Feed on
From Arsenal.com

And so to the City Ground, Nottingham, for the third round of the FA Cup on the feast day of St Basilissa, whom the devout invoke against chilblains.

Moving on.

For two teams that have played each other 100 times and first met in 1904, it is odd that the four encounters in the FA Cup have all been since 1979. Honours are even, two wins apiece. The sequence is: won (1979, when we went on to win the Cup), lost (1988), won (1993, when we went on to win the Cup), lost (2018, our first third-round defeat since 1996). 

Here’s hoping the sequence holds — all the way.

Nottingham Forest first won the FA Cup in 1898, beating perennial East Midlands rival Derby County, 3-1. We had lost to Burnley in the first round after winning three qualifying ties.

We have gone on to win the FA Cup 14 times, but Forest has done so just once more, the 2-1 win over Luton Town in 1959. Elton John’s cousin, Roy Dwight, scored Forest’s opening goal but was later stretchered off after breaking his shinbone in a tackle that would end his career.

Forest’s only other appearance in an FA Cup final was in 1991 during the last knockings of the Clough years. They had the ill-grace to lose to the neighbours, 2-1.

Peak Clough had brought two European Cups, a league title, and two league cups. Cloughie would win two more league cups after his break-up with Peter Taylor, but 1991 was his only FA Cup final as player or manager.

The Clough era ended with Forest’s relegation at the end of the inaugural season of the Premiership. The club bobbed back and forth until being relegated for a third and, to date, last time in 1999. Forest has plied its trade in the Championship since save for a brief spell in the third tier in the mid-naughties. 

The Opposition
Forest started this season even more disastrously than we did: one point from their first seven league games. Manager Chris Houghton was sacked in September. His replacement, former Swansea City and England youth teams coach, Steve Cooper, has transformed the club’s fortunes. Only one of the next 16 games up to Christmas was lost, taking the team from bottom to within hailing distance of the playoff spots. 

Two narrow defeats in the two games since Boxing Day have not diminished belief at the City Ground that an exciting young team is coming together that is good enough to get back to the Premiership. 

Cooper got Swansea to the playoffs in both his seasons in Abertawe and is strengthening his Forest squad for a second-half push. Aston Villa’s promising young striker Keinan Davis has come in on loan to reinforce the firepower upfront. Centre-half Steve Cook has been bought from Bournemouth to provide playoffs experience to the defence alongside ever-presents Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna. Richie Laryea, a pacy, feisty Canada international who can play full-back and wingback, is on the way from Toronto in the MLS.

Cooper switches up his formations but tends to play 5-4-1 or 3-4-1-2 against stronger teams. However it lines up, his team will be tactically disciplined and well structured. Like most young coaches (he is 42), Cooper wants his team to control games through possession and pressing. Forest will be physical in doing so and in driving into the half-spaces and getting men in behind. Think Graham Potter’s Brighton.

Much-travelled striker Lewis Grabban (Forest is his 12th club) and Nottingham-born, 20-year-old Wales international midfielder Brennan Johnson are the danger men. Grabban has ten goals and four assists, while Johnson, who is attracting attention from mid-level Premier League clubs, has five with four assists. Philip Zinckernagel, a Danish winger on loan from Watford, is also among the goals with four, plus four assists.

Last Monday, Forest’s scheduled league game against Barnsley was called off because of a lengthy list of injuries and Covid infections in the Forest camp. Most missed of half a dozen injury absentees on Sunday will be first-choice left wingback Max Lowe. He and Middlesborough loanee Djed Spence on the opposite flank are the heartbeats of Cooper’s system. Former Newcastle DM Jack Colback’s switch out wide to cover Lowe’s absence has been detrimental to central stability.

Our very own Jordi Osei-Tutu’s season long-loan at the City Ground has been cut short, following another long-term injury for the young right-back, but he would have been ineligible to play against his parent club. We are also unlikely to see Karl Jenkinson, formerly of this parish. The Corporal is on Forest’s books but has played only four minutes since October 2020 and is deemed surplus to requirements.

The Arsenal
We shall have an unfamiliar look. The team will play in an all-white strip in support of the No More Red campaign to keep young people safe from knife crime and youth violence. Full marks to the club.

The eleven itself will be more familiar. The postponement of Thursday’s first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Liverpool eases the rotation dilemma for Arteta, as does a depleted squad.

We know our AFCON contingent — Partey, Elneny, Pepe, Auba and Rekik — will be unavailable. Gabriel is suspended. Kolasinac is back in training but nowhere near match ready (no change there). Chambers may not be back from Covid, but Nketiah is. According to Arteta, ESR is carrying an injury that limits him to appearances off the bench, and he may not even make it that far on Sunday. Maitland-Niles will be in Rome. That will open space in the matchday squad for Charlie Patino and Salah-Eddine Oulad M’Hand.

