Preview: Nottingham Forest vs. Sheffield United – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday’s Premier League clash between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Nottingham Forest welcome Sheffield United to the City Ground on Friday evening as both sides aim to bounce back from defeat on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Steve Cooper‘s side suffered a 2-1 loss at Arsenal in their first match of the new campaign, while the Blades were beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane.

Match preview

Nottingham Forest's Taiwo Awoniyi celebrates scoring their first goal on August 12, 2023© Reuters

When Nottingham Forest found themselves 2-0 down inside 32 minutes at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, it looked as though the visitors would endure a repeat of the 5-0 drubbing that Arsenal inflicted in the same fixture last season.

However, Cooper’s men managed to prevent the Gunners from adding to their goal tally, despite seeing just 21% possession in the capital, while Taiwo Awoniyi came off the bench to make it 2-1 following a mazy run and cross from fellow substitute Anthony Elanga.

Having avoided humiliation against Arsenal, the Tricky Trees will back themselves to pick up a positive result on their return to the City Ground, where they enjoyed plenty of success last term, losing only five of their 19 home league games in 2022-23.

In fact, Nottingham Forest claimed 30 of their 38 Premier League points on home soil last season, defeating the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool while drawing with Manchester City and Chelsea, so they will be hopeful of overcoming newly-promoted Sheffield United.

Cooper has made it clear that he wants to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes, but he will also be happy with the club’s business so far, as goalkeeper Matt Turner and right-back Ola Aina have followed Elanga to the East Midlands.

Crystal Palace's Joel Ward in action with Sheffield United's William Osula on August 12, 2023© Reuters

By contrast, Sheffield United’s need for new signings was made even clearer last weekend as the Premier League newcomers lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane, with the final scoreline undoubtedly flattering the home side.

Sheff Utd saw just 32% possession while managing a solitary attempt on target last time out, while the Eagles racked up a whopping 24 shots as they dominated proceedings in South Yorkshire, with Odsonne Edouard scoring the winning goal on 49 minutes.

Having gained automatic promotion from the Championship last season, it was vital that Sheff Utd bolstered their squad ahead of the new campaign, but manager Paul Heckingbottom has seen two of his best players leave Bramall Lane this summer.

Following the departure of key forward Iliman Ndiaye – who bagged 15 goals and 12 assists last term before leaving for Marseille – and influential midfielder Sander Berge, the Blades have so far failed to strengthen the squad that inspired promotion.

Gustavo Hamer, Vini Souza, Auston Trusty, Benie Traore, Anis Slimane and Yasser Larouci have been signed to add depth, but there is a sense that Sheff Utd must bring in more reinforcements before the end of the window in order to avoid a relegation scrap this season.

Nottingham Forest Premier League form:

Nottingham Forest form (all competitions):

Sheffield United Premier League form:

Sheffield United form (all competitions):

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Team News

Nottingham Forest's Joe Worrall celebrates avoiding relegation from the Premier League on May 20, 2023© Reuters

Nottingham Forest are still without long-term injury absentee Omar Richards, while centre-back Felipe and backup goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey also remain sidelined.

Taiwo Awoniyi is expected to start in attack after coming off the bench against Arsenal, with key defender Moussa Niakhate also pushing for a start as he nears full fitness.

Cooper opted to use three centre-backs at the Emirates last weekend, but the Welshman is expected to switch to a back four on Friday, creating more room for attacking players like Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White to thrive.

On the flip side, Sheffield United’s lengthy injury list contains John Fleck, Rhian Brewster, Ismaila Coulibaly, Jayden Bogle, Daniel Jebbison, Oliver McBurnie and Rhys Norrington-Davies, further highlighting the need for more players.

Heckingbottom relied on 20-year-old duo William Osula and Benie Traore to lead Sheff Utd’s attack against Palace, with experienced performers like Chris Basham and Oliver Norwood operating behind the forwards.

Ex-Forest players Jack Robinson, Max Lowe and Ben Osborn will all be hoping to get one over on their former club on Friday, as the trio are expected to continue in the Blades’ starting XI.

Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
Turner; Aurier, Worrall, Niakhate, Aina; Mangala, Danilo; Johnson, Gibbs-White, Elanga; Awoniyi

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Basham, Norwood, Lowe; Traore, Osula, Osborn

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We say: Nottingham Forest 2-1 Sheffield United

With the City Ground faithful behind them, Nottingham Forest have proved that they can compete with – and get the better of – the Premier League’s top teams on home soil.

Newly-promoted Sheffield United will not make life easy for the hosts, but Cooper’s side should have enough quality to claim all three points on Friday.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

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