There’s a key battle between two Premier League relegation candidates on Friday night. Look ahead to the game with our Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United prediction and preview.
Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer narrowly favours Nottingham Forest (39.6%) over Sheffield United (30.0%).
- Key chance for both sides to pick up points after MD1 losses, with difficult fixtures ahead.
- Taiwo Awoniyi could become first Forest player since Stan Collymore to score in six straight EPL games.
It’s too early to label matches must-win as we enter just the second week of the new Premier League campaign, but Friday’s clash between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United will go some way to shaping how well the two teams start the 2023-24 season.
Forest and Sheffield United were both rated among the five most likely teams to suffer Premier League relegation in the pre-season predictions from the Opta supercomputer, and it was grim reading for the Blades as they were tipped to end up inside the bottom three.
The survival chances of both sides did not improve in Matchday 1, as each fell to defeat across the opening weekend.
However, after the season kick-off there is more optimism around Nottingham Forest’s prospects of remaining in the English top flight than their opponents. Having stayed up last season, Steve Cooper’s side ran Arsenal close on the opening weekend, narrowly losing to the title contenders at the Emirates Stadium.
Cooper knows points are a necessity against their newly promoted opposition, especially with matches against Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City on the Forest fixture list before the end of September.
Having lost their home opener against Crystal Palace, it is a similar story for Sheffield United too, as they play treble winners Man City after this clash.
Taiwo Awoniyi is in form for the hosts. After netting against Arsenal as a substitute, the Nigeria striker has scored in five consecutive Premier League matches and he could become the first Forest player to score in six straight top-flight games since Stan Collymore, who achieved the feat in 1995.
Former Manchester United winger Anthony Elanga also comes into this battle on the back of an impressive cameo off the bench. He only played the final 10 minutes against the Gunners, but made an instant impact, ending up with more chances created (2) than any other Forest player, and assisting Awoniyi’s goal.
This Sheffield United match is the only game involving a promoted side this week, with Luton versus Burnley postponed.
The last time these two teams played in the Premier League was way back in the first season of the competition. In May 1993, a 2-0 win for Sheff Utd at the City Ground ensured Forest became the first Premier League team to be relegated.
That is a fate both sides are desperate to avoid in 2023-24 and this game will give us a good indication of who looks more likely to survive.
Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United Head-to-Head
The last meeting between the teams was a memorable affair to conclude the 2021-22 season.
They did battle in the Championship play-offs and Forest won the away match 2-1, before Sheffield United turned the tables with a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture.
It was Forest who prevailed, though, winning a dramatic penalty shootout before going on to defeat Huddersfield Town at Wembley and seal promotion.
There was little to split the teams during the regular Championship season as well. Both matches ended in a 1-1 draw.
It is Forest who have generally fared better, though, losing just one of their last 13 home league games against Sheffield United, a run that includes seven wins.
Forest star Morgan Gibbs-White has thrived in this fixture, although he was previously playing for the opposite team. He scored twice for Sheffield United against Forest during his season on loan at Bramall Lane from Wolves, including a goal in the play-off tie.
Forest put in a decent performance as they lost 2-1 to Arsenal on the opening weekend. They edged the expected goals battle against elite opposition, registering 1.18 xG after Brennan Johnson missed a good early chance and Awoniyi scored his late goal to briefly threaten a comeback.
Everton (vs. Fulham) and Wolves (vs. Man Utd) were the only other two teams who lost in MD1 despite generating a higher xG total than their opponents.
While Forest (21.7%) were starved of possession, they restricted Arsenal to just 0.83 xG, an encouraging sign after they conceded 68 goals last season, the same total as relegated Leicester City.
Sheffield United struggled to create clear openings in their 1-0 loss against Palace. They only registered one shot on target from an overall total of eight, while Palace racked up 24 shots with eight of those finding the target. Burnley (0.33) were the only team to post a lower xG total on MD1 than Sheffield United (0.51).
Looking back to the end of last season, Forest ended the campaign with 11 points and just one defeat from their last six matches.
The fast finish for Cooper’s men included home successes against Brighton, Southampton and Arsenal. Forest only lost five of 19 top-flight matches at the City Ground last season, and strong home form will be key to their hopes once again.
They are looking to win four straight Premier League matches at home for the first time since January 1996.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, lost two of their last three away games in the Championship and they have struggled on their travels in their first away league game of a season in the modern era, regardless of what division they have been playing in.
Sheffield United are winless in their last 11 such matches and, stretching that out to the last 17 seasons, they only have one win, with five draws and 11 defeats.
Opta Power Rankings
Opta’s Power Rankings is a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of the game this weekend, here’s the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United Prediction
The stakes are high in this Premier League contest and the Opta supercomputer has had a tough time splitting the two teams.
With a year of experience in England’s top flight behind them and a good home record, Nottingham Forest are given the marginal edge with a 39.6% chance of securing victory, while Sheffield United have a 30.0% shot at getting all three points.
The supercomputer rates a draw as a 30.4% chance. Of all the nine matches taking place on Matchday 2, it is the highest percentage given to a draw.
However, that was also the case when Sheffield United faced Crystal Palace last week and the Blades had the fewest draws (seven) in the Championship last season, while none of their last 25 games in the Premier League have ended level.