For the start of their domestic cup campaign, in the newly named EFL Trophy, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is expected to make a multitude of changes from the weekend’s 1-4 victory over Hull City, a result that saw the Gunners move into the top four.
With Arsenal fully focussed on their Premier League title challenge, the competition is thought to be far from the top of Wenger’s wish list, although it is a trophy he has failed to win over the course of his tenure - making the final twice, but losing on both occasions to Chelsea in 2007, and Birmingham City, infamously in 2011.
The competition has also been a source of embarrassment for Wenger and Arsenal in recent years, knocked out by Bradford City in 2012, during their remarkable run to the final and as recent as last year, Nottingham Forest's Championship rivals Sheffield Wednesday upset the Gunners, who suffered an array of injuries that night - with goals from Ross Wallace, Lucas Joao and Sam Hutchinson enough for a 3-0 victory at Hillsborough.
Wenger was adamant that spirit is high following Saturday’s resounding win in East Yorkshire, speaking before tomorrow tie, the Frenchman said “Everyone came out of the Hull game well.”
Meanwhile, Forest sit 13th in the Championship table after a poor run of form has seen them slide down the order. Yet to win September, the Reds are winless in their last three games, a slump that manager Phillippe Montanier will be desperate to change at the City Ground tomorrow, but it will be far from easy.
This is the first time the two clubs will meet in this millennium, a 0-1 victory for the Gunners in January 1999, a rare goal from Martin Keown enough to settle the matter in a season that saw Forest relegated after just one season back in the top flight. The game also marked Ron Atkinson's first game in charge of the Reds - notable for him initally sitting in the wrong dugout.
In the 97 clashes between the two sides over the course of 112 years, Arsenal have the upper hand and are surefire favourites to claim another victory.
Head-to-Head: Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Arsenal wins: 49
Nottingham Forest wins: 26
There are a few familiar faces to Arsenal fans in the Forest ranks, including Armand Traore, Henri Lansbury and outspoken striker Nicklas Bendtner - who spent a colourful ten years in North London before being released. Bendtner insisted that he will not go over the top if he manages to score against his former employers, in an interview with BBC Nottingham.
“Most people don't celebrate when they score and some go absolutely crazy and start chaos, which is fun,” the 28-year-old said “For me out of respect I will celebrate a little bit, but it won't be crazy.”
Additionally, the Dane was not prepared to rule out a potential upset. “In cup games, we have have seen it over the years that many things can happen.”
Potential line-up: Stojkovic; Lichaj, Mills, Mancienne, Fox; Lansbury, Cohen, Kasami; Carayol, Bendtner, Dumitru
For the visitors, defender Gabriel may make his awaited return after picking up a knee injury in Arsenal’s final game of pre-season, against Manchester City; Olivier Giroud will not travel up, after sustaining a toe injury during his brief cameo in the draw against Paris Saint-Germain last week. Aaron Ramsey is also out for the Gunners, yet to recover from his opening day hamstring injury.
But, Wenger is relieved that he has no fresh injuries to worry about, and will not chance most of his main squad.
“I don’t think [Ramsey] will be ready for the weekend either.” the 66-year old speculated. “Giroud is still not available - we will see at the end of the week if he can join in.”
It is unlikely that new signing Lucas Perez will start.
Potential line-up: Ospina; Debuchy, Chambers, Holding, Gibbs; Elneny, Coquelin; Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Akpom