Forest Preview: Redemption, Rehabilitation & Revenge

The Carabao Cup returns for its’ short run in the Arsenal season and Nottingham Forest are the understudies hoping to be stars, if only for one night.

Unai Emery will shuffle his pack given we only played 48 hours ago. The gap between the two games is so short that even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will get a rest.

It’s fair to question the relevance of the competition. Certainly, if UEFA gets their way, the League Cup as far as the Premier League clubs are concerned is toast. I have misgivings about both the structure UEFA and ECA propose but I have no love for the League Cup.

In years gone by, the competition meant something. When Ken went up and all that; it was a great afternoon at Wembley. It hurt twelve months later, as a cup final defeat should, even one which was relatively self-inflicted.

Now, the Carabao Cup barely rates a shrug of the shoulders. Years of neglect with even mediocre sides fielding second-string XIs signals the need for the cord to be cut. This badly patched-up boat must be freed of its’ riverbank moorings to allow it to drift into oblivion.

That said, tonight’s fixture serves a purpose. Bellerin, Tierney and Holding should all feature; the defence looks better already.

Dino Mavropanos, held in reserve, to work his way back into contention; time is on his side, to some extent, but given how poor Luiz and Sokratis’ performances have been this season, the younger Greek may think he is in contention for a run in the first-team proper at some point.

This is the positive – the one positive – about the League Cup. The warning signs for its’ future are there, however; France is ditching its’ equivalent. Inexorably, the top leagues are moving away from League Cups.

A Redemption Song?

As well as physical recuperation, reputations receive rehabilitation in good performances. Mesut Ozil will be hoping for that. From the World Cup starting line-up for his country to a place in the second XI at club level in fifteen months is a spectacular fall from grace.

Seventy-one minutes this season isn’t entirely his fault but even when the side is underperforming, Mesut isn’t considered an option. He didn’t even warrant mention post-match on Sunday.

The German needs a significant run of good form to bolster his faltering standing in the game. His next contract is going to fall far short of the mega-bucks he is earning now. “Earning” is used in a purely contractual sense. Nothing we’ve seen on the pitch warranted that kind of deal for some time.

Are we beyond that redemptive stage for Ozil already?

It comes down, in part, to pride, both personal and professional. Is Mesut a lamb or a fighter as far as his career is concerned? It’s obvious Emery doesn’t fancy him as a player, to use the footballing vernacular. It’s fight or flight for him; which will he choose?

Tonight, however, if selected, he needs to be a leader, to deliver. The Ozil of 2010 in South Africa had that in abundance as he tore England apart. Somewhere inside that light must still be flickering, surely? If not, why bother at all?

I wonder how that influences young players? Do they see him giving his all in training, someone to admire in fighting for his place or someone coasting, someone whose technique is unquestionable but whose desire is definitely just that.

Walk in the Park?

Expecting Forest to rollover is mad. The first XI is on a roll, up to fifth in the promotion race in the Championship and looking like delivering on the promise everyone thought they had for years. Will they want to take a break from that and rest key players?

I’m pretty confident that our younger players, mixed with experience, can stand toe-to-toe and dance a little better. Not cockily confident but we’ve seen enough down the years to know the sort of team we’ll field can stand their ground.

And get swallowed by it, let’s not forget. We’ve lost to teams we should have beaten and others we had no right to do so. It’s hit and miss but with a trip to Stoke on Friday night, I’m guessing Forest will make a few changes.

I’d expect our line-up to be something like;

Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Torreira, Ozil, Willock; Nelson, John-Jules, Martinelli

Changes galore on the hour mark with Chambers on for Bellerin and Mavropanos for Tierney, reverting to a back three, with Chambers in the middle of the park alongside Torreira.

I don’t know if that will happen. Unai, if nothing else, is a bit unpredictable in that sense.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

68 thoughts on “Forest Preview: Redemption, Rehabilitation & Revenge

  1. andy1886 says:

    It’s going to be great to see our alternative defensive options at some point, not sure though if all three start in the same game. Certainly Holding, not sure about our full backs though. Maybe they will get a run out but not 90 minutes.

    However the real question on the country’s lips is…………will Unai manage to shoe horn Xhaka into the side again??

