Jan 26, 2023
Erik Ten Hag and Manchester United bounced back from the loss at Arsenal at the weekend with a comfortable win against Nottingham Forest at the City ground. It now seems an uphill task for Forest to go to Wembley for the final and they will need nothing short of a miracle when they travel to Old Trafford for the second leg next week.
Ten Hag will be hugely pleased with the outcome and he now has the chance to give some of his players a rest for the second leg. United’s schedule in the coming weeks is packed so the rotation will be key.
Reaction after Arsenal defeat was key
The result at the weekend was disappointing for the United players and fans. While Arsenal is riding high at the top of the Premier League, United’s unbeaten run since the restart was broken. The performance was not too bad however the way they backed off in the second half and invited pressure from the opposition was poor.
However, they started well against Forest and played on the front foot. Steve Cooper opted for a diamond in the middle of the park and this proved to be a tactical mistake as it allowed United to exploit the width of the pitch, which Marcus Rashford exposed brilliantly with the opening goal. Rashford’s terrific form continues and he has now scored 18 goals this season.
Wout Weghorst opened up his account as a United striker as he scored the second goal of the game towards the end of the first half. This was an important goal as it allowed United the ability to control the game by holding onto possession.
The team desperately needed a striker this window and he has looked decent. He holds up play well and allows the wingers to occupy their positions, where they are most effective. Weghorst also has the ability to drag the opposition’s centre-backs out of their positions which opens up space for other attackers to exploit.
He is not blessed with pace and this is an issue especially when United look to counter-attack. Goals give players confidence and Weghorst took his goal well as he followed up Antony’s shot on the rebound. It is clear he is a natural number nine as he possesses that poacher-like instinct we associate with centre-forwards.
Trophy this season is huge for Manchester United
United fans have been starved of trophies for almost six years. The last piece of silverware the club attained was the Europa League under Jose Mourinho in 2017. This competition is a good domestic cup to win as it has proved to be a stepping stone for teams to kick on and we have seen this happen with Manchester City.
Ten Hag is doing a fabulous job at the club and it seems the culture has changed where there is a belief United have chosen the right man who can take them back to the glory days. He will hope to win this trophy so it can also serve as a stepping stone for United to go on and compete for all the biggest prizes in world football.
They also have a chance to achieve success in the Europa League and the FA Cup this season therefore if they win this trophy, it could give them the belief and confidence to go far in the other competitions too.
Steve Cooper and Forest will be disappointed and they needed a positive result to give them a chance at Old Trafford next week. They had some moments in the first half and they were unlucky with a goal ruled out however United were the dominant side and deserved to win.