Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United is a replay of the 2022 EFL Championship playoff semi-final which Forest won. The Tricky Trees would then go on to claim the playoff title and win promotion to the Premier League for the first time in decades. Sheffield, meanwhile, would toil for one more season in the second tier of English football. Both teams are now facing off in the Premier League for the first time in 30 years. The City Ground will host the first clash between both teams in the 2023/24 English top-flight season.
Steve Cooper, having lost his opening game narrowly to Arsenal on 12 August, will be looking to give the fans of the club something to be happy about when they come out en masse. Sheffield United and their depleted squad will be hoping that they can muster enough fight to finally win against their hosts for the first time since 2019. It will be even more special if they win on 18 August because it will be their first league win at the 30,445-capacity City Ground since 2008 (in the EFL Championship).
Manager Paul Heckingbottom is in the same place as Cooper was last season and he will be spurred to prove that he can handle a top-flight team when he travels to the familiar ground of his matchday 2 opponents with his squad. The former defender was also the manager of Sheffield United when the club lost the opportunity to grab a ticket to the Premier League last season, thanks to a playoff semi-final loss to their Friday 18 August opponents. It will be a grudge match for the Englishman in this rare clash of two British managers in the Premier League.
The club’s fans will be the best part of the tie. The Championship is one of the most engaging football competitions in the world. The atmosphere that they will create in a Premier League clash will also add to the appeal of the league. This will create a better experience for the fans of both clubs and neutrals who will be watching at home. The 2023/24 Premier League season is officially in full swing and this clash will provide insight into what the mid-table and relegation spots battle will look like. Both teams are among the top favorites to be relegated so they will be looking to earn points against each other.
Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United tickets are already on sale for the match which will take place on Friday 18 August at 7:45 PM. It is the first home game for the Tricky Trees. This means that the tickets will most likely be sold out before that day. For this reason, many fans of the club will have to resort to ticket reselling websites and platforms for theirs. Most of the traveling fans of Sheffield United will also have to resort to ticket resellers to be able to catch the action live on that day.
The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports and on other broadcast partners around the world. It may not pull in a lot of views because it is not a game of the highest stakes but Premier League viewership numbers tend to outdo every other football league. Many Nigerian fans, especially, will be tuned in for Taiwo Awoniyi as he has now replaced Kelechi Iheanacho in the Premier League as the most exciting Nigerian talent in England.
Sheffield manager Paul Heckingbottom has also come under scrutiny as expected after his opening-day home loss to Crystal Palace. The 46-year-old has now become bookmakers’ favorite for managers who will be sacked first, following the reaction to Sheffield’s first match. As such, Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United tickets will be very popular among the Blades fans.
No knocks were sustained by either team on opening day, meaning that they will both have their full squads available for their second league game. Things could change in training during medicals and physiotherapy, however, especially with Awoniyi, Nottingham Forest’s goalscorer in the last game.
The Nigerian striker picked up an ankle issue in pre-season but was deemed fit enough to start from the bench against Arsenal. The club’s fans will hope that he did not aggravate his ankle problem when he played against Arsenal. Sheffield United have only one player who is out of the squad thanks to a hamstring injury. As stated earlier, the wave of opening-day knocks missed both them and their upcoming opponents so they will have their complete squad for the tie. However, Heckingbottom is desperate for new additions to his side.
Ahead of the clash with Crystal Palace, the Blades manager said: “Prince Abdullah [Abdullah Bin Mossad Al Saud, owner of Sheffield United] has assured me that money’s there to spend so we need to go and spend it. “I’m not going to speak about players’ names but you only have to watch us train and we have got a lot of young boys in our group.
“From November 21 (2022) when we took over, we’ve lost 18 players from the first-team squad and got six in. Forget the quality, we are 12 bodies light. We’ve done a lot of good work to replace that with boys from the academy but we’ve also sold a lot of talent from the academy. We’re desperately light regardless. We’ve done a lot of recruitment and have a lot of potential to work with but I am pushing for players with that little bit more experience, ones who I know what I’m going to get from and who can give us a big lift as a group and for the fans.”
He will have the same squad to choose from unless the players he wants arrive at the club before the Forest trip.
The transfer window is still ongoing and both teams could add some more players before they meet at the City Ground in Nottingham. Awoniyi will be back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in their defeat to Arsenal on matchday 1. He will be supported by Morgan Gibbs-White, with whom he formed a great partnership in the 2022/23 season. Brennan Johnson, however, will have to impress in training to prevent Manchester United academy graduate Anthony Elanga from taking his spot.
The Sweden international replaced the Welshman in Forest’s match against Arsenal and quickly changed the game for the Tricky Trees. It was his assist that Awoniyi capitalised on to grab his first goal of the season and give Steve Cooper’s side a lesser goal difference despite the loss at the Emirates. They will be coming up against a Sheffield United defence that comprises Anel Ahmedhodžić, John Egan and Jack Robinson.
Paul Heckingbottom, manager of Sheffield United, is also going to be counting on his stalwarts George Baldock and Chris Basham against Forest, who they used to battle often until the Tricky Trees sealed promotion to the top-flight last season. Beanie Traoré and William Osula will once again be strike partners as they look to make Iliman Ndiaye’s exit less painful for fans of the Blades.
Nottingham Forest: Turner; McKenna, Worall, Boly; Aina, Mangala, Yate, Aurier; Gibbs-White, Awoniyi, Elanga
Sheffield United: Foderingham; Ahmedhodžić, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Basham, Norwood, Osborn, Lowe; Traoré, Osula.
Both Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United have started well enough in the 2023/24 season. When both teams meet on matchday 2, they will find that it will be a lot easier to seal a result against each other than it would to grab points from Arsenal or Crystal Palace.
Sheffield United will be worried about the fitness of Nigerian striker Awoniyi, who is going to be leading the line for their hosts. The game will be end to end like a typical English football match. Also, both managers will focus more on defence so as not to lose any points in their second game. The hosts, however, will pick up the win, albeit narrowly.
Nottingham Forest 2-1 Sheffield United.