Saturday’s Premier League fixtures close out with a lopsided contest between Nottingham Forest and Arsenal at the City Ground.
After holding a downtrodden Chelsea side to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge last weekend, Steven Cooper’s team could secure top-flight survival as early as Saturday evening.
However, it’s a long shot. Forest must avenge a humiliating 5-0 defeat in the reverse fixture in London and hope Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Everton elsewhere to secure a Premier League encore.
But with three points separating them from the red zone with only two matchdays left, the Tricky Trees remain in a decent position relegation-wise.
On the other hand, Arsenal’s hopes of ending a two-decade title drought in the Premier League are practically dead in the water following last weekend’s woeful 3-0 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Mikel Arteta’s men now trail table-topping Manchester City by four points despite playing one more game and will, in all likelihood, have to settle for a first top-four finish since the 2015/16 season.
Despite the gloom within the Gunners’ camp, their most recent Premier League travel yielded a convincing 2-0 victory over Champions League hopefuls Newcastle United, injecting some confidence into their ranks.
If you’re an Arsenal fan looking to make the trip to City Ground, there is still a chance to get Arsenal tickets today, but you’ll need to act fast. For what it’s worth, next weekend’s home game against Wolves is expected to be a celebration with fans acknowledging the home team’s excellent performances this season. Plus home tickets are usually in higher supply, so we suggest picking up those instead.
Consistency has been Forest’s worst enemy in recent months, with none of their last five Premier League matches seeing the same outcome replaced twice in a row (W2, D1, L2).
On a more positive note, after going winless in five consecutive home league games (D3, L2), Cooper’s men have won their last two on the trot by an aggregate score of 7-4.
Though this is their first Premier League campaign in the 21st century, the Tricky Trees can find some comfort in the fact they’ve only lost their final home outing in one of their last eight top-flight seasons (W5, D2).
But it’s been almost three decades since they last defeated Arsenal at home in a league encounter, most recently doing so in 1996, though there’s a silver lining.
They’ve won both previous competitive H2Hs at the City Ground.
Arsenal’s triumph at St James’ Park on their most recent league travel halted a mini-drought on hostile turf (D1, L2), but they’ve not won back-to-back away league matches since March.
But a clean sheet at Newcastle was a significant improvement on massive defensive woes that had seen them concede at least twice on their three top-flight trips beforehand.
Worryingly, though, in two of the last three seasons (W1), the Gunners have suffered defeat in their final away league game, equaling the number of times they had lost in their previous 18 campaigns (W11 D5).
If you’re a fan of omens, Arteta’s lads boast the best away record after half-time leads (W8, D3) in the Premier League this season, highlighting the importance of opening the scoring.
Cooper faces the challenge of manoeuvring through Arsenal with yet another extensive list of injured players.
Scott McKenna, Neco Williams, Chris Wood, Gustavo Scarpa and Dean Henderson are all anticipated to be absent for the clash against the Gunners.
Omar Richard, Emmanuel Dennis, Jack Colback (head) and Giulian Biancome will likely stay on the sidelines too, leaving Cooper strapped for options.
Likewise, William Saliba, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny are in the treatment room and will likely be joined by Gabriel Martinelli, though Oleksandr Zinchenko should make the matchday squad.
Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal Potential Line-ups
Nottingham Forest (3-4-2-1): Keylor Navas; Joe Worrall, Felipe, Moussa Niakhate; Serge Aurier, Orel Mangala, Danilo, Renan Lodi; Morgan Gibbs-White, Ryan Yates; Taiwo Awoniyi.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Aaron Ramsdale; Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Magalhaes, Rob Holding, Ben White; Jorginho, Granit Xhaka; Leandro Trossard, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka; Gabriel Jesus.
We Say: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal won’t make it that easy for Manchester City to win the league title – we expect Odegaard, Jesus, Saka and co to step up their game and come away from Forest with a win, delaying the inevitable for one more day.
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