Antony of Manchester United tussles with Danilo of Nottingham Forest during the Premier League match

Mik Bowers. Dazn Bet’s very own football fanatic, and unashamed Man-U fan, brings us regular highlights of his favourite games. If you’ve missed the game, or just want a reminder, then Mik’s got you covered. Focusing mainly on FA Cup, The Premier League and occasional games from the major European tournaments, Mik gives us his thoughts on the matches.

A big win for Man United

Manchester United returned to winning ways against a spirited Nottingham Forest side, despite having a couple of key players out because of injury. Although both Casemiro and Erikson, who returned from suspension and injury last week, were both selected, United still have the talisman Marcus Rashford (groin), Lisandro Martinez (ankle), Raphael Varane (ankle) and Luke Shaw (thigh) out because of injury, which meant Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils boss, had to select an unused back 4 with Aaron Wan-Bissaka slotting in as right back. The very much in form Marcel Sabitzer was also withdrawn from the lineup during the warm-up. “Sabitzer felt something, we decided not to take the risk and we will find out tomorrow what it is” Erik ten Hag told the BBC Match of the Day

This game could have been a potential banana skin for United with Nottingham Forest fighting for Premiership survival. Teams at the lower end of the league, at this time of year, tend to fight for everything, which Forest did. Steve Cooper, the Nottingham Forest manager, hadn’t had a win in the previous 9 games and, statistically speaking, they were probably due to something

This was a big win for Manchester United with the teams just above and below them in the league all dropping points

Tottenham lost at home against AFC Bournemouth 2 – 3 and Aston Villa beat Newcastle 3- 0 to help the reds cause. Even Arsenal dropped a couple of points only drawing away at West Ham. This also allowed the other team in Manchester chance to catch Arsenal in top spot. With Manchester City winning and now only 4 points behind Arsenal it looks like the fight for top spot could go to the wire.

This win puts Manchester United in 3rd place, 3 points above Newcastle in 4th and 6 points above Tottenham, in fifth, who have played 1 game more than United

Antony starred

Antony of Manchester United celebrates scoring the first goal during the Premier League match

Antony, the Brazilian who joined Manchester United in August last year for a fee of £81 million (The sixth most expensive player in Premiership history) scored on and then set up the other. His opener, on the 32 minute mark, ended his run of 6 games without a goal.

Antony always looks dangerous. He likes to get forward, he likes to cut in from the right and shoot with his left, and he did this several times during the game and looked to be getting closer. But, it was a stab home at the far post following a strike from Anthony Martial for United’s opener. The Nottingham Forest keeper, Keylor Navas, could only parry the ball into the path of the oncoming Antony

Antony also works hard for the team and tracks back to defend when needed. Which, he needed to do several times during the match

Antony also set up Diogo Dalot in the second half, with 14 minutes of the game to go. Antony, again cut in from the right and dropped a beautiful pass into Dalot’s driving run and the Portuguese International slotted home much to his, and the travelling United fans, delight.

Man United always in control

runo Fernandes during the Premier League match at the City Ground

Manchester United started much brighter than in previous games and Jaydon Sancho, who seems to be getting better with games under his belt, should have scored in the first 2 minutes only to see his shot blocked from the Forest defender Felipe

Man of the Match Bruno Fernandes enjoyed his afternoons work in Nottinghamshire and also could have been on the score sheet if not for the impressive Keylor Navas, who pulled off a string of fine saves including a special effort from Fernandes. The Forest keeper pushing the ball over the bar from a wickedly struck shot from the Portuguese midfielder

With Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen running  the show in midfield, and Sancho and Antony creating havoc up front, it always looked like United were in control

Casemiro was quietly efficient but he wasn’t as influential as in previous games. Maybe missing the last 5 games due to suspension hadn’t helped his fitness. Or, he just didn’t want to get booked and miss any future games, especially now with the run up to the business end of the season

Harry Maguire of Manchester United defends against Scott McKenna of Nottingham Forest

Man United’s Defence

United’s defence, albeit a makeshift one, stood pretty solid at the back. The only weak link for me is the ‘down on his luck’ Harry Maguire who plays like every touch is being scrutinized by the press. Which it probably is. Maguire is still a very good player and I think he has a future with Manchester United. But, he is definitely playing with the world on his shoulders and is even vilified by small sections of the United faithful. His booking on the 3rd minute is typical of his current run of form. The yellow card, for bringing down Forest forward Taiwo Awoniyi, could have been red if the forward had been closer to goal. This meant Maguire had to play a further 87 nervy minutes with a yellow card hanging over him

Ten Hag didn’t have much to choose from on the United bench to replace Maguire or any of the back four, so it was just as well the game was won in midfield and up front

In fact, only 2 substitutes were used this time round with Wout Weghorst coming on for Martial in the 72nd minute and Fred coming on for Eriksen in the 79th. This helped Man United see out the win and the very important 3 points

Europa League

The win will probably help boost morale for the game against Sevilla for the Europa League on Thursday with United travelling to the municipality of Cadiz again to face the other team in Seville, 4 or so weeks after playing Real Betis there in the same competition. United will find it a little bit harder in front of the partisan home fans in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium, Sevilla’s stadium than they did against Nottingham Forest, but this win will put them on the front foot. Despite them not being at full strength. Ten Hag’s United could reach  the last 4 of the Europa League if they can overcome Seville after drawing 2 a piece last week at Old Trafford, where 2 very late own goals gave the Sevilla outfit a lifeline

My Verdict

Manchester United always looked in control against a struggling Nottingham Forest side but the lack of options on the bench could prove difficult against the harder competition. United need their injured players back to full fitness with only 8 games left in the league and a couple of games to go in the Europa League and in the semi-final of the FA Cup. If United are to lift any further silverware, they probably need the likes of Rashford, Shaw and co. back sooner rather than later.