London - Arsenal begin their defence of the FA Cup with a fascinating third-round encounter against former winners Nottingham Forest at City Ground in Nottinghamshire, England, on Sunday.
The Gunners have won three of the last four editions of the tournament, with Wembley victories over Hull City, Aston Villa and Chelsea. That trio of cups has not been able to quench the thirst of fans hoping to see their team challenge for the Premier League title.
But with Arsène Wenger’s side sixth in the standings, another cup success may be the best they can hope for during this campaign.
Despite their league woes, Arsenal have gone undefeated in their past seven matches in the league, or nine in all competitions. Most recently, they have been held to back-to-back draws and drew 2-2 with Chelsea in a pulsating encounter on Wednesday.
Forest, meanwhile, have been struggling in the championship. Five matches without a win have left them 14th in the standings, and without a manager since Mark Warburton was sacked on New Year’s Eve following a defeat to rock bottom Sunderland.
Forest are previous winners of the cup, the first being all the way back in 1898; the most recent in 1959. They lost to Tottenham in the final in 1991.
Earlier on Sunday, Tottenham will take on League One side Wimbledon at Wembley Stadium, looking to make it four wins on the trot.
Spurs have won their past three against Burnley, Southampton and Swansea City and have won five of their past six games. The 4-1 humbling at the hands of Manchester City was their only negative result in recent weeks.
Spurs were dumped out of the competition by Chelsea last season, but generally make light work of their lower-league opponents, meaning this is likely to be the Dons’ first and final visit to Wembley this season.
Shadow of defeat
Wimbledon have been struggling over in League One, where they sit in the relegation places due, in part, to a lack of firepower. They won their most recent match 2-0 against Southend United, but a recent 4-0 defeat to Wigan is more in line with what they can expect against Harry Kane and company.
Elsewhere in England, West Ham will begin their cup campaign away to Shrewsbury Town.
The Hammers are currently fighting off relegation in the Premier League. Three wins in their past six games have given the Hammers a timely boost and manager David Moyes will be determined not to let that good feeling wither in the shadow of defeat.
However, as the Shrews sit second in the League One standings and are undefeated in their last eight matches, they could prove troublesome for Moyes’ side.
That kind of form has them sitting just two points behind league leaders Wigan Athletic, but raises the question of whether they should view the cup competitions as a welcome chance to test their mettle against superior sides or if they’ll just be a distraction from their league campaign and the promotion that is on offer. – TEAMtalk Media