For the last six weeks Arsenal have been playing virtually one game every three days so our first team has been extremely fatigued, and we have collected a lot of injuries along the way while we struggle to force our way back into the Top Four.
But the FA Cup is a very important trophy for Arsene Wenger as Arsenal are the holders after winning the third FA Cup Final in just four seasons, but Le Prof acknowledges that the crucial Third Round ties can be the most difficult test on the way to the later stages. “From my personal experience in the FA Cup, and I think I have a lot, this is maybe the most difficult round,” he said.
“It’s always difficult to start well in the competition and when you play away against a Championship team – it’s always very intense and the Championship teams are ready to face you.
“For them, it’s a big challenge and you have to maintain your concentration coming out of a very loaded and congested period over Christmas. That’s never easy.”
On paper you would think that playing Forest would be an easyish task, considering they have won only one of their last 8 games in the Championship, but League form goes out of the window when it comes to the FA Cup, especially when Wenger is forced to play some second string players to help the First XI team regain some strength for the Top Four challenge.
Last season we played Preston, also in the second tier, and we struggled to beat them 2-1 with Olivier Giroud bagging the winner in the 89th minute. The year before was easier as we were at home to Sunderland, who were rock bottom of the Championship at the time, but even they were holding us to 1-1 until the last 20 minutes when we ended up winning 3-1.
As they say, there is no easy game in the FA Cup, so we can look forward to another exciting ride as we fight to defend our crown….