Nottingham Forest v Arsenal preview: Arsene Wenger starts touchline ban in FA Cup clash
Last Updated: 07/01/18 9:04pm
Arsene Wenger is set to rotate his Arsenal side for Sunday's FA Cup third-round trip to Nottingham Forest (kick-off 4pm) - but the Frenchman will have to watch from the stands.
Wenger has been handed a three-match touchline ban and a £40,000 fine following a misconduct charge from the Football Association over comments he made about the refereeing of the game against West Brom.
As well as his City Ground sanction, Wenger will be absent from the dugout for Wednesday's Carabao Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea and Sunday's Premier League trip to Bournemouth, both of which are live on Sky Sports.
Wenger has never lost at this stage in the competition but after a busy festive schedule, admits he will make changes to the holders' starting XI.
"I will rotate a little bit because we have also come out of a very high-loaded period," he said. "We played three big games in six days and twice we were away, followed by a big game at home.
"We have to keep our level of focus, of urgency, because the third round is very difficult especially when you play away from home against a Championship team."
Forest academy boss Gary Brazil will remain in charge of the first team as the clubs continues its search for Mark Warburton's full-time successor.
While Wenger will shuffle his pack, he is certain to be without Granit Xhaka due to a groin injury.
Sead Kolasinac (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Olivier Giroud (hamstring) and Nacho Monreal (ankle) all remain sidelined.
Forest will check on the fitness of Daryl Murphy.
The seven-goal striker missed the goalless draw at Leeds on New Year's Day with a knock sustained during the defeat to Sunderland, which proved to be Warburton's final game as manager.
Nottingham Forest have won one of their last 14 matches against the Gunners in all competitions (D4 L9), and lost 4-0 at the City Ground in the League Cup last season.
Arsenal have twice eliminated Nottingham Forest from the FA Cup, in 1978/79 and 1992/93 - they went on to win the trophy in both of those seasons.
Forest have kept clean sheets in eight of their last 12 home FA Cup games.
Arsene Wenger has never been eliminated in the third round of the FA Cup - Arsenal's last failure to progress was in their last third-round tie before Wenger's appointment, losing to Sheffield United in 1995/96.
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
I am concerned about Arsenal here. Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Alexandre Lacazette won't play but the real concern is that defence. Per Mertesacker will come back in because Calum Chambers is absolutely broken.
I'd still expect Arsenal to progress with Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott good enough and experienced enough to get them through what looks a very awkward clash.
Charlie predicts: 2-3 (22/1 with Sky Bet)