Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Sunday 9 December, 17:10 kick-off
Live on ITV
Sunday’s Game of the Day is one of those filed under “proper cup tie” as Arsenal visit Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup.
Let’s dig in to a clash between two clubs with plenty of pedigree and history and watch out below for two suggested bets that YOU can vote for to have the price specially enhanced by the Betfair traders…
Cooper’s Forest full of promise
Steve Cooper has brought about a sense of calm, but also hope, to Nottingham Forest since his appointment as yet another new manager at the City Ground, but there’s reason to think he could stick around longer than most of his recent predecessors did.
The FA Cup always brings about memories for certain clubs and Forest are two-time winners of this, to go along with their two European Cup victories in a trophy history few can match. They’re a prestige club that really should be back in the big time.
Former Swansea boss Cooper has at least dragged them up from a poor start to the season and has them heading in the right direction in ninth in the Championship – six points off the play-off places.
Forest have lost their last two games and have not yet taken to the field this year after their game with Barnsley was postponed when a Covid outbreak left them short of players.
Cooper will get Forest playing in the right way, and he’s already made two signings – bringing in experienced defender Steve Cook from Bournemouth and Keinan Davis on loan from Aston Villa. Both could start against Arsenal.
Pre-Arsenal (h): Steve Cooper
Match tickets: https://t.co/suub90tNkA
? Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 8, 2022
Despite injuries and Covid, Cooper knows this is a great tie to showcase his style of play and hopes to produce a performance that will give all long-suffering Forest fans that he’s the man to take them in the right direction.
“We’re approaching the game in a real competitive way. We want to put a team out there that can commit to the game plan and try to do ourselves justice in how we want to play.”
Arteta’s Arsenal taking shape
It’s a really interesting period now for Arsenal with Mikel Arteta seemingly getting his message across and they were excellent and unfortunate to lose to Man City last time out and now look well set to make a top four challenge.
Arteta will be back on the touchline after missing that City game with Covid and admits he’ll be delighted to get out of the house after his isolation period – in the competition he won in 2020 just over six months after taking charge.
Now, the record 14-time FA Cup winners are also in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and well placed in the league – throw in another big run in this and Arteta and his young squad will really be flying.
And it is youth that Arteta is hanging his hat on, with the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Kieran Tierney, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard all 24 and under and able to form the base of the team for years.
So although this could be a game Arsenal would traditionally blood some of their talented kids in, there’s plenty of them already in the first team!
? Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 3, 2020
Charlie Patino is the one lesser-known youngster who could come into the fray, but Arteta admits that with so much Covid and injuries around it’s harder than ever to really plan too far ahead in terms of team selection.
“We are really short in numbers. For me now, it’s very difficult to plan. There’s no priority, you have to go game-by-game, regardless of the competition.
“You want to plan what’s going to happen in two or three games and you decide for key players not to play because they’re going to play in other matches, it doesn’t work like that, because maybe the next day they get Covid or something happens and you don’t have them!
“We go game-by-game, try to win every single game and then the rest will be much better.”
Stats and form
These two sides have played each other 100 times, with four of those coming in the FA Cup and the honours being even so far – Arsenal winning in 1979 and 1993 and Forest coming out on top in 1988 and 2018.
Interestingly, the two times the Gunners have beaten Forest they’ve gone on to lift the FA Cup at the end of the season..
Arsenal have obviously held the recent edge with five wins in the last six meetings, and there have been no shortage of goals lately, with Forest’s 4-2 FA Cup victory coming in between 4-0 and 5-0 wins for Arsenal in the League Cup.
Who remembers Eric Lichaj’s brace against The Gunners in 2018?
Join us at The City Ground: https://t.co/suub90tNkA
? Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 8, 2022
The Gunners perhaps don’t get enough credit for their remarkable FA Cup pedigree of late, with Arteta’s success not only being a record 14th for the club but also making it four wins in seven seasons.
So even now they’ve got a 50% strike rate over the last eight years and in such a big competition as the FA Cup that’s quite some achievement.
And they don’t tend to go out early either, with just one defeat in their last 25 third-round ties – although ironically that one early exit came at the City Ground four years ago.
Best bets and OddsBoost
You won’t get too many people backing anything other than an Arsenal win here but at 8/13 it’s best to double it up with something like over 2.5 goals given how the last few meetings have gone.
Arsenal and over 2.5 goals comes in at 13/10.
The Gunners have scored in their last nine games, with seven of those seeing them bag twice and four having three or more Arsenal goals in. It’s 9/4 that Arsenal bag three which could be well on if Forest open the game up.
You’d usually expect a few changes from Arteta given he’s got the two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool coming up either side of the north London derby, but as he says he may not have too many options.
So expect Smith Rowe, Saka, Odegaard and Martinelli to all play a part if fit, and all should have a say on this game in terms of creating and scoring goals.
Odegaard has three assists in his last four, and just before that scored three in three so he likes going on runs, and his extra quality can provide a goal here. He’s 11/4 for an assist.
It’s also 11/4 for Smith Rowe to score, which you’d fancy as he’s also got that extra bit of quality and he’s scored 10 goals this season including four in six despite not starting. Arteta had been managing his minutes but now he’s having to fight his way back into the side.
Lewis Grabban’s fifth league goal ensured a third straight victory
? Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) October 17, 2021
Forest haven’t scored in their last two games, but before that they won three on the spin thanks to veteran striker Lewis Grabban, who had two goals and three assists in that three-game span.
And watch out for 20-year-old academy graduate Brennan Johnson, who has Forest fans very excited after five goals and five assists so far this season. He’s 4/1 to score and 11/2 for an assist.
But it’s Grabban we’ll side with in our OddsBoost vote, as his goals are usually important ones with four of his 10 being the first goal of the match and another four being the last! He’s 7/1 to score first here.
Watch out for Betfair’s social posts to vote on one of these two to get an OddsBoost from the traders…