FA Cup Preview: Expected Manchester United lineup against Nottingham Forest

United face a trip to the City Ground shorn of a host of key players but perhaps with an opportunity to firm up the midfield.

Manchester United v Fulham FC - Premier League
Manchester United v Fulham FC - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Manchester United play Nottingham Forest in the City Ground this Wednesday, knowing that defeat would in all probability be the final nail in the coffin on a disappointing season. The loss to Fulham at Old Trafford on Saturday left United 8 points adrift of 4th place and the guarantee of Champions League football next season. 

Defeat to a weakened Fulham side exposed many of the flaws that had been evident in recent weeks despite United’s positive results. Chief amongst the shortcomings has been an inability to manage the tempo and territory of a game, thus conceding an average of more than 16 shots against per game - the 3rd worst record of any Premier League team. 

United’s opponents Nottingham Forest lost 4-2 to Aston Villa this weekend with former United man Anthony Elanga missing a chance to draw his side level at 3-2 late on. Forest will go into Wednesday’s encounter as underdogs but can feel confident having outplayed and defeated United in the league meeting in December. 

Given United’s poor position in the league, the FA Cup has taken on more importance and therefore, United boss Erik ten Hag is likely to play his strongest hand against Nottingham Forest. There are a couple of injury updates that the Dutchman provided ahead of the game, with some key player missing for the FA Cup tie…

With that in mind, here is the expected lineup vs Nottingham Forest: 

André Onana is expected to start ahead of Altay Bayindir, who started in the last round in the absence of the Cameroonian.

Diogo Dalot had one of his poorer games at the weekend but has undoubtedly been one of United’s best player this season and will continue at right back. A mark of how important Dalot has been is that he has not been asked to shuffle over to left back. 

Jonny Evans should get the nod at the back, as Harry Maguire has been made unavailable by Ten Hag for this game with an injury.

Willy Kambwala could start alongside the veteran defender, as Raphael Varane is a doubt for the game due to injury.

Victor Lindelof once more has the unenviable task of filling in for Luke Shaw. He is unlikely to offer United any go-forward from his left back berth so must be 100% defensively on top of his game.

Kobbie Mainoo has been the brightest spark from United’s season so far. He improves with each game and will probably occupy the space vacated if Casemiro is deemed unfit. 

Scott McTominay has not been starting games recently, but a bit of forced rotation could offer a start for the Scotsman in a pivot ahead of Sofyan Amrabat.

Alejandro Garnacho has made the right side his own in recent times. Despite Amad Diallo and Antony as competition on this side, it could mean that with the reduction in availability, Ten Hag is likely to use his best attacking assets.

Christian Eriksen is expected to start in the number 10 role as the only realistic replacement for Bruno a Fernandes, who is likely going to miss his first Manchester United game due to injury.

Marcus Rashford should start on his favoured left side. He has had a disappointing season, with some fans keen to see the local lad offloaded this summer. However, United careers have turned around after FA Cup matches away to Nottingham Forest before… (‘Ta Ra Fergie’ anyone?)

Omari Forson made his first competitive start for United against Fulham, but was subbed off despite enduring a relatively bright first start. With the contract situation in mind AspB the lack of forwards available, he could start once more as he looks to get his first goal in the bag.