THE FA Cup continues on Sunday as Nottingham Forest welcome Arsenal to the City Ground. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal| Sunday 7th January 2018, 16:00 | BT Sport
Goals are well-fancied here but I’m actually going to go against the grain. Arsenal are into the Carabao Cup semi-final but if we look at their results up until that stage, the Gunners beat Norwich in extra-time after drawing 1-1 in the 90, they then beat both Doncaster and West Ham 1-0. All three ties were at home.
In the Europa League, Arsenal scored 14 goals across six matches, however ten of those goals came against Bate Barisov who conceded 16 in the group phase, the second most of any of the 48 sides in the competition. Baring that, they scored four goals in four matches, failing to score in the most recent of those two. Of course, Forest are definitely not playing anywhere the level of a European team, but the premise still holds.
Much changed Arsenal
With Olivier Giroud out and a Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday, a front-three of Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck is likely. That boasts little creative quality, and with a likely midfield duo of Mohammed Elneny and Francis Coquelin the Gunners could lack spark. Wenger himself has admitted that he will “rotate a little bit” so this will very much be a Europa League or Carabao Cup type team.
If Forest defend deep in two banks of four, they’ll minimise space for the Arsenal attack to run into and they could frustrate.
Forest themselves have failed to score in their last three league games, failing to score in three of their last five at the City Ground. Although Mark Warburton tried to get this side playing football, after last-weeks 0-0 draw with Leeds, Caretaker boss Garry Brazil suggested he was happy with how Forest “made it very hard for a decent Leeds team to break us down” and that he was “made up” with his sides commitment. This goes someway to explaining what Brazil has been tasked with. He took over a Forest team who were seven games without a clean sheet. Brazil had a spell in charge in early 2017 too, his opening three matches during that spell all saw under 2.5 goals.
We can’t forget that Arsene Wenger is serving the first-game of a three-match touchline ban too, if Forest can hold out early on, then Arsenal may struggle react.
Forest with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap at even money looks a solid shout, it sees our stake refunded if Arsenal win by the single goal. Under 2.5 goals is 69/50 and it probably shouldn’t be.
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal – Nottingham Forest +1 Asian Handicap (Evens Paddy Power)
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal – Under 2.5 goals (69/50 Marathon Bet)