  2. Dukey says:

    I had my money on Jonny winning the boom race today. Must be busy with the Belfast sink.

    How about gundozi for capatain?

  3. Ras says:

    Top post YW . Yes its clear that Emery and Oil don’t see ‘Eye to Eye’. Could Ozil be hoping that Emery will be gone before him?It will unfold no doubt.

    Its interesting when you look at the personnel that makes up the Arsenal midfield. Amongst the assembled ranks We don’t possess a player(s) with defensive mind of say Viera, Gilberto or Coquelin . There was no ambiguity in their roles for the Team.

    When you look at whom We deploy in those berths. Xhaka’s first instinct is not truly about defending. Its not his primary tenet. The same goes for Guendozi and Ceballos. These both want to run with the ball. They are players whom demand the ball. Ceballos has skill undoubtedly but he’s to tick tacky. He wants to many touches facilitate the play.

    When you look at Chambers per say he’s far more naturally defensive minded than any of the others mentioned. I think he can do a better job than Xhaka. There is far more natural defensive nous to the Game of Chambers than you could ever hope to get from Xhaka in a thousand years.

    Is anybody truly surprised that the last 3 matches resemble something from the NBA? Personally no.

    We have 2 Wing backs Sead and AMN whom are asked to play as right and left back. Lets be brutally honest none of them are “true right or left backs”. AMN stated that last week. Chambers can play right back for whatever reason Emery does not pick him.

    This team currently sucks when it is not in possession of the ball. Emery is failing to pick a midfield that has the physicality, the legs, the technical and defensive nouse to simply compete. Villa a newly promoted side ran through the midfield at will. On another day we could have well lost that game. We did not lose I hear some say and yes thats true but can anyone truly see what Emery is trying to do?

    Its to top heavy, lop sided.

    The Major Clubs ,Teams when scouting and buying players look at a number of things. Psychological profiling of players is “de rigeur ” today. Clubs look at a number of things when signing a player.

    A quick look at Klopp and Liverpool you see he has amassed a number of players – that give him options in midfield. Keita, Fabinho. Ox, Henderson, Winaldjum, Milner etc .

  4. jonnygunner says:

    I had my money on Jonny winning the boom race today.Must be busy with the Belfast sink.

    How about gundozi for capatain?

    I was trying to ring you to give you the heads up Dukey 🤓

  5. Pete the Thirst says:

    The League Cup has definitely slipped down the pecking order.

    I remember being so disappointed at Wembley in 88 when Gus Caesar dropped his clanger.

    At that point thanks to our Scouse friends there was no Europe, so the League Cup was much more important.

    What about making it an early season event with a final in January including Scottish clubs for a bit of fun?

  6. C says:

    Tim Shearwood needs to pipe down a bit, guess he missed the bit about Pepe being 9 for 9 last season on penalties.

  7. C says:

    That looks the team I would start Yogi. Torriera would have plenty of time to recover for Manure.

  8. Spike says:

    It definitely wont be easy, but it will be great if the 4 returning defenders get some game time. Other than that, I’m not confident we will get a result, unless Forest play a weakened team!

    How sad is that?

    Up The Arse!

  9. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    Arsene was on the forefront of dropping the league cup to its current lowly status when he decided to use the Carling cup to showcase our elite academy talent early during the project youth era. Back then the quality and depth of our academy talent was unrivaled in world football we all believed they would mature together and Arsene was on the verge of changing world football and making the big money transfer market obsolete and dominating world football with a virtual conveyor belt of world class talent coming thru our academy. Every other club in the world wanted to imitate what Arsene was doing. I am more skeptical then most but I even believed the hype back then. Obviously that did not work out the way we had hoped and I think we all realize just how unrealistic those expectations were.

    I like your line up and I think we will win.

  10. Bill says:


    Obviously none of us really know what is going on in Mesut Ozil’s mind however, I think the preponderance of evidence suggests that revitalizing his playing career is not a high priority. If the rumors are true he could have gone to PSG on loan last January and he refused. He will be age 32 when this contract is finished and its very clear that he is not going to get another big deal so he does not have the next contract to motivate him and he does not have his spot on Germany’s national team to play for. He has won all of the biggest trophies and now is playing for a team whose ceiling is going deep in the Europa league or FA cup. He made hundreds of millions of dollars in wages and endorsements and probably can make hundreds of millions more after he retires. He has won world wide recognition and has a huge world wide fan club. There is nothing left for him to prove and I doubt that he has anything from a footballing standpoint that can motivate him.

