Arsenal’s defence of the FA Cup fell at the first hurdle as they lost 4-2 to Championship side, Nottingham Forest.
Matchday: Team News – Player Ratings – Match Highlights
Match: Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
Stadium: The City Ground
Kick-Off (GMT): Sun 07 Jan 16:00
Arsenal’s FA Cup defence started off with a classic tie away at the championship side, Nottingham Forest. It was everything people expect from this sort of fixture with the home side really going for the win but the Premier League side showing more quality moving forward.
However, it was Forest who took the lead. A free-kick was whipped in from out wide right into the face of David Ospina who struggled as the ball flew straight onto the head of Eric Lichaj who made it 1-0.
The Gunners hit back moments later with a set piece of their own. A simple corner fell straight to the head of Per Mertesacker who directed his effort low to equalise.
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But the excitement of the first-half wasn’t over. The Gunners started to see more of the ball but the visitors again hit back. The Gunners failed to clear their lines from a box and a wild header fell straight to Lichaj again on the edge of the Arsenal box. The full-back took it down on his chest before striking a wonderful volley into the far top corner to put his side ahead before the break.
Many Arsenal fans would’ve expected Arsenal to come out for the second-half with a new attitude but that wasn’t the case. It was a case of more of the same for the Gunners and they were soon punished.
Rob Holding left a trailing leg out to bring down the attacker down. The referee pointed straight to the spot, allowing the impressive 18-year-old Ben Brereton to make it 3-1.
But the game wasn’t finished. A simple pass through for Danny Welbeck was overhit but Forest goalkeeper, Jordan Smith mishandled the ball. With the keeper on the floor, Welbeck simply tapped the ball into the open net to make it 3-2.
Referee John Moss awarded Forest yet another penalty late on but the drama was far from finished. Kieran Dowell stepped up to score but replays showed that he hit the ball with both feet while slipping. The referee failed to spot it and awarded the goal.
Forest were later reduced to ten men but by that time, the game was over.
GK) David Ospina – 6
David Ospina actually played well excusing the first goal. The Colombian made a number of saves but still conceded three goals.
RCB) Mathieu Debuchy – 4
He had his moments and certainly wasn’t the worst member of the defence. Mathieu Debuchy moved forward well but was guilty of conceding a penalty.
Sub: Chuba Akpom (88′) – N/A
Akpom was unfortunate to miss his one big chance after coming on as a sub.
CB) Per Mertesacker – 3
He may have grabbed Arsenal’s equalising goal to make it 1-1 but Per Mertesacker was poor. The German’s lack of pace has never been more evident than it was today as Forest stretched him around to all areas of the pitch.
LCB) Rob Holding – 2
Rob Holding was woeful. The youngster had a dreadful afternoon strewn with defensive errors and poor positioning. What has happened to his development?
RWB) Reiss Nelson – 5.5
Reiss Nelson had his moments. Things didn’t quite work out for him moving forward but he looked far more impressive than most.
RCM) Mohamed Elneny – 5
He was poor. Mohamed Elneny just looked a few yards off the pace of this one as he was regularly caught out of position, particularly for the second Forest goal.
LCM) Joe Willock – 5
He didn’t do anything especially bad but the youngster just couldn’t get into the game. This wasn’t the sort of game where Joe Willock could control possession in midfield.
Sub: Eddie Nketiah (67′) – 5
Looked bright but didn’t see enough of the ball.
LWB) Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 4
He had his moments. Ainsley Maitland-Niles looked a threat at times when moving forward but just couldn’t find that final pass.
RAM) Theo Walcott – 3
A poor evening for Theo Walcott in what could well be one of his last performances for the club.
LAM) Alex Iwobi – 5
He wasn’t the worst player offensively but he still had a quiet match. Alex Iwobi was anonymous at times this evening.
ST) Danny Welbeck – 4
A poor night for Danny Welbeck too. He just couldn’t seem to get going this evening and contributed very little to the team barring that last goal to make it 3-2.