this season.
Forest are languishing in 17th place on the Premier League standings but are level on points with Everton and two behind Leeds.
While the odds are firmly stacked against them ahead of the weekend contest, Cooper will hope his side can turn it up a notch against the top four hopefuls.
Having put their 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United behind them, Man United welcomed Sevilla to Old Trafford on the back of consecutive wins against Brentford and Everton.
Marcel Sabitzer’s seven-minute brace put the Red Devils on their way to what seemed like another routine win, even in the absence of top scorer Marcus Rashford.
However, Ten Hag’s side cracked under pressure in the final knockings of the game, with Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire putting the ball beyond David De Gea to hand the Spaniards a lifeline in the tie.
While they will be keen to right the wrongs of Thursday night’s contest, they will be wary of complacency against a Forest side desperate for points in their relegation fight.
Having won the Carabao Cup in February, Man United seemed like a side ready to take on the world as they compete on all fronts this season.
However, they now find themselves in danger of missing out on another European triumph, as well as a place in the Premier League top four, as they sit fourth, level on points with Newcastle.
Ten Hag’s side can ill-afford a slip-up at City Ground, but they boast a strong record against the newly promoted Forest, having won their last nine games against them in all competitions, beating them three times this season alone (once in the league, twice in League Cup).
Man United have also beaten Forest in their last six league meetings, scoring at least three goals on each occasion, so another routine outing is expected at the weekend.
However, Ten Hag’s side have lost three of their last four away games in the league (W1), having only lost three of their first ten on the road this season (W5, D2).
Should Forest find the back of the net in the game, Man United could also concede 30 goals on the road for the first time since the 1978/79 campaign.
Premier League form
Nottingham Forest: LLDLL
Manchester United: LDLWW
Cheikhou Kouyate and Moussa Niakhate joined Forest’s lengthy injury list after picking up hamstring injuries in last weekend’s defeat to Villa.
The likes of Giulian Biancone (knee), Renan Lodi (knock), Omar Richards (calf), Gustavo Scarpa (knee), Chris Wood, Willy Boly, and Dean Henderson (all thigh) will also sit out Man United’s visit.
Ryan Yates and Serge Aurier will need to be assessed before the game, while Remo Freuler and Orel Mangala should replace Kouyate and Niakhate.
Over at Man United, both Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez picked up knocks in the draw against Sevilla, with the latter carried off the pitch on a stretcher after suffering a non-contact injury.
Both players are expected to miss the weekend outing along with Marcus Rashford (groin), Donny van de Beek (knee), Luke Shaw (thigh), Tom Heaton, and Alejandro Garnacho (both ankle), while Scott McTominay should be in contention to return after recovering from a knock.
Maguire, who gifted Sevilla an equaliser, should keep his place in defence, partnered by out-of-favour Victor Lindelof, while Christian Eriksen could also make the starting line up after making a cameo appearance last time out.
Nottingham Forest potential starting line-up:
(4-3-2-1): Keylor Navas; Neco Williams, Joe Worrall, Felipe, Harry Toffolo; Remo Freuler, Danilo, Orel Mangala; Morgan Gibbs-White, Brennan Johnson; Emmanuel Dennis.
Manchester United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia; Bruno Fernandes, Casemiro; Antony, Marcel Sabitzer, Jadon Sancho; Anthony Martial.
How to Watch?
Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
We Say: Nottingham Forest 0-2 Manchester United
Man United’s form on the road has left a lot to be desired, but coming up against a leaky and injury-riddled Forest side devoid of morale should spur Ten Hag’s side to victory at City Ground.