Nottingham Forest v Arsenal: FA Cup Third Round Match Preview
Nottingham Forest host Arsenal in their third round FA Cup tie at the City Ground this afternoon (4.00pm kick-off UK time).
It’s the second time the teams have met in a cup competition in two seasons.
Last year’s meeting, which was in the third round of the League Cup, ended in a 4-0 win for Arsenal. Granit Xhaka, Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all scored in a comfortable win at the City Ground.
Indeed, Nottingham Forest have won just one of their past 14 matches against the Gunners in all competitions.
Arsenal have twice eliminated Nottingham Forest from the FA Cup, in 1978-79 and 1992-93 – they went on to win the trophy in both of those seasons.
Forest have though kept clean sheets in eight of their past 12 home FA Cup games.
The home side are in 14th place in the Championship table.
They have won one of their past eight league games and drew 0-0 with Leeds United at Elland Road on New Year’s Day.
The side have lost 14 times in the league so far this term, the joint second-highest number of defeats in the Championship this season.
A run of the results that led to the sacking of manager Mark Warburton on New Year’s Eve after nine months in charge at the City Ground.
The Club also sacked assistant David Weir while director of football Frank McParland has also left.
Academy manager Gary Brazil has taken over as caretaker manager until a permanent replacement is appointed.
Daryl Murphy is an injury doubt having come off in the home defeat against Sunderland. Ben Brereton was selected as a central striker against Leeds, but Tyler Walker is another option to play upfront.
This is what Brazil had to say at his press conference on Friday.
“It is mouth-watering for the fans and we need to make sure we put in a good performance for them. We want them to come to The City Ground and go away proud of what we have done.
“If you are not looking forward to it, and it doesn’t give you butterflies in the stomach, then you are in the wrong business.
“I don’t think there is ever a bad time to play Arsenal in the FA Cup! We are at home, there will be a big crowd and from a player’s perspective, I would be wanting the shirt.
You have got to make sure you have a game plan for yourselves but also acknowledge the opposition, exactly as we did for Leeds.
“You are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and areas that you can hurt them, but also areas where you can get hurt and you make sure you negate one and take advantage of the other.”
Arsenal are defending FA Cup winners and go in search this year of a 14th success in the competition.
The 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Wednesday has left Arsenal in 6th place in the Premier League table.
They are five points behind 4th place Liverpool, who occupy the final Champions League spot.
So Cup competitions offer the Gunners the best chance of trophy success this season.
They will face Chelsea in the two-legged semi-finals of the League Cup, and have advanced to the last 32 of the Europa League.
Arsene Wenger is in search of a record 8th FA Cup success. He will though start a three-match touchline ban today and has been fined £40,000 for his behaviour in the referee’s changing room after last Sunday’s game against West Bromwich Albion.
The Frenchman’s injury problems also continue to rise.
Granit Xhaka has been added to the lengthy list of missing players after picking a groin injury against Chelsea.
Sead Kolasinac (ankle), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Nacho Monreal (ankle), Olivier Giroud (hamstring) and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) all remain sidelined.
David Ospina is set to play in-goal today and against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Wednesday.
A number of younger players could be part of the matchday squad; with Reiss Nelson, Ben Sheaf, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Jordi Osei-Tutu and Josh DaSilva all in contention.
Arsene Wenger has never been eliminated in the third round of the FA Cup – Arsenal’s last failure to progress was in their last third-round tie before Wenger’s appointment, losing to Sheffield United in 1995-96.
This is what Wenger had to say about facing Forest.
“This is maybe the most difficult round because it’s always difficult to start well in a competition. To play away against Championship opposition it is intense. It is a big challenge for them. It is a very congested period.
“The Christmas period has been completely unfair. I am not against playing every two days, as long as the guy we play against has also played two days before. We need in the Premier League to get that much better affected.”
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Prediction: Arsenal to win 2-1