Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest League Cup Odds, Pick: Play The Over/Under

Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest League Cup Odds, Pick: Play The Over/Under article feature image

Laurence Griffiths/Getty. Pictured: David De Gea.

Manchester United vs. Nottingham Forest Odds

Wednesday, Feb. 1
3 p.m. ET
United Odds-245
Forest Odds+710
Over/Under2.5 (-134 / +105)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)(+100 / -124)
Odds via bet365. Get the latest soccer odds here.

No team has ever come from three goals down in the second leg of a League Cup semifinal in the cup's history. After Manchester United thrashed Nottingham Forest 3-0 at the City Ground last Wednesday, that's the task facing Steve Cooper's Nottingham Forest side as the two-legged semifinal shifts to Old Trafford in Manchester.

Forest had their chances to remain within touching distance — a disallowed goal that would have leveled the match at 1-1 and an 89th minute Bruno Fernandes goal made it 3-0. Manchester United produced more than 2.5 xG in the match and were clearly deserved winners.

The question surrounding this second leg is what choices United make with their top talent. Christian Eriksen is out until April and Scott McTominay has been ruled out, which means you can expect a midfield pairing of Casemiro and Fred. Bu,t this is also United's 10th match since New Year's Eve.

Erik Ten Hag has to make a decision on whether he'll play star attackers Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, knowing they have three league matches in the next 10 days. With some rotation expected and no need for United to chase margin or goals, there is a value side.

Manchester United Improving in Numerous Ways

United's main improvements this season haven't come from the attack, but from the defense. The Red Devils have drastically improved in transition defense, out of possession structure and set piece defending. All three were major issues for Man United under Ralf Rangnick and especially Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Now, United are fourth in ball recoveries, third in xG per set piece allowed and fifth in big scoring chances conceded. All of that contributes to 8.6 xGA allowed in nine home league matches this season. The attack has mostly been carried by the red-hot goal scoring streak of Marcus Rashford, who I don't expect to start this match with a three-goal lead on aggregate.

Rashford has more than double the xG and goals of any player at the club — twice as much as Fernandes. This could be a prime spot for both to rotate out of the side as Ten Hag turns to youngsters Anthony Elanga and Alejandro Garnacho. Both have shown plenty of promise in limited spells, but neither are as productive as Rashford when he's in form like this.

Losing Eriksen is more of a loss to this United attack than you'd think too. Eriksen had 0.42 assists per 90 and seven total assists this season. Only Fernandes had more progressive passes in the whole side, and no one completed more passes into the final third than Eriksen. Fred is more of a ball-winning and defensive choice, but he doesn't have the passing range to break open a defense that Eriksen does.

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Nottingham Forest in Deep Trouble

The main problem for Nottingham Forest in the first leg is that they were able to generate 13 shots, but most of them were low quality. Forest were a bit unlucky to not get that goal in transition because of the offsides, but they only created 0.65 xG at home in 90 minutes. They are now dealing with plenty of injuries of their own.

Morgan Gibbs-White has been the best ball progressor for this Forest side and he went off injured last match. He leads Forest in passes completed into the penalty area, dribbles completed and touches in the attacking third. Without Gibbs-White, Forest lose their most talented and productive attacker.

Taiwo Awoniyi will miss this match up front for Forest as well, which leaves Brennan Johnson and potentially Emmanuel Dennis up top. Dennis has produced 0.17 xG per 90 in four 90s this year, which is not nearly good enough. Jesse Lingard could play in this match, but his 0.18 xG + xA per match is not inspiring as a potential Gibbs-White replacement.

Forest don't have a clear way of exploiting United on the road, especially if the Red Devils play a first choice defense and don't take a ton of chances in possession up 3-0 in the tie.

United vs. Forest Pick

The over/under closed at 3 for this exact fixture on Dec. 27 in the Premier League, so you are paying a bit of a cup tax and a second leg tax with the total sitting just north of 2.5 on Wednesday.

Given how well the United have run relative to their xG in the last couple of months, it's a good time to sell high on an attack that is unlikely to have Rashford and questionable to have Fernandes. Expect to see United in second gear for most of this match given that Ten Hag played a strong side against Reading in the FA Cup last weekend.

Forest's attack should also be weaker given its injuries and United's stellar defense at home, so I'll take this under at -105 or better.

Pick: Under 2.5 (-105 or better)

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