Wenger selected Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding for Sunday's FA Cup third round clash against Nottingham Forest with Calum Chambers, the manager's only other defensive option rested, but that starting back-three endured a woeful afternoon at the City Ground with Debuchy and Holding both giving away penalties in a 4-2 defeat.
They had 21 shots to just eight from Arsenal, yet the tie remains on a knife-edge heading into the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on January 24.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Nicholas said: "It was cracking 2-2 draw at the Emirates and Arsene Wenger has to pick a strong team here after making so many changes in the FA Cup, but so will Antonio Conte, which makes Chelsea favourites".
Chelsea are now in third place in the Premier League table as they look to try and get closer to leaders Manchester City.
One of the key figures of the London derby over the years, Arsene Wenger will not be seen in the sidelines as the French tactician has received a touchline ban for his antics after the club's 1-1 draw against West Brom on December 31.
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Jack Wilshere has picked up a fresh injury concern after limping off against Chelsea on Wednesday.
Before those attempts, Wilshere injured his leg blocking a firmly struck cross from Moses and an impressive outing as Arsenal captain was curtailed when he limped off to make way for Mohamed Elneny before the hour.
Alex Iwobi was selected despite Wenger saying he could be fined for reportedly partying until the early hours of Saturday morning and the Arsenal winger nearly repaid his manager's faith with a drive that Courtois pushed away. The former Everton midfielder continues to recover from hamstring surgery.
Chelsea were piecing together their most convincing spell of pressure, but they couldn't find the finishing touch as Morata's powerful effort was well saved by Ospina.
A thunderous Moses volley was blocked from harm's way by Shkodran Mustafi in the 66th minute, right before Sanchez came on for Lacazette to try to spark Arsenal's attack to life.