Connect in the back of the net

Arsenal travel to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night for their third-round English Football League Cup fixture as they look to capitalise on the momentum they have built in the wake of being undefeated in five consecutive games.

Although the mood around the Emirates Stadium camp is not so upbeat as it should be given their recent results, the Gunners should be heading into this game confident of edging past Nottingham Forest.

Here are the five burning questions ahead of the midweek clash.


Will Olivier Giroud be handed his first start?

With Olivier Giroud starting from the bench against Paris Saint-Germain, observers expected him to make the starting line-up against Hull City last Saturday.

However, thanks to a toe injury, he failed to make even the bench at KCOM Stadium. As the injury is said to be a minor one, he should be vying for a place on the teamsheet, against Forest.

However, Arsene Wenger should also look at easing summer arrival Lucas Perez, who looked a fish out of water on his debut against Southampton, into the team.

Accordingly, he may choose to delay Giroud’s first start of the 2016/17 season, especially with the Gunners playing host to local rivals and title contenders Chelsea only three days later.


Will the young players be handed starts?

The Arsenal manager said earlier this month that he had a team of ‘men’ for the first time in many years.

However, the experience of his squad may turn out to be a hindrance to the development of young players this season.

Youngsters such as Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chuba Akpom and Gedion Zelalem should be hoping to start against Forest, but with first teamers such as Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already in need of first-team minutes to gain a foothold, their hopes of mustering a start for the senior side will likely be shattered.


Can David Ospina repeat his heroics?

Many pundits, most notably Gary Linekar, laughed at Wenger’s decision to snub veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech in favour of starting David Ospina against PSG, but the Colombian shot-stopper made his doubters eat humble pie, courtesy of a string of fabulous saves.

Should he be able to replicate his Man of the Match performance at City Ground on Tuesday night, Cech’s place in the starting line-up will be in jeopardy.


Will Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all start?

Alex Iwobi has been producing stunning displays, but consistency has been an issue.

Theo Walcott has shown steady improvement, but he looks as though he may need more minutes to be at his best again.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on the other hand, has again failed to build on his incredible pre-season run as he now finds himself at the bottom of the pecking order.

All three wingers need playing time, but who gets a start remains to be seen.


How big a threat is Nottingham Forest?

The Tricky Trees sit atop the bottom half of the Championship table with three wins in eight games, and they are heading into the EFL Cup clash at the back of two draws and a 2-1 loss to Norwich City.

Manager Philippe Montanier, however, seems to have a plan in store despite his vigorous rotation policy seeming rather untried from the outside.

Arsenal have a few familiar faces in the Forest roster in the form of former Gunners Nicklas Bendtner and Henri Lansbury, and Armand Traore, who will be looking to cause an upset.

Nottingham Forest, on their day, can be a nagging opponent, especially with Oliver Burke and Apostolos Vellios being regular goal threats.


Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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