Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup, courtesy to bad defending as a mixed team line-up fails against manager-less Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal, for the first time under Arsene Wenger’s tenure, crashed out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round as they travelled to The City Ground to face Nottingham Forest. The hosts attacked the Gunners in the weakest area possible and later a contentious penalty was decisive in knocking the FA Cup holders out of the competition.
Arsene Wenger, as expected made wholesome changes to his starting line-up, after a hectic festive period and the rising injury count of first-team regulars. Captain Per Mertesacker was given a rare nod to lead the side, while overall the team was a mix of youth and experienced stars, and they were expected to brush past the Championship side with ease. But that wasn’t the case.
Arsenal started out on their toes and was put to the sword by the Nottingham Forest attackers as they were constantly looking for space to exploit Per Mertesacker, for his perceived lack of space. The plan worked out well, as Forest went ahead in the 19th minute through American defender Eric Lichaj.
Arsenal almost immediately responded in the 22nd minute as captain Mertesacker bundled home from the scramble created after a Theo Walcott free-kick. Eric Lichaj was the hero of the first half as he restored Palace’s lead going into the break.
In the second half, Rob Holding upended Matty Cash, which resulted in a penalty for the hosts. Ben Brereton sent David Ospina the wrong way to help Forest take a two goal lead in the 64th minute. Danny Welbeck pulled one back in the 79th minute as the Gunners garnered some hope.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 7, 2018
Joe Worall was then sent off for the host in the 84th minute for a tackle, but Forest took an unassailable lead in the 85th, courtesy another penalty, this time scored by Keiran Dowell.
The penalty decision all but ended any hopes of an Arsenal comeback and ensured for the first time since Sheffield United defeated the Gunners in a replay in January 1996, that Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup in the third round. Here’s how the Arsenal players were rated during their FA Cup third round tie.
David Ospina – 6/10
Despite shipping in four goals, Ospina made some good saves in the first half. Could do nothing about the penalties as well as the opener and the second goal.
Rob Holding – 4/10
Struggled throughout, as Forest attackers ran riot. Could not deal with the pace and intensity of their attack.
Per Mertesacker – 4/10
Mertesacker equalises for Arsenal. 1-1 pic.twitter.com/JXanch5k36
— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) January 7, 2018
The Gunners’ captain did score an important equaliser, but that does not cover the defensive fatalities of the German. Mertesacker was exploited for his lack of space, as he was unable to cope up with Forest attackers running at him.
Matthew Debuchy – 4/10
Debuchy was decent at times going forward, but overall, like the other centre-halves, the Frenchman was unable to deal with the pace and intensity of the Nottingham Forest attackers.
Reiss Nelson – 6.5/10
The youngster was constantly trying to make something happen. Nelson attacked with intent and was one of the few bright spots in a miserable Arsenal performance.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 5.5-10
Like Nelson, Maitland-Niles tried to make things happen. Attacked decently, but hardly effective when it mattered.
Joe Willock – 4/10
His lack of experience against some robust teams showed on the pitch. Willock was ran all over the place and was rendered completely ineffective at times.
Mohammed Elneny – 4/10
Most times, Elneny is composed in midfield, but against Forest, he showed exactly why he cannot control the Arsenal midfield on his own. The Egyptian played without any influence on either end of the pitch.
Alex Iwobi – 3.5/10
No influence at all from the Nigeria international. This performance added more misery to his already dreadful form of late.
Danny Welbeck – 4/10
Welbeck capitalises on a huge error by the Forest GK. 3-2 pic.twitter.com/NLuC56E0ed
— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) January 7, 2018
A really poor display from the Arsenal striker was only covered by the goal scored late on. No spark in attack or in creating something for the team.
Theo Walcott – 3.5/10
Showed exactly why he has failed to start a single Premier League game this season. It’s no surprise the out of sorts winger is linked with a move away from the Emirates.
Eddie Nketiah – 4.5/10
Could have scored upon he came on after creating a chance for himself, but his effort was saved by Smith.
Chuba Akpom – 4/10
Thrown in too late in the game to salvage something out of it. Too late to do something.