Nottingham Forest head into their Carabao Cup fixture against Arsenal tomorrow night off the back of a well fought 1-0 victory over Barnsley on Saturday, in which Ben Watson’s 56th minute goal secured all three points for Sabri Lamouchi’s side.
The result continues strong run of form with the City Ground outfit now unbeaten in their last five league games, which has featured impressive away victories over fellow playoff hopefuls Swansea City and strong promotion contenders Fulham.
On the flip side, Arsenal also head into this cup tie in relatively strong form, with the Gunners having huffed and puffed their way to 3-2 victory against Aston Villa last weekend after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off for a reckless challenge on Villa’s Neil Taylor just before half time.
That result made it four in a row unbeaten in all competitions for the Gunners as they also picked up an impressive midweek win against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League last Thursday. Unai Emery will be looking for a repeat performance in tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup tie against Forest at the Emirates.
Given Arsenal’s defensive struggles this season, we took a look at THREE Arsenal flaws that Nottingham Forest can look to exploit tomorrow night….
Defending of set pieces
Arsenal have displayed a big weakness when it comes to defending set pieces this season, with the Gunners having looked vulnerable when defending against free kicks from wide areas against Burnley, and this could be something that Forest look to target in particular because of the aerial presence provided by Lewis Grabban up front.
Forest should look to deliver set pieces around Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno (should he play) at every opportunity as he has been poor at catching crosses this season, whilst showing a tendency to lack concentration at key moments during games this term.
Prone to individual errors
As was seen in their recent game against Watford, Arsenal are extremely prone to committing individual errors during games, as was seen by David Luiz’s reckless challenge in the penalty area to gift Watford an equaliser and Sokratis Papastathopoulos giving the ball away within his own area to allow Tom Cleverley to score Watford’s first goal of the game.
Forest should look to press up high on the Arsenal defence, particularly with Arsenal full-back Ainsley Maitland Niles admitting that they tried to play out from the back too often against Watford.
By putting pressure on the Arsenal defence, Forest possess the players to force defenders into committing errors, particularly with the likes of Joe Lolley and Joao Carvalho likely to be starting against the Gunners.
Weak at protecting the lead
Forest should aim to attack the Gunners through the middle of the field if they go behind in the game, particularly with Arsenal also showing a high tendency this season to commit fouls in dangerous areas of the field.
This is an area that players such as Joe Lolley and Tiago Silva can exploit by dribbling with the ball in the final third of the pitch, leading to opportunities from which Forest could take advantage of direct free kick opportunities on the edge of the area.