Man United: AWB proved his worth vs Forest
Manchester United took another step closer to ending their six-year trophy drought after seeing off Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening, with the Red Devils running out 5-0 winners on aggregate following a rather comfortable, second-leg outing at Old Trafford.
Despite suffering some early scares late in the first half – as both Brennan Johnson and Emmanuel Dennis went close to getting on the scoresheet – the hosts never truly appeared in danger of letting their first-leg lead slip, with a raft of changes midway through the second period having subsequently taken the tie away from Steve Cooper’s men.
That triple switch saw Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all enter the fray to help kill the game off once and for all, with the latter man swiftly making his mark after netting his sixth goal of the season in just 14 games in all competitions.
That lead was then extended just minutes later as midfield machine, Fred, bundled the ball home from close range following clever build-up play from both Bruno Fernandes and Rashford, with Erik ten Hag’s side surging their way to a 12th successive victory on home soil in the process.
Amid what was a rather serene outing for his in-form side, the former Ajax boss will likely have been particularly impressed by the performance of resurgent right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, with the Englishman again proving his worth to his manager.
Who should start when Dalot is fit?
Aside from his notable blip in the defeat to Arsenal – having been culpable for Eddie Nketiah’s opener – the 25-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable return to form following the World Cup break, having more than capitalised on the injury absence of teammate, Diogo Dalot.
The former Crystal Palace man – who has started the last six top-flight games – again proved particularly effective down the right flank against Forest, while also showcasing his adaptability after frequently dropping into an almost central midfield berth when the home side had possession.
Although he remains somewhat erratic on the ball, having squandered possession on 19 occasions, the £50m man does appear far more comfortable going forward as a result of working under Ten Hag, having completed two of his three dribbles on the night, while also making 45 passes and earning four fouls for his side.
Having shown his ‘sense of adventure‘ by getting forward repeatedly, as per Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst, Wan-Bissaka also illustrated his much-lauded ball-winning prowess, having won a staggering ten duels in total, including winning nine of his 13 ground duels.
Once praised as the “best one-on-one defender for a full-back in the world“, it does appear that the Croydon-born machine is getting back to his best as a result of his regular run of games, with Dalot set to find it difficult to regain his place in the side.
Another notable element of Wan-Bissaka’s evening was that the number nine was ripped from the back of his shirt at one stage, leaving behind the typical right-back number – two – with that perhaps foreshadowing that he is in line to make that full-back berth his own…