Assuming that the pre-game round of Covid testing does not upset selection at the last minute, I am guessing that unforced rotation will be limited to starts for Leno in goal and the Carabao Cup Player of the quarter-final round, Nketiah. Patino might conceivably start, but it would be a gutsy call for what will be a tough match.


Tomiyasu, White, Holding, Tierney

Lokonga, Xhaka

Saka, Ødegaard, Martinelli


Bench: Ramsdale, Soares, Mari, Tavares, Patino, ESR, Balogun, Lacazette, Salah-Eddine.

Special FA Cup rules for this season: clubs can use up to five of nine named substitutes, and there will be no replays in the third and fourth rounds. If scores are level after 90 minutes, it is 30 minutes of extra time, then a penalty shootout if required.

The ‘holics pound
The bookies have us as short-odds favourites. Yet, this will not be an easy game against a team that could be in the Premiership next season. A 2-0 win seems realistic, but there is not much value to be had unless we score three or more goals; 3-0 and 3-1 are available at fourteens. If you fancy that we can score four, you can find odds in the thirties.

Let’s hotfoot it into the next round.

Enjoy the game, ‘holics near and far.

53 Drinks to “No Cold Feet In Nottingham”

  1. 1
    Trev says:

    Thanks, Ned – interesting, history and fact packed preview as ever 👍🏻

    Oulad M’Hand sounds like something straight out of Round The Horne …. Oh yes you do !

    It’s to be hoped Forest don’t also play in a No More Red kit, or we’ll be in for a most confusing, nay bewildering afternoon. Seriously, good on the club for supporting a worthwhile and increasingly vital campaign.

    Eddie Nketiah could be our match winner again in this one as he has a history of banging them in for fun against Championship level defences.

    If your team is correct, I will go for a 3-1 win – no money going on it here though 😏

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Hey, Ned. Great preview! Something about Zinckernagel’s name scares me but I think we can pull this one off with sufficient elbow grease and creativity. COYG

  3. 3
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned!
    I wonder if Arteta will go for a few more changes but we don’t have so many riches and it’s a tough match. I will go for either 5-0 or 2-1. Easy or nervous, but no middle ground (within the ‘Arsenal wins’ limits…).

  4. 4
    ClockEndRider says:

    Great preview, Ned. Thanks vm. It will be interesting to see what team MA puts out. Given the u23s team on Friday, I think we will at least see the likes of Patino on the bench if not the starting 11. And I can’t help thinking we’ll see Tavares at LB. If the noise about Soares is right then it will be a case of , perhaps, C100 taking his boots and getting a sub berth at RB. Looking forward to the game hugely.

  5. 5
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Now that’s what we call a preview, all the way back to 1904! 🙂
    Excellent and educational as ever, Ned. Thank you!

    Laudable initiative by the club with and surrounding the “No More Red” campaign. Wishing the best for these efforts to translate into material difference into the lives of these troubled youngsters.

    I like your team, but maybe Mikel will give KT a rest and let Tavares loose in tandem with Martinelli … not a fun proposition for any defense, and Kieran can be back refreshed for the semifinal first leg and then the NLD.

    Good luck to Ainsely on loan. I like Roma, the city, and also the club since the days of one Francisco Totti, and despite their current manager I am sure Ainsley would enjoy his stay.
    This deal definitely would not have been allowed if we didn’t have a player or two coming in (permanently or in loan) … hopefully they would arrive soon.

    An away FA Cup match against an in-form team from the second tier would be a difficult one, especially given how many of our first eleven wouldn’t have any such experience, so I would take any win in 90 minutes.

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    Terrific preview Ned. St. Basilissa is a new saint to me but someone needs to give you chilblain protection . Your background research is unrivalled but if I can nitpick our rivals triumphed 2-1 in 1991. We all remember Stuart Pearce’s thunderbolt .
    I think Arteta will be a bit more experimental . I think we will see Tavares start and I think Pepe will start too. Xhaka has missed training all week and if he can’t play then I think we need to put in the often overlooked Chambers who played well for Fulham in that position a couple of seasons ago .It’s been a Cup of shocks so far and this is a potential shock if we don’t have the right attitude from the outset. We were awful the last time we played them in the Cup with a glacially slow central defence of the BFG and Capitola Rob. But we need to keep our momentum and I think a 3-1 victory for us will result

  7. 7
    Doctor Faustus says:

    TTG@6: Isn’t Pépé away at AFCON?

  8. 8
    TTG says:

    Dr F
    You are quite right I had forgotten that . I suspect Odegaard and ESR will play and I have a hunch we may see Nketiah then

  9. 9
    TTG says:

    Four youngsters have travelled . Salah M’hand, Patino, Hutchinson and Biereth . The latter two played part of the game on Friday so we may have Covid issues not yet revealed . Nine subs can be named so one assumes it is the eleven who finished last Saturday plus these four plus possibly Leno , Sambi , Tavares, Nketiah and Chambers .

