Arsenal lost at Nottingham Forest by a final score of 4-2 to crash out of the FA Cup, which they were defending, in the 3rd round. Poor performances from the more senior players, in particular Per Mertesacker, Rob Holding, and David Ospina, propelled what was frankly a wild, ludicrous game with a bit of everything.
Arsene Wenger watched from the stands with Steve Bould his deputy in the dugout as the first half started very slowly, both teams content to pass the ball around. No chances emerged for the first 15 minutes; Forest closed down Arsenal in possession while looking for breaks to Ben Brereton. Things started to open up, and that’s when the silliness began.
Forest earned a free kick at the side of Arsenal’s 18, and Matty Cash whipped it in towards David Ospina’s crossbar. No Arsenal player bothered to mark Eric Lichaj, and the American simply stepped in front of Ospina to nod it into the roof of the net.
Arsenal would fight back immediately, earning a similar free kick. Theo Walcott stepped up to take it, and Per Mertesacker was there to clean up the slop:
Mertesacker equalises for Arsenal. 1-1 pic.twitter.com/JXanch5k36— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) January 7, 2018
Things settled back into their familiar pattern after the goal, although Brereton was finding more and more space to run behind Mertesacker and Rob Holding. But it would be Lichaj, unbelievably, to score his second 44 minutes in, some terrible Arsenal defending and a failure to step to the ball leaving him with room to chest down and volley a serious effort into the top corner. Forest would go into the break up 2-1.
Arsenal came out hard in the second half, generating a lot of pressure if no chances. But Forest continued to work through Brereton, and 63 minutes in, Holding goofed up badly. catching Matty Cash with a clumsly left foot in the box.
Brereton stepped up and converted the spot kick easily to put Forest up 3-1.
Arsenal tried to hang in; Eddie Nketiah joined the party, and 78 minutes in, Danny Welbeck scored one of his most trash goals (and that’s really saying something) to give Arsenal hope:
Welbeck capitalises on a huge error by the Forest GK. 3-2 pic.twitter.com/NLuC56E0ed— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) January 7, 2018
But it wasn’t to last. Five minutes later, Mathieu Debuchy brought down Armand Traore from behind (he got a touch on the ball, but Jon Moss deemed it a penalty regardless), and Everton loanee Kieran Dowell stepped up to take the spot kick. He slipped and looked to kick the ball off of his plant foot for a double touch, which went in; Moss checked with his assistant and called it good anyway. 4-2 to Forest.
Arsenal worked hard as Forest went down to ten men after Joe Worrall got two yellows in 45 seconds, but it was not to be. Arsenal crash out of the cup, and Arsene Wenger’s season just gets worse.