Morning all.

Yesterday’s FA Cup 3rd round threw up some interesting results. Newcastle Utd lost at home to Cambridge Utd, Burnley got beaten at home by Huddersfield Town and Reading were knocked out of the competition by Kidderminster! Both Everton and Southampton needed extra time to win their ties against lower division clubs. The best result of the day came at Boreham Wood though as the National League club beat League One AFC Wimbledon 2-0.

It’s Arsenal’s turn today and a tricky fixture it is too. Nottingham Forest are doing well in the Championship and are no doubt hoping to secure promotion to the Premier League although it’ll probably have to be via the playoffs seeing as they’re 15 points behind League leaders Bournemouth, 12 behind Blackburn. Since the transfer window opened, Forest have signed three players, Canada international Richie Laryea from Major League Soccer side Toronto FC, Aston Villa striker Keinan Davis and Steve Cook from Bournemouth.  

As said, there’s already been a few surprise results this weekend but that’s the glory of this competition. League form goes out the window as it’s a winner takes all fixture, especially for the lower League clubs who hope a place in the next round will see them drawn away to a Premier League club.

Steve Cooper is around the twentieth manager Forest have employed in the last ten years and even he hasn’t been in the hot seat for long. Whilst  Michael Cox writes that Cooper has turned around Forests’ season, his side have lost their last two League fixtures. Perspective though, any new manager needs time and recruitment if they’re going to succeed.

Enough of Nottingham Forest, Arsenal probably go into this game as favourites but I think that means nothing really. Away from home this season, Mikel Arteta’s teams have been up and down. We’ve seen really good performances against the likes of Leeds, Norwich and then West Brom in the League Cup, but awful ones at Goodison Park, Old Trafford, Anfield and The Etihad. Which Arsenal we see later today is anyone’s guess really.

Arsenal are without Gabriel as he’s suspended and I did read that Granit Xhaka is missing too. AMN has gone off on loan, hoping to make his debut against Juventus later today, so our midfield is going to be a bit of a mix and match. Sambi Lokonga is back in training so it looks like it’ll be him +1. Not an ideal situation at all and unless Xhaka returns a lot quicker than he can run, it’s going to be like this until Arsenal do something in this transfer window.

I think this month is huge for Arsenal. Right now we’re in the top four, the semi-final of the League Cup and we’re in the early rounds of the FA Cup. By the end of January, we could be out of the lot if Mikel Arteta and his players levels drop.

We could also finish the month knowing we’re heading to Wembley in February, bragging about doing the double over the noisy neighbours and be looking forwards to another FA Cup match.

Arsenal have been here before around this time of year and that’s why I think Mikel Arteta is right when he says no fixture is more important than another because they all really are as important as each other. Winning becomes a habit and even though Man City beat us in our last match, I still believe Arsenal won on the day. We had the best team in England, probably Europe, on the ropes for much of the game and that’s something to be proud of. Something to push this team on for the rest of the season and beyond.

I just hope Mikel Arteta and his team don’t go and cock it up against Nottingham Forest!

See you in the comments.