  10. 10
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Really great preview Ned. No-one does em quite like you do.

    Although, like TTG, I have one small quibble: Clough’s first name was Brian, not Peak. 😉

  11. 11
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m very proud of the club for the No More Red initiative. Growing up in London I’ve had friends non-fatally stabbed, one kid from my school fatally stabbed and a knife held to my own throat. And the current situation appears to be worse.

    It is such a striking initiative to see Arsenal in an all-white kit. I can’t wait. (Personally, I’d be happy to buy one of those kits if they sold them and donated all the money to the the charities listed on the website)

    Also, while I’m at it… I really love Idris Elba. He is an absolute legend. He is exactly the sort of man who has the credibility to front this campaign in the eyes of some of the people it is aimed at. Great choice.

    I hope this has some impact, and inspires others to make a difference.

  12. 12
    Bathgooner says:

    Great piece, Ned. Happy with your selection and with any kind of victory. The bookies are probably right but I think this match is going to be a significant hurdle. We are going to be light in midfield and Forest are going to be up for a scalp and a scrap. I do hope Xhaka is fit and keeps his head (pace TTG).


  13. 13
    scruzgooner says:

    nicely done, ned. i appreciate the effort you and the monks go through!

    3-1 to us. somehow.

    up the arsenal!

  14. 14
    Countryman100 says:

    As others have said above, a masterful preview from one who gives great preview. As ever for a cup game, I’m really looking forward to making the short trip to Nottingham (90 minutes) to join 5000 other Gooners tomorrow. A table is booked at the excellent Bombay Bridgford for after the game. I hope we play a strong team because Forest are on a roll.

    What did she wear?

  15. 15
    TTG says:

    I echo GSD’s comment about knife crime .
    It is a hugely responsible and important initiative from Arsenal particularly from a club situated where they are in the heart of London
    My experience of knife crime comes from 15 years as a magistrate and it is an extraordinarily serious challenge especially in the inner cities .Idris Elba and Wrighty are two very appropriate flag bearers for the campaign .
    Drive safely C100 and enjoy what I hope is the first step on the Road to Wembley

  16. 16
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks all.

    Well spotted, TTG@6. Your memory is clearly more than a match for my proofreading! Perhaps our tech whizzes could set the record straight (done – TechWiz).

    I went for Tomi and KT3 rather than Tavares because the wingbacks are so critical to Cooper’s formation and I thought Arteta would want his established full backs on the field to negate them pair vs pair. I had ESR starting until Arteta said what he did about him in the press conference and then realised ESR was nowhere to be seen in the training photos. I also discounted Chambers because of the reports that he was still not fully recovered from his Covid bout. If Xhaka is out, I would expect Ødegaard to play deeper and maybe Patino would get a start; I expect him to come on at some point. Interesting that Biereth has travelled. Apart from Covid coverage, it might indicate something about Balogun’s loan.

    It is going to be a tough game between two patched-up sides. I remain hopeful our patches are better than theirs.

  17. 17
    Silly Second Yella says:

    In another Pepe
    2000 light years from Pepe
    Can’t you hear me knocking, Pepe
    You gotta move, Pepe
    Shake your hips, Pepe
    Till the next Pepe
    Dear Pepe
    Parachute Pepe
    Jigsaw Pepe
    Emotional Pepe
    Send it to Pepe
    She’s So Pepe
    Sympathy for the Pepe
    It’s only Pepe but I…

  18. 18
    Uplympian says:

    That’s a wonderful preview Ned…chapeau!
    I expect Arteta will want to put out a strong team – our previous cup visit there 4 years did not turn out well! Much will depend on availability in our weakened areas. No doubt Forest will be up for this and appear to be a well organised side under their new management. I’ll be happy with a win – a good one will be a real bonus. Here’s hoping c100 will be enjoying a celebratory curry post match.
    Just to concur with others, what a great initiative by the club and those involved to spotlight the devastating effects of knife crime amongst the young community – we do some great work locally.

  19. 19
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks Ned!
    Sets the game up nicely, 3-0 would be a good revenge for last time.

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    H/t to the whizz.

  21. 21
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Ned,
    Why are they Forest anyway – you can’t play football in a forest unless you’re Robin Hood.
    2-0 if we can see the wood for the trees.

  22. 22
    Countryman100 says:

    Some quite intellectual but interesting stuff on Gunners Town

    Mikel Arteta: The Soul to Success

  23. 23
    Las says:

    Thanks Ned, I didn’t know the history we have with Forest. Great knowledge, hats off!
    Now cross the fingers and let the history repeat itself.
    I would like to see a strong performance but I can’t guess the starting lineup. We will have a congestion of games later on and on paper Forest looks to provide a chance for the second sting to show off.
    3-1 to the good guys.

