Nottingham Forest dump Arsenal out of the FA Cup
Nottingham Forest beat holders Arsenal 4-2 in their third round FA Cup tie at the City Ground this afternoon.
Forest thoroughly deserved the victory and advance to the fourth round with goals from Eric Lichaj (2), and penalties from Ben Brereton and Kieran Dowell. The Gunners goals were scored by Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck.
Leaving aside the team selection and penalty decisions, it was another lacklustre performance and shambolic defensive effort from Arsenal.
Something that has characterised this season, particularly away from home.
Before today Arsenal had not gone out in the third round of the FA Cup since 1996, when they lost to Sheffield United in a replay.
Nottingham Forest are the first team from a lower division to score four goals against Arsenal in FA Cup tie.
Before today’s match Forest had won just one of their past 14 matches against the Gunners in all competitions.
Arsene Wenger made nine changes to the side that started against Chelsea on Wednesday. Only Ainsley-Maitland-Niles and Rob Holding retained their places.
Theo Walcott set up Danny Welbeck on the fifteen minute mark, but the striker wasn’t able to get his header on target.
The home side took the lead on twenty minutes. Maitland-Niles conceded a free kick close to the by-line following a short corner.
Kieran Dowell’s free-kick was headed into the net from close range by Eric Lichaj past David Ospina.
Arsenal were on terms three minutes later. Reiss Nelson won a free kick/
Theo Walcott’s free-kick was met by the head of Rob Holding, but his header bounced off the post. Per Mertesacker reacted quickest to control and fire the ball into the net past Jordan Smith.
Forest continued to carry a threat at the other Ben Brereton was too quick for the Arsenal defence and after a weaving run had a shot that forced a save from Ospina.
It was Lichaj who put the home side back in front on the stroke of half-time.
He took full advantage of a loose header from Holding, took the ball down on his chest and sent a volley into the top corner of the net past Ospina.
It was Forest who struck first in the second period from the penalty spot. The third match in a row that the Gunners have conceded a spot kick. They went on to concede another one before this match was over.
Rob Holding fouled Matthew Cash after a heavy first. 18-year-old Ben Brereton made no mistake from the spot.
Brereton continued to be a threat to the Gunners rear-guard with his willing running.
At the other end substitute Eddie Nketiah then forced a save from Smith.
Welbeck pulled a goal back for Arsenal with eleven minutes remaining.
Smith fumbled a through ball into the penalty area. Welbeck rolled the ball into an empty net from an acute angle.
Moments later Welbeck appealed for a penalty after a challenge from Michael Mancienne.
Referee Jon Moss turned down the appeals, but he did point for a spot-kick at the other end as the game headed into the final five minutes.
Mathieu Debuchy was adjudged to have fouled former Gunner Armand Traore.
Everton loanee Kieran Dowell stepped up to take the penalty. He slipped in his run-up but the ball ended up in the net – despite appeals from the Arsenal players that he kicked the ball against his standing leg into the net.
There was still time for Joe Worrall to be shown a red card and Nottingham Forest ended the match with 10 men. Worrall was sent off for a foul on substitute Chuba Akpom.
The red card didn’t make any difference to the result, and the Gunners were second best and well beaten.
Next up for Arsenal is the first leg of the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Arsenal: Ospina, Debuchy (Akpom), Mertesacker, Holding, Nelson, Willock (Nketiah), Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Walcott, Iwobi, Welbeck