In the Premier League battle that will take place on Sunday afternoon at the Emirates Stadium, reigning champions Arsenal will take on a Nottingham Forest team that is looking to avoid being winless in three straight matches.
While Steve Cooper’s team defeated Liverpool by a score of 1-0 over the weekend, the Gunners were defeated by PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League on Thursday by a score of 2-0.
Our Match Preview: Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest
Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons terrorized the Arsenal backline, but the result was coming for Mikel Arteta’s side.
As good as their winning run had been, the Gunners failed to impress against Bodo/Glimt, Leeds United, or PSV in the previous week. Luuk de Jong and Joey Veerman’s goals ensure Arteta’s side has it all to do against FC Zurich next week to clinch a last-16 position.
Having blasted out of the blocks against Southampton last week, the Gunners were pegged back by Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side – one of a succession of less-than-dominant displays that has led to a touch of unease – but as things stand, Arsenal is still top of the league.
Arsenal might drop to second if Manchester City beats Leicester City on Saturday, but a return to home comforts is precisely what they need.
The Gunners are on a 10-game winning streak at the Emirates in all competitions, including each of their previous eight in the Premier League, but they haven’t kept a clean sheet in that span, and Forest knows how to surprise the big boys.
Not since Newcastle United in November 2010 has a newly-promoted side won at the Emirates, but Nottingham Forest’s newfound defensive resilience should worry no team.
Taiwo Awoniyi reacted fastest to a loose ball to score in the 55th minute, while Dean Henderson’s outstanding goalkeeping kept Liverpool at bay in the closing embers – Alisson Becker would not score a second Premier League goal despite his best attempts.
The Tricky Trees have also held Brighton & Hove Albion to a goalless draw on the South coast. However, their position in the standings is still perilous as they are two points from safety.
Forest’s strong defense could test Arsenal’s offensive mettle, but Cooper’s team has just two road victories this season and has failed to score in each of its past four away matches ahead of its first-ever league visit to the Emirates Stadium.
Cooper and co. will have good memories of their FA Cup third-round triumph against Arsenal in January, but not since the Brian Clough days of 1989 have they won a league match at the home of the Gunners.
Our Team News: Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest
Key defender Gabriel Magalhaes was seen walking back to the team bus with an injury after Arsenal’s loss to PSV, so Arteta may be forced to make an impromptu reshuffle here.
The status of Mohamed Elneny (hamstring), Emile Smith Rowe (groin), and Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf) is still up in the air. Marquinhos (sickness) and Matt Turner (groin) did not play in the midweek match and are also questionable, although at most they would compete for bench spots.
If Gabriel is unable to play, Ben White might switch positions with William Saliba in central defense, while Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney would surge down the wings.
There will also be a return to the starting lineup for players like Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus, and Bukayo Saka, who has been sent off twice in Arsenal’s past two games for diving.
For the away team, Lewis O’Brien has been battling a particularly terrible sickness, while Omar Richards, Jack Colback, Harry Toffolo, and Moussa Niakhate all continue to be out due to various injuries.
Cooper should mainly stick with the same starting lineup that defeated Liverpool so well, although it remains to be seen whether O’Brien will be healthy enough to make the journey to the Emirates.
But since Jesse Lingard had another bad day and was taken off just after the hour mark, Brennan Johnson will hope to get back into the starting lineup quickly.
- Arsenal Possible Starting Lineup Options: Tomiyasu, White, Saliba, Ramsdale, Tierney, Xhaka, Partey, Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli, Jesus.
- Nottingham Forest Possible Starting Lineup Options: Henderson, Aurier, Cook, McKenna, Williams; Yates, Kouyate, Freuler, Gibbs-White, Awoniyi, Johnson.
Our Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Arsenal’s home games against newly promoted teams almost always end in a win, but the tired Gunners can’t take anything for granted against a Forest team that is gaining confidence by the week.
This is especially true given that Arteta’s side routinely fails to keep the opposition at bay when they play at the Emirates.
However, Cooper has not yet found a solution to his team’s wastefulness while playing away from home, and Arsenal’s return to their soil should be the key to them picking up all three points in this match.