Arsenal start their defence of the F.A. Cup this afternoon as they travel to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest but they do so with Arsene Wenger serving the first of a three match touchline ban after comments he made about Mike Dean at the tail end of 2017.
Those comments drew the attention of the Football Association and they deemed that Arsene Wenger’s language and behaviour was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity, something that the Gunners boss would go on to admit.
That admittance has not only given him a three match touchline ban but it has also made him lighter in the pocket to the tune of £40k. Then again with the money that he is earning that is nothing but a small dent in his rather hefty looking bank balance.
Talk of referee’s aside Arsenal come into this game looking to divert their focus from the Premier League and onto winning a fourth edition of this competition in five seasons, this cup has become their preserve as of late and last season was no different when they foiled Antonio Conte’s hopes of doing the double.
And it was Arsene Wenger who also foiled Antonio Conte on Wednesday night after the two teams played out a pulsating draw at the Emirates. With just seconds remaining it looked as if Chelsea had turned the game around after going behind and looked set to win the game through Marcos Alonso’s late strike.
However there was time for one more twist in the tale and it was another Spanish international full back who found himself on the scoresheet, this time though it was Hector Bellerin as his well measured half volley from the edge of the area sailed into the net to give Arsenal a share of the points.
A share of the points that sees them now sit five behind Liverpool while sixth in the table, their hopes of finishing top four have diminished slightly over the festive period but they are still competing on three other fronts when it comes to silverware.
Not only do their start their F.A. Cup journey today but they also have a Carabao Cup Semi Final in midweek while their hopes of Europa League success restart next month when they face off against Swedish side Ostersunds who are managed by English coach Graham Potter.
Today thought it is Nottingham Forest who pose the opposition and they do so without a manager after sacking Mark Warburton last week. Gary Brazil takes charge today and he was also at the helm when he took his side to Elland Road on New Years Day as they held Leeds to a 0-0 draw.
The decision to sack Mark Warburton may well have been deemed harsh especially as this season’s league position is a marked improvement on the fact that they only managed to beat the drop to League One on the final day of the 2016/17 campaign.
But lying 14th is not deemed good enough and the former Rangers boss is now the former Rangers and Nottingham Forest boss. Gary Brazil who now takes caretaker charge of the club for the third time is focusing solely on today and looking to engineer an upset at the City Ground.
Unfortunately though there is no doubting Arsenal’s cup pedigree and although Forest will be up for this with the support of their own fans willing them on, I cannot see anything other than a win for the Gunners even if Arsene Wenger did not see it….from the touchline.