  11. Dukey says:

    Tim Shearwood needs to pipe down a bit, guess he missed the bit about Pepe being 9 for 9 last season on penalties.

    Old Pepe was the joint highest penalty scorer in Europe last season!

    On gunnerdozi , when Auba scored our winner v villa I saw him run off in a different direction to everyone else and thought where the feck is he going! Turns out he ran over to give John Terry a bit of verbal. I say make him captain right now.

  12. Bill says:

    Ozil was arguably the most technicality talented players in the world but when we watch him play now it’s clear that he is no longer that same player. His ability to influence the game in the attacking 1/3 and his ability to visualize and execute the final pass has faded. Part of that may be a lack of motivation but clearly the ability is not at the same level

  13. Spike says:


    Geezer! No one deserves being given shit more than that odious racist twat!

  14. Blue Yonder says:

    “I wonder how that influences young players? Do they see him giving his all in training, someone to admire in fighting for his place or someone coasting, someone whose technique is unquestionable but whose desire is definitely just that.”

    Great article and, in response to your query, Yogi, I would like to think the “young guns” would see that as a cautionary tale and a path best avoided. I would also like to think that one or two of the vets would also make that clear to them. Wishful thinking, perhaps.
    I wonder whether, in later years, Ozil will rue his choices taken and wonder what level he could have achieved. It might not be too late, if someone were to tighten the bolt in his neck. But Igor is nowhere to be found.

  15. C says:


    Yup he sure was, guess ol Timmy should do some research before he starts talking.

    Yea saw that, still would take Aubameyang and Lacazette as Captains but gotta love Guendouzi.

  16. thrillbo says:

    Hello all, good chatter today and good luck to the boys. will try to sneak some streams in at work or something. The team is still in that 2nd tier, we have some top class talent but are a clear step below pool & city. The references to NBA matches are relevant, and this trend is happening in many sports. The organizations are promoting offense, scoring, faster play, call a foul with slightest touch, flopping/diving etc. The sad thing is, the teams winning championships can play both the modern fast game, but they can also shutdown shop and play old school defense. We are just not there.

  17. Adam Singh says:

    I think maybe saka and nelson will start maybe. At this age the more game time the better.

  18. C says:


    Subs: Macey, Bellerin, Bola, Burton, Ceball, Saka, Balogun

  19. Spike says:


    Close to what I was expecting, although I thought Bellerin might start. I guess starting three players in defence whove not played competitive football would be a tad risky!

    Come on The Araenal!!

  20. Las says:

    I was disappointed (you can guess) when we lost the EFL Cup Final against Birmingham in 2010-2011. And then we fell out of the CL against Barca (though Bendtner had his chance in the last minute) and that miserable run in the PL… finished 4th. I had high hopes for us that season though.
    However bad it was, right now I wish we could be as close/far to/from the top then than.
    and the team news:
    Martinez; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Willock, Torreira; Nelson, Ozil, Smith Rowe; Martinelli
    You see no Xhaka 🙂 whatever that means

  21. Las says:

    It will be interesting to see this crop of youngsters. And if Özil could pull upp some old trick that would be good to watch. I’m not positive on this Özil thing though but can’t help wishful thinking.

  22. C says:


    Not sure avout that, we play on Monday which is basically a week until we play again.

  23. C says:

    Liking what I am seeing of Tierney so far.

  24. C says:

    Never want to see this, Smith-Rowe down and the stretcher called.

    Just saw Gabriel’s goal again and that is quite a finish.

  25. Adam Singh says:

    Not watching the game. How’s the back four looking. Better than Sunday?

  26. Noon Gunner says:

    Adam Singh,

    Very little tested by Forest thus far, Adam. But they’ve handled everything coming at them without blunder and as C says, Tierney is looking very sharp. I also think Chambers is showing good game reading – he’s made a number of smart interceptions. And having Torreira as DM is such a relief!

  27. Noon Gunner says:

    Adam Singh,

    Oh, and Rob H is looking chilled, and we’ve had Good Mustafi on the pitch tonight.

