Nottingham Forest begin 2022 by hosting Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Sunday afternoon.
Promotion-chasing Forest ended the calendar year with a pair of defeats and had their game against Barnsley scheduled for Monday postponed, while Arsenal come into the contest on the back of a fixture delay of their own – following Liverpool’s inability to field a side for the midweek Carabao Cup clash.
Here’s all you need to know about the cup tie pencilled in for Sunday.
When is kick off? Sunday 9 January, 17:10 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? The City Ground
TV channel/live stream? ITV 1 (UK), ESPN+ (US), Sportsnet (Canada)
Highlights? The FA Cup (10.30pm – BBC One)
Referee? Craig Pawson
Nottingham Forest were the side that had an appeal for their match against Barnsley accepted such was the spread of COVID and fitness concerns throughout the squad.
Former Arsenal youth team player Jordan Osei-Tutu joins regular substitute Alexander Mighten on the sidelines with respective ankle and knee injuries. Max Lowe (groin) and Loic Mbe Soh (thigh) are also doubts.
However, the squad has been boosted by the arrival of winter signings Steve Cook and Keinan Davis, with Canada international Richie Laryea also poised to join Forest.
Predicted Nottingham Forest lineup (4-2-3-1): Samba; Spence, Worrall, McKenna, Colback; Garner, Ojeda; Johnson, Zinckernagel, Silva; Grabban
Arsenal won’t be able to call upon their top cup scorer this season after Eddie Nketiah tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the club’s first game of 2022. Gabriel Magalhaes will be able to serve his one-game suspension after a second yellow card against Manchester City for the trip to the Midlands.
This is the first match in which Mikel Arteta will be without his quartet of African internationals after Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe joined the shunned captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on international duty.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ reported loan to Roma leaves Arteta short for midfield options.
Read Arsenal’s predicted lineup here.
Since Forest’s top flight relegation in 1999, the two clubs have met three times in cup competitions over the past five years; with Arsenal winning both League Cup clashes but losing to their upcoming hosts on their last visit to the City Ground in 2018.
That victory is one of only two Forest have earned against the Gunners in the last 30 years (D4 L10).
The north London side famously broke the top flight record for consecutive games unbeaten that Brian Clough and Peter Taylor’s Forest had set in the late 1970s.
After a healthy dollop of praise, Clough signed off his recognition of this achievement with a typically memorable assessment: “It sticks in the craw a little bit because it’s Arsenal. No-one likes Arsenal, only Arsenal fans like Arsenal. I was brought up not liking them.”
Manchester City may have punctured Arsenal’s five-game winning streak in their last competitive outing, but the Gunners delivered a performance against the reigning league champions that offered more encouragement than consolation.
Arteta will undoubtedly deviate from his established XI for the trip to Nottingham, yet, if Arsenal’s understudies can come close to replicating the displays of recent months, Forest may not be able to repeat their upset from three years ago.
Prediction: Nottingham Forest 0-2 Arsenal