A trip to the City Ground awaits for our upcoming fixture, an away EFL Cup clash with Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Considering our convincing 4-1 away win on Saturday, as well as the number of experienced youngsters left out of the matchday squad to face Everton’s u23’s on Monday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a number of them feature in some capacity against Philippe Montainer’s side. Even still, Forest have the potential to pose a number of problems, not least the home advantage they will experience at a sold-out stadium.
Although there are no new fresh injury doubts for Arsène Wenger to factor into his starting XI, Gabriel (knee) could feature at some stage after recovering from the nasty-looking injury he suffered in our final pre-season friendly before the campaign began early in August.
Rob Holding, who hasn’t featured since Shkodran Mustafi’s arrival, could start alongside the Brazilian if he is passed fit to play but the general consensus is that Wenger will use a second-string side with a rotational mix of youth and experience.
Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Olivier Giroud (toe) have minor issues, so should be ready to feature in some capacity with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side making the short trip to north London on Saturday in the Premier League.
Kieran Gibbs and Jeff Reine-Adelaide could be in line for their first senior starts of the season, along with 20-year-old forward Chuba Akpom too.
Possible XI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerín, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny, Xhaka; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine-Adelaide, Perez; Akpom.
As the underdogs in this cup tie, Forest will relish the opportunity to test their credentials against one of the best sides in Europe.
First-team manager Philippe Montainer was full of praise for us in the pre-match press conference, and said it’d be “a great achievement” for them to prevail and consequently progress into the last-32.
“It’s exciting to be playing against one of Europe’s biggest clubs. The stadium is sold out and we’re going to need every one of our fans tomorrow night because it will be a very tough challenge.”
The 51-year-old, appointed this summer, also had plenty of praise for Wenger with his 20-year anniversary as Arsenal boss this week.
“Arsenal have always had great stability and bring through talented players who play in the same style. Arsene Wenger is a very good example for French managers and he sets the standard for those of us working in Europe.”
Nicklas Bendtner’s fitness has improved quickly since arriving at the Championship outfit and he’ll be ready for a potential start against his former employers.
Britt Assombalonga, Damien Perquis and Thomas Lam are all unavailable for selection through respective knocks, as confirmed by Montainer himself but even still, Forest have enough quality in their ranks to pose plenty of questions for Arsenal’s backline.
Amongst them is versatile Hildeberto Pereira, who is on a season-long loan deal from Benfica. The 20-year-old is a right-winger who can also double up in a more defensive right-back position, as well as doing an effective job playing as a striker too. There is an option to buy in his current contract deal with Forest and based on his performances thus far, they’ll be eager to activate the clause at the end of the season.
Possible XI (4-3-3): Stojkovic; Lichaj, Mills, Mancienne, Fox; Cohen, Kasami, Lansbury; Carayol, Pereira, Bendtner.
Having suffered a defeat against lesser opposition in the fourth round last season, Forest pose similar threats that Sheffield Wednesday did and if we struggle to get off to a promising start, there’s no doubt we’ll potentially be in for a long evening.