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@22: Thanks for the link. Intruiging comparison. It didn’t hurt Phil Jackson that he had two of the greatest-ever players in Jordon and Pippen at the Bulls and two more in Shaq and Kobe Bryant at the Lakers. But he integrated them into teams that swept all before them.

  25. 25
    Esso says:

    Cheers Ned!

  26. 26
    Esso says:

    Rumours Patino starts.

  27. 27
    Trev says:

    Excellent article at that link @22, thanks Countryman 👍🏻👏🏻

  28. 28
    Trev says:

    Hey Esso ! Happy New Year, mate, to you and Patrick !

  29. 29
    Esso says:

  30. 30
    Esso says:

    Cheers Trev!

  31. 31
    Cynic says:

    I know it’s a good cause, but Arsenal wearing white will always be wrong.

  32. 32
    North Bank Ned says:

    More changes than I had expected. I assume Xhaka and Tomiyasu have tested positive for Covid as they are not on the bench. (Too much to hope Xhaka got on the plane to Rome with AMN?). ESR must be as crocked as I feared. Bench looks a mix of the walking wounded and those barely old enough to walk.

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    Mikel Arteta speaking to ITV:
    “We’re very excited. This is a competition that is very much attached to the history of our club.
    “What do I want to see from Charlie Patino? I want to see that he is himself, playing football, which is what he loves most.
    “He has an opportunity to play today; we have nine players out of the squad for different reasons. We are short of players there and we want to see him.”

  34. 34
    Cynic says:

    Tomiyasu only just got back from Covid, so he’s simply being rested I would hope.

  35. 35
    scruzgooner says:

    not a great start

  36. 36
    scruzgooner says:

    nice turn and shot eddie

  37. 37
    Cynic says:

    About eight million gone off Nketiah’s value tonight.

  38. 38
    OsakaMatt says:

    Nick the winner and it’ll be a couple of million up

  39. 39
    Cynic says:

    Fully deserved if they lose. Awful display.

  40. 40
    OsakaMatt says:

    Clear handball in the build up

  41. 41
    Gooner_KS says:

    Where is Xhaka when you need him 🤣?

  42. 42
    Las says:

    Surprisingly awful performance. Hard to beleive it is a same team than against Citehh.
    Really poor….

  43. 43
    Cynic says:

    I guess there’s one positive we can take out of this game.

    We’ll never wear that kit again. 🙂

  44. 44
    Bathgooner says:

    An extremely disappointing performance. This was always going to be a difficult cup tie away to a hard bitten Championship side replete with scrappers keen to take the scalp of a ‘bunch of fancy Dan southern softies’. We deserved nothing from that game. Our midfield was far too lightweight and I fear that isn’t going to be rectified in a timely fashion. On the basis of most of his performances to date in MF, I really don’t believe AMN would have made much difference to that performance or the outcome. I’m not convinced that Xhaka would either.

    At least our key men didn’t have to run around dodging thuggery for another 30 minutes on a cold January night. Arteta will have learned a bit more about the limitations of some of that team. However the next three games are a huge challenge for this team now,

  45. 45
    Bathgooner says:

    And, while the cause is worthy……..

    Look like Spudz

    Play Sp*rzy.

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    Forest were tactically disciplined and well structured, as predicted. They negated us like lower-half Premiership teams do. We know the way to beat that is to play at pace. We just didn’t do that. As Bath says, the next three games are a big challenge. We could be looking at a run of five losses, which would be a big dent in the progress made of late.

  47. 47
    TTG says:

    Following Arsenal this season is like a game of Snakes and Ladders . The difference between the Citeh performance ( possibly the best side in Europe ) and the Forest effort ( possibly a slightly above average Chamionship side was extraordinary. We were quite terrible and most of the side merited no more than 5 or 6 out of 10.
    I’d give 5 or less to Cedric , Tavares , Holding , Lokonga , Patino ( But he gets a compassionate exemption because he was thrown in way before he was ready ) and Nketiah . That substitution of Kolasinac at the end was bizarre . What was the thinking behind that ?
    The pessimist in me sees very serious problems for the rest of the season if we can’t prosper over the next three games . Apparently Klopp is admitting there were several false positives on Wednesday . Knock me down with a feather . Arteta’s future will be heavily dependent on how we negotiate the next fortnight

  48. 48
    Cynic says:

    Liverpool should forfeit the first leg 3-0 and we should play the Emirates leg to finish off the tie this week.

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    You are quite right but the chances of that happening are zero

  50. 50
    Cynic says:

    More chance of someone nicking a cheeky half century

    *raises bat*

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    Well in for the half-ton, Cynic.

  52. 52
    bathgooner says:

    At least someone with Arsenal affiliations is alive to an opportunity!

  53. 53
    scruzgooner says: