After an undeserved loss against Manchester City and cancellation of the Carabao Cup semi-final game against Liverpool, Arsenal will resume action in a different competition. Arsenal begin their FA Cup campaign against Nottingham Forest tonight at the City Ground. Though the FA Cup is regarded as the Gunners’ favourite competition, having won it for a record 14 times, this fixture has a different black lining altogether.
The prediction of the lineups has been difficult for the recent fixtures as Arteta has remained tight-lipped about the availability of his players. Which player is sidelined due to injury and who has contracted Covid is being kept completely under the sheets as of now.
But one thing that Arteta has confirmed in his pre-match press conference is that “We are short at certain places”. Yes, 6 players are certainly not available for selection – Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe due to AFCON duties, while Folarin Balogun and Maitland-Niles are moving on loan.
Also, Arsenal have a Premier League game against Tottenham coming up next weekend, sandwiched between two Carabao Cup semifinal legs against Liverpool in the span of 7 days. Considering the importance of those 3 games, Arteta might need to think about resting some of the key players in tonight’s match.
Well, the Nottingham Forest game will not be an easy game for Arsenal either. So the changes must be done with utmost care. Although the hosts lost their previous meeting with the Gunners by a margin of 5-0 in the Carabao Cup, Arsenal ended on the losing side (4-2) the last both of them met in the FA Cup. And to be fair, they have quite a good record against the North London side – Won 26, Drawn 20, Lost 45 in 91 games.
Eric Lichaj set them on their way with this thumping effort, and the correct score was 100/1! 🚀
— BettingOdds (@BettingOddsUK) January 7, 2021
Arteta and his men need to put up a good fight in every possible cup competition, given they are not competing in any European cups and the League title also seems a pretty distant possibility this season. Therefore, Arteta’s most probable strong team would be an interesting one.
Arsenal Predicted Starting Lineup Against Nottingham Forest
The Spaniard is back after complete recovery from Covid and will be managing the game directly from the dugout himself. As per protocol, all players will be tested for Covid-19 before the game and then the team would be selected from available members.
The unpredictability of the starting lineup is very high at the moment. However, we will consider everyone as 100% fit and available, unless otherwise mentioned, and select a possible playing XI for the Nottingham Forst vs Arsenal game. The visitors are expected to start the game with the regular 4-2-3-1 formation.
Bernd Leno (GK): With Ramsdale’s top-notch performances in the Premier League, Leno is now a Cup-bound keeper. The German shot-stopper will be in charge of the goal against the Reds.
Cedric Soares (RB): Cedric seems to be Arteta’s 2nd choice RB at the moment and will be given the nod for tonight’s game.
Rob Holding (CB): The only Arsenal player in the playing XI having endured the 4-2 defeat in the FA Cup three years ago. Holding will look to take revenge for that humiliating loss.
Ben White (CB): Gabriel’s suspension will allow White to represent the Gunners in the prestigious FA Cup. He will be Arteta’s “trusted guy” in the backline to cover up for any mistakes on the field.
Nuno Tavares (LB): Tierney’s recovery has kept Tavares out of Arsenal’s starting lineup in the Premier League. Tonight’s game would be a golden chance to make a strong case for himself. He is a talented player who could be useful up in the opponent’s half too.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (CM): Lokonga would be returning to the starting lineup after waiting for more than a month. He will be the most important player for the Gunners in midfield and will need to be at his best to control the game on both ends of the field.
Charlie Patino (CM): Arsenal’s new kid on the block will get his first start with the senior team. His performance in the Carabao Cup game against Sunderland was an encouraging and delightful sign for the fans. He might play the deep-lying playmaker role in the game.
Bukayo Saka (RM): The youngster has been in exceptional form this season, scoring the team’s only goal against City last week and grabbing a brace against Norwich the week before. Arteta will be hopeful of him continuing his scoring run against Nottingham Forest and giving Arsenal the attacking edge.
Martin Odegaard (AM): The Norwegian midfielder will be in charge of making the decisive plays in the opponent’s half. Although Arteta has played Odegaard very frequently, he will still be part of the team to run the offence.
Emile Smith Rowe (LM): Smith Rowe will get to start the game for the Gunners tonight. He has some scored goals coming off the bench this season and he will be granted a starting spot to showcase his productivity from the start.
Eddie Nketiah (ST): Though Nketiah is certain to leave Arsenal, the transfer might not happen before the last week of the month or any replacement is signed by the team. Till then he will be filling in the striker’s position for the Gunners in cup ties.
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Arsenal might have lost their last FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, but this is a very different side with an aggressive mentality. The Reds have been performing well in the Championship, but performers like White, Saka, Odegaard, Lokonga and Smith Rowe will certainly be game-changers for the Gunners.
Scoreline: 3-0 in favour of Arsenal
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