With no Premier League action this weekend, we begin our defence of the FA Cup this weekend with a tricky away tie at Nottingham Forest. Man City, Liverpool and Man United all won their cup games this weekend, with Chelsea drawing with Norwich, a replay adding to their fixture congestion problems.
Arsene Wenger will begin his three match touchline ban after calling out Mike Dean as a cheat (which he is), and will also miss our League Cup semi-final next week and our Premier League game with Bournemouth next weekend. Mike Dean has actually admitted he got the decision wrong but it looks like Wenger will remain banned as it was his vociferous protests and alleged abusive language which landed him in hot water it seems.
So, for the Forest game, we would probably have rotated the side anyway, but just for good measure, we’re still without Monreal, Kolasinac, Koscielny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Giroud and of course Santi Cazorla. Ainsley Maiteland-Niles could also feature in the game as his good form continues. Theo Walcott could be in the shop window for this January transfer window, in all fairness there can’t be too many Arsenal fans who want him to stay given his recent performances and his acceptance of remaining a second string player, not showing any determination to fight for his place.
After this FA Cup game, we play Chelsea on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge so there are sure to be a lot of squad players used with one eye on that and then a few days later we travel to Bournemouth, back to Premier League action as we try and claw back the six dropped points over the Christmas period. The week after we have a chance to book our place in the league cup final with our second leg of the semi-final at The Emirates, Wenger’s squad selection probably determined by what happens against Forest and where our focus then lies.
So this tie is far from a walk in the park given all of our current injuries, but you’d expect us to have enough to sneak through just about, I’m going for a 3-1 victory, with Theo Walcott having a good game for a change (if he starts).
The game in the UK will be broadcast live on BT Sport with a 4pm kick off.