Some people will say that it was the FA Cup at its very best – Arsenal fans will say it was nothing short of a farce, as the Gunners were dumped out of the FA Cup in the third round by managerless, Championship side, Nottingham Forest.
An Eric Lichaj double, including a wonder strike for his second, put Forest 2-1 up at half-time, following Per Mertesacker’s equaliser. Though, it got worst for a second string Arsenal side, as Rob Holding gave away a second half penalty, which was converted by 18-year-old, Ben Brereton, to give the home side a two goal cushion, with just over twenty-five minutes remaining.
Danny Welbeck pulled another one back for the Gunners, before Forest had another chance from the spot to extend their lead, after Mat Debuchy brought down former Arsenal player, Armand Traore. Kieran Dowell controversially put the ball past David Ospina, despite Arsenal’s claims of a ‘double kick’. Forest were even reduced to ten men late on, as Joe Worrall received his marching orders, but the Championship side held on in a compelling cup tie. Here are the Arsenal player ratings from a shocking day in Nottinghamshire…
David Ospina – 5 – Probably Arsenal’s man of the match, as the Columbian made a string of top saves to keep Forest at bay in the first half. Couldn’t get anywhere near both penalties, as Arsenal’s embarrassing spot kick, keeper record continues.
Mat Debuchy – 3 – An embarrassing display from the Frenchman, who’s loyalty and interest towards the club was for all to see. A brainless tackle on Traore which led to Forest’s second penalty, just about summed his afternoon up. Surely can’t be at the club for much longer?
Per Mertesacker – 3 – Was a mess at the back for Arsenal all day, and the German will be glad to see the back of Forest wizkid, Brereton, as he ran the Arsenal captain ragged all afternoon. Took his goal well, the only highlight though for Mertesacker, in what could have been his last game in a red and white shirt.
Rob Holding – 2 – Possibly the worst game the young defender has had in an Arsenal shirt. Like with Mertesacker, Holding was bullied by Brereton all game, and his performance was summed up by the penalty he gave away, which put Forest 3-1 up at the time. A loan move this window a good option?
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 5 – A small positive, from a pretty disastrous day for Arsenal. Very bright going forwards in the first half, and composed at the back under pressure too, as he has shown already. Disappeared in the second half though.
Alex Iwobi – 2 – Another poor performance from a player who is lacking confidence massively. Hardly impacted the game, in what was a chance for the Nigerian to shine and get himself back in to Wenger’s first team plans. Again, another one who looks like they could do with a spell away from the club.
Mohammed Elneny – 3 – Normally a very consistent performer for the club when called on, but very much out of sorts today like the rest of the team. Couldn’t influence the game in the middle of the park at all, was caught several times too on the counter by Forest.
Joe Willock – 3 – Like with Elneny, struggled big time. Showed glimpses of his potential during the first half, as Arsenal looked to dominate, but come the second half, was really isolated as Forest trampled all over Arsenal’s inexperienced youngsters. Was hauled off after Forest’s third.
Reiss Nelson – 5 – Another small bright spark from an awful day at the City Ground. Always wanted to run at that Forest defence whenever on the ball. Very influential in the first half, but hardly saw any of him in the second half, as Arsenal collapsed.
Theo Walcott – 2 – Surely will be off during this transfer window? Just lacked so much confidence all afternoon. Never wanted to take on his man, where a Walcott of about 5 years ago would of relished getting at that Forest defence today. Looks very much like the end of an era for Theo at Arsenal.
Danny Welbeck – 3 – Was stranded for good, quality service all game. Could hardly get involved, as the England man cut a lonely figure up top for the Gunners. When given a chance, he took it late on to drag Arsenal back in to the cup, but it wasn’t for long…
Eddie Nketiah – 3 – Was thrown on for Joe Willock, after Forest’s third. Had a massive chance, when put clear soon after just coming on, but shot lacked any conviction.
Chuba Akpom – n/a – Came on for the final few minutes when the game and tie was lost for the Gunners.