Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United predictions: Forest to blunt Blades

Aaron Ashley
LiveScore
Steve Cooper's Nottingham Forest are in the driving seat against Sheffield United
Steve Cooper's Nottingham Forest are in the driving seat against Sheffield United

Nottingham Forest have one foot in the Championship play-off final after recording a 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Saturday and Steve Cooper's outfit look tough to oppose in the return leg at the City Ground. 

Forest were worthy winners on the balance of things in South Yorkshire, although Sander Berge’s injury-time consolation goal has at least given the Blades some hope of pulling off a comeback. 

Jack Colback had given Forest a 10th-minute lead before highly-touted youngster Brennan Johnson, whose performances have grabbed plenty of Premier League interest, netted his 18th goal of the campaign. 

Paul Heckingbottom’s hosts dominated possession in the opening leg, having had 61% of the ball, but most of the key chances fell Forest’s way as they brought eight saves from Blades stopper Wes Foderingham.

Cooper’s men headed into the play-offs as the form team and, having lost only two of their last 18 league games, may fancy their chances of teeing-up a date at Wembley on May 29.

Team news

With Billy Sharp expected to miss out, the pressure falls on Morgan Gibbs-White for Sheffield United's attacking threat
With Billy Sharp expected to miss out, the pressure falls on Morgan Gibbs-White for Sheffield United's attacking threat

Finding a regular source of goals has been Sheffield United’s main problem this season and injuries to strikers Rhian Brewster, David McGoldrick and Oli McBurnie — who will miss the rest of the play-offs — are not helping their cause. 

Top scorer Billy Sharp also missed the first leg and is expected to sit out again, leaving Morgan Gibbs-White and Iliman Ndiaye the two likely to lead the line. 

Brentford loanee Charlie Goode and Jayden Bogle are also absentees from the Blades’ backline. 

Nottingham Forest are also missing the focal point of their attack in Lewis Grabban, although they were given a boost with Keinan Davis returning to the bench for the first leg. 

However, defender Max Lowe is still missing. 

The stats

Brennan Johnson scored in the first leg and is an obvious danger to Sheffield United on Tuesday
Brennan Johnson scored in the first leg and is an obvious danger to Sheffield United on Tuesday

Home is where the heart is for Forest, which makes the task the Blades are faced with look particularly daunting. 

Since Cooper was appointed as manager in September, the East Midlanders have won 23, drawn 10 and lost only six of their 39 Championship games.

Cooper has turned the City Ground into a fortress and they have lost only one of their last 16 home league games while they have won each of their last seven. 

Forest have netted at least twice in each of their last 10 league fixtures on home turf, which spells trouble for a Sheffield United side missing a lot of firepower through injury. 

The Blades won only one of their final seven away league games and they have failed to beat Forest in any of their three meetings this season. 

Predictions

A draw will be good enough to see Forest reach the Championship play-off final, but they may be able to do better than that and can record a second victory in this tie. 

Cooper's side have been utterly dominant on home soil in recent months and they have greater attacking quality in their ranks than the Blades, who have been hit hard by injuries. 

Sheffield United won only eight of their 23 away league games and they will be heavily reliant on the impact of Berge and Frenchman Ndiaye, who has four goals in his last six matches. 

That said, Forest are defensively strong and have kept six clean sheets in their last nine league games at the City Ground, so should be able to deal with the threat. 

Forest can win this inside 90 minutes and move within one game of the Premier League.

Tags

ChampionshipNottingham ForestSheffield United
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