FA Cup preview: Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal - Gunners looking to avoid classic banana skin

Two of English soccer's most prestigious names prepare to do battle in the FA Cup this weekend.

Arsenal travel to Nottingham Forest on Sunday in arguably the most fascinating clash of the entire third round of the FA Cup.

Forest are enjoying an impressive resurgence since appointing former Swansea boss Steve Cooper. What's more, the club's fans will be remembering their 4-2 win over Arsenal in this competition towards the end of the Arsene Wenger era.

However, Arsenal boast a young, hungry, talented crop of players who are really rediscovering their identity under Mikel Arteta, and they will head north as the strong favourites to progress.

When, where and how to watch

When: Sunday, January 9, 17:10 GMT

Where: City Ground

How to watch: ITV

Follow this game via our score centre

Two clubs trying to get back to glorious pasts

There is little denying that both of these sides are highly significant ones in English soccer history.

Arsenal have been a mainstay of the Premier League and are rightly still considered one of the giants, even if they have not been a genuine force in the Premier League for some time.

Things are definitely moving in the right direction at the Emirates. Arteta is slowly identifying and removing the weaker characters who have almost defined the Gunners in recent times, and they are once again in with a genuine shot of qualifying for the Champions League.

You have to go a long way back to find Forest's glory days, but once upon a time they were the undisputed kings of Europe after winning back-to-back European Cups.

Nottingham Forest celebrate winning the European Cup

The Premier League era has not been kind to them though, and they have been chasing a return to that stage for too long now.

A disastrous start to the Championship season made it look like they were more likely to be fighting a relegation battle than a promotion challenge, but Cooper has done a fine job in steadying the ship.

Nottingham Forest currently sit just six points short of the play-offs, so they are definitely a club to keep your eye on in the second half of the season.

Last meeting

Arsenal 5-0 Nottingham Forest (September 24, 2019)

These two sides last met in the League Cup during the 2019/2020 season.

But don't be too fooled by the scoreline. Forest put up a real fight and were only a goal down with 20 minutes remaining.

Once the second went in, though, Forest crumbled and Arsenal ran riot, with them eventually coming out 5-0 winners courtesy of Rob Holding, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, and a Gabriel Martinelli double.

Recent FA Cup form

No club has won the FA Cup more than Arsenal, so no one will be surprised to see them with a fine recent record in the competition.

They have won it four times in the last eight years, although last season they suffered a fourth round exit at the hands of Southampton.

MIkel Arteta FA Cup Arsenal Aug20

A Gabriel own-goal midway through the first half was enough to settle it, but generally Arsenal deliver in the FA Cup more than anyone.

Famously, the FA Cup was the one trophy Brian Clough failed to win in his legendary spell as Forest manager. The final he guided them to in 1991 was the closest they have ever come to winning it.

They have only been past the fourth round once in the last 15 years, and that was the stage that saw them eliminated last season too after they were thrashed by Cooper's Swansea City 5-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

Past 10 meetings

Nottingham Forest wins: 2

Draws: 1

Arsenal wins: 7

Nottingham Forest goals: 8

Arsenal goals: 19

'Tough couple of weeks' for Forest

Lewis Grabban Steve Cooper Nottingham Forest Oct21

Like many clubs in England right now, Nottingham Forest have been battling Covid-19 outbreaks throughout their squad and staff and it's proven tough to overcome.

A nine match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day and they lost their next one at home to Huddersfield too.

"There's a lot of players out injured and covid has been riddled in the club now for a little while," Cooper said. "It's been a tough couple of weeks, in terms of dealing with it.

"Nothing has really changed on the injury front, Covid is just the thing which can have an impact - but we'll see how much.

"We're just trying to deal with it as though players have been out injured, because that is pretty normal, and they're coming back at different stages."

Arsenal also battling 'some issues'

Mikel Arteta pensive Arsenal Apr21

Arsenal have been in sparkling form of late but their momentum has been halted by a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City and postponed games due to Covid-19.

Arteta himself tested positive and missed the Man City defeat, and he says they are still struggling to get players back into training ahead of the game.

"We are really short with numbers, really, really short," Arteta admitted. "We have some issues."

Arsenal have been pretty ruthless when facing lower league opposition in the cup competitions this season, with West Brom, AFC Wimbledon, and Sunderland all beaten with an aggregate score of 14-1.

READ MORE: FA Cup exits: Mancini and Souness among the Premier League managers who bowed out after bowing out

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