Arsene Wenger is expected to make major changes to his starting lineup as Arsenal begin their FA Cup defence starting with a 3rd round clash against Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal will begin their FA Cup defence in the 3rd round with a visit to Nottingham Forest on Sunday, and Arsene Wenger is expected to ring in the changes to his starting XI. These changes will be a welcome breather to some stars, especially in the light of mounting injuries and a busy festive period.
Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac missed the Chelsea game last week and become part of a growing injury list which includes Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Nacho Monreal, as confirmed by the club. Additionally, Granit Xhaka is expected to miss the Nottingham Forest clash too, with a slight groin problem.
Arsene Wenger has options in his squad for a clash like this and will use his squad depth on Sunday. As seen in the Europa League and Carabao Cup this season, several Arsenal youngsters have started and performed until now.
As the Europa League enters its knockout rounds, The FA Cup represents yet another opportunity for these youngsters to get game time.
Wenger is not expected to revert from a five-man defence in favour of his preferred back-four, as he knows the potential risk of taking any opponent lightly, especially from the Championship and one that is struggling. The side expected to face Nottingham Forest will have the right mix of experience and youth.
David Ospina is set to start while Per Mertesacker should be afforded a rare start and will lead the side. Rob Holding and Mathieu Debuchy are expected to play on either side of him in a three-man defence. Ainsley-Maitland Niles should retain his left-wing back spot and Reiss Nelson is pencilled to start at the right wing-back position.
Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin are the best available midfielders for this clash, as Wenger would want to give some rest to Jack Wilshere after featuring throughout the festive period. Wilshere’s midfield partner, Xhaka has a slight groin problem which rules him out of the game altogether.
In attack, Joe Willock could start behind Arsenal’s potential forward line pairing of Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. Walcott who is yet to start a Premier League game this season and linked with a move away from Arsenal has featured rather regularly in the club’s Europa League and Carabao Cup campaigns.