Nottingham Forest v ArsenalSunday, January 9, 2022Kick Off: 5.15pmArsenal may win…. Not compulsory….
Nottingham Forest host Arsenal in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday, in what will be their first outing of 2022.
Steve Cooper’s men have not played since December 30, when they lost 1-0 at home to Huddersfield Town, as Monday’s clash with Barnsley was postponed.
Injuries and coronavirus cases meant the Reds did not have the required number of players available to fulfil that fixture, under English Football League rules.
Meanwhile, the Gunners – like many teams – have had their own issues with Covid-19 in recent weeks.
Here’s a look at the state of play ahead of the weekend.
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At the moment, there is nothing to suggest the game is in doubt.
Head coach Cooper is due to hold his pre-match press conference on Friday, and the club have advertised ticket details for the cup tie.
When they announced the postponement of the match with the Tykes, Forest said: “The Reds’ next fixture is the Emirates FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Arsenal at the City Ground next Sunday, 9th January, with a 5.10pm kick-off.
“That fixture remains on. Should the situation change, supporters will be advised immediately through official club channels.”
The Reds have also reminded supporters: “To enter the City Ground, in addition to a match ticket, supporters will need to provide one of the following:- DIGITAL NHS COVID PASS (preferred), or PAPER NHS COVID PASS, or NEGATIVE COVID TEST (evidence of a negative COVID test within 48 hours of kick-off).
“Entry to the stadium is dependent on the supporter being fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved vaccine, or, providing a negative COVID test.
“Supporters from outside the UK can use an equivalent pass to the NHS COVID pass issued in their own country as evidence of vaccinations.”
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Forest said: “The club applied to the EFL for the fixture to be postponed due to a combination of injuries and positive COVID-19 tests resulting in less than the minimum numbers of players available to fulfil the fixture under EFL rules. This is the first Forest fixture that has been postponed due to the pandemic.”
EFL rules state clubs will be expected to fulfil a fixture where they have 14 players, including a goalkeeper, available from their registered squad list.
Under-21 players not on the 25-man list but who have played at least one league game count towards that tally, but those who have not featured in the league do not.
Cooper had said after his team’s defeat to the Terriers: “There’s a lot of players out injured and covid has been riddled in the club now for a little while. It’s been a tough couple of weeks, in terms of dealing with it.”
Asked if that match had come close to potentially being called off, he said: “It’s not a question I can answer. It’s for above me.”
Since then, the Reds have added players, in January signings Keinan Davis and Steve Cook, and are closing in on Richie Laryea.
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What do the FA say about the competition?
The 2021/22 FA Cup rules do not include a threshold of the number of available players required to fulfil a fixture.
They say: “If a club may not be able to compete in a match on the date scheduled for the match for reasons due to COVID-19 (including but not limited to on the basis that a significant number of its players are self-isolating), it must inform The Association as soon as it becomes aware of the relevant circumstances.”
There will be no replays in the third round of the competition, though. If it finishes as a stalemate between Forest and Arsenal after 90 minutes, an extra 30 minutes will be played to settle the tie.
The FA have said: “This exceptional decision was approved by the FA Board on Friday 17 December and has been taken in the wider interest of English football to alleviate the possibility of fixture congestion following several postponements in recent days and continued uncertainty ahead due to COVID-19.”
The Gunners have recently had coronavirus cases within their camp.
Boss Mikel Arteta missed Saturday’s defeat to Manchester City after catching the virus for the second time.
He was due to return for the scheduled Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool, which should have taken place tonight (Thursday, January 6). However, that game was postponed due to an outbreak at the Merseyside club.
Striker Eddie Nketiah also missed the weekend’s fixture due to testing positive, while the club confirmed defender Calum Chambers had contracted the virus ahead of their Carabao Cup quarter-final with Sunderland on December 21.
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