Mikel Arteta will field a much-changed lineup for the FA Cup third round tie with Nottingham Forest, with Charlie Patino in contention to feature.
After a disappointing and unsuccessful FA Cup defence last season, Mikel Arteta will be eager to add a record-extending 15th title when they begin their domestic cup journey away to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. The Gunners are expected to put out a much-changed but strong lineup against their opponents from the Championship.
Since Arsenal’s Boxing Day win over Norwich City, a lot has happened around the club. However, Mikel Arteta has most of his players available for this clash. The Arsenal manager will be cautious with his selection, considering the schedule change of their midweek Carabao Cup tie against Liverpool.
They also have an important North London Derby coming up, so Arteta is unlikely to risk his important first-team stars here for the cup clash. Gabriel Magalhaes misses out after being sent off against Manchester City on New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka has been absent from training for the past two days, which raises some concerns.
With an obvious shortage in numbers at midfield, Charlie Patino’s name has been thrown in the mix as a possible starter against Nottingham Forest. Considering the current options, the teenage prodigy is certainly in line for a start, especially if Xhaka remains unfit for the game.
Arteta was asked about the youngster in his pre-match press conference, but the Arsenal manager held information tight to his chest. He said, “All of the players involved in the first team have the opportunity to do that and they have to feel that they have the chance to do that. Charlie is not an exception.”
Considering Arteta will field a second-string side here, Bernd Leno is expected to start in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale. A full change in the back four personnel is expected, with Cedric Soares, Rob Holding, Pablo Mari and Nuno Tavares in line to take charge.
Albert Sambi Lokonga is the only senior central midfielder available now, and the Belgian should start and gain some match sharpness ahead of the North London Derby. Patino is expected to partner him in the middle. Other youngsters such as Omari Hutchinson and Salah-Eddine Oulad are also likely to be in the matchday squad.
Gabriel Martinelli could be afforded a place in the lineup and might take up the right-wing berth in place of Nicolas Pepe. Emile Smith Rowe is a certain starter in the no.10 role, while wantaway forwards Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun should complete the offensive unit.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Leno; Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares; Lokonga, Patino; Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Balogun; Nketiah