  28. Noon Gunner says:

    Jo Willock is really making the most of being given his CM role – he looks to me to have a magisterial eye for positioning, with the result that he shows constantly for the ball all over the midfield, and his distribution is excellent. Ozil low-key but very sharp as soon as he gets the ball – some lovely through passes.

  29. Noon Gunner says:

    First Saka, then Nelson rip down the left, beat their defender and make sublime crosses, both just missed in the 6 yd box….then ROB HOLDING SCORES!!!! STorybook stuff!

  30. Adam Singh says:

    Noon Gunner,

    Good to hear. Holding with a goal as well. Surely bel, chambers, holding and tierney is the way forward.

  31. Las says:

    Bellerin just came in gave an assist to Willock. Fairy tale stuff

  32. Noon Gunner says:

    Youngsters Rampant now!!! Bellerin serves up for Willock. This could turn out to be a watershed game in terms of squad development…assuming Unai gets with the emerging programme.

  33. Noon Gunner says:

    Chambers – now comfortable as LB to allow Hector on – has had an excellent game. Just showing again some neat ball skills to get out of trouble.

  34. Las says:

    It was a strange sub, Bellerinn for Kieran and Chambers moved to LB, but he gave an assist immediately so why not.

  35. consolsbob says:

    And the spuds lose to Colchester!

  36. Noon Gunner says:

    My MoM: Chambers…followed by a big bunch of close seconds.

  37. C says:

    Overall, a good even: top win with out returning players looking bright and our youngsters showing their hunger!!!!

    O did I mention Spuds lost to 10th place in the 4th tier of English futbol Colchester

  38. Noon Gunner says:

    Goal of the night – that last curling beauty from Martinelli!!!!

  39. C says:


    The sub made sense, didn’t want to give Tierney 90 mins, wanted to get Bellerin some match time and since they have shown very little attacking intent, playing Chambers at LB is fine.

  40. consolsbob says:


    Well, I did…. 6 minutes before you.

    Stick to the tactics, C!

  41. C says:

    The most important thing for me is how every player that has played, looks like they have played with the others. How often have we watched matches like this where they all look like they are strangers?

  42. Las says:

    Great game, but Forest wasn’t a tough one. But the youngsters done very well. And it was great to see that nobody did a Mustafi even himself.
    See you

  43. Noon Gunner says:

    Your lonely but very happy commentator is now signing off…to await reading the underlying truth of what really happened from the noble pen of YW.

  44. Dukey says:

    Martenelli . could be the new bendtner!

  45. nicky says:

    Glad to see that finally our final de facto back four seems to be taking shape.
    I wonder who Emery will choose from Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Luiz and Tierney this coming Monday?

  46. C says:

    Absolutely brilliant by Gooners at the Emirates who gave Bellerin and Tienery a standing ovation when Bellerin came on and Tierney went off.

  47. C says:

    I know it was just Forest but they were in form and the likes of Holding, Gabriel, Nelson and all the players looked like they had a point to prove. Even Mustafi lhad a 2nd good performance and clean sheet, with the Luiz, Sokaritis and Xhaka debacle….I wouldn’t mind seeing Holding, Mustafi and Torriera against Manure.

  48. Papa Bear says:

    Tempted to give the kid Martinelli a starter while Laca recovered.

    Chambers deserved a spot and Holding is our best CB right now. Although seems might not the best pair CBs, Holding and Chambers combo deserved a chance rather than the accident waiting to happen of Luiz Sok and Moostafi.

    Torreira must sit tight in the deep midfield baseline to protect the back 4, that’s his best position and natural abilities, so Emery must not screwed Torreira’s best by over tinkering his idiocy.

    Ceballos should stay up in advanced role #10 and ordered not to go deep freuently to retrieve the ball as we’ve seen that we always missed that #10 linkage transtion from defend to attack.

    So the first 11 based on the current performance IMO of 4-2-3-1 formation should be:


    Martinelli Ceballos Pepe

    Guendouzi Torreira

    Tierney Holding Chambers Bellerin


    But hey Dick Emery is the coach, I am sure he will go back to his brainfart and instill his love affair with Xhaka the clown for the next game.

  49. Spike says:


    We can only hope and dream he becomes that good…

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