The Gunners were eliminated from the FA Cup third round against Nottingham Forest after Lewis Grabban’s late strike secured a 1-0 victory for the hosts at the City Ground. On Sunday evening, Mikel Arteta was unhappy with his performance against the Championship side.
Arsenal may be reviving under Mikel Arteta; however, they faced a similar fate at the City Ground, indicating that much work is still to be done. As of 7th Jan 2018 (four years ago), a managerless Forest defeated Arsenal 4-2 inside the third round, as Arsene Wenger’s tenure dragged on.
The Gunners, 14-time champions, presented a fragmented display that received the result it merited, with Nottingham Forest matching the Gunners to maintain their upward trajectory under Steve Cooper’s guidance.
Nottingham Forest 1 – 0 Arsenal: Highlights as Lewis Grabban Scores the Winner Against the Gunners
Arsenal headed into the encounter, looking to rotate their squad due to many key players absent in the camp. Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left for Cameroon to compete in the African Cup of Nations. On Saturday, Ainsley Maitland-Niles exacerbated the shortfall by completing his loan transfer to Roma.
There were many adjustments from the previous Premier League appearance. Arteta delivered a debut start in senior football for promising midfielder Charlie Patino, partnered with Albert Sambi Lokonga in the park’s center. Arteta kept Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, and Bernd Leno inside the starting Eleven.
The roster was packed with young academy stars Salah Oulad M’Hand, Omari Hutchinson, and Mika Biereth on the substitute’s bench.
Lewis Grabban gave the hosts the game-winning goal to book a fourth-round meeting with Forest’s rivals and holders – Leicester City. Lokonga lost possession of the ball in the midfield, and Yates could drift in down the right-wing and deliver the perfect cross, enabling Grabban to slip in and win the game from six yards out.
Arsenal battled throughout to break down an organized Nottingham Forest, as Eddie Nketiah missed their finest opportunity with Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard being quickly closed down. During a tentative first half for the Gunners, Ben White and Eddie Nketiah both dragged shots wide, while Albert Lokonga saw a shot deflect wide.
Even though they failed to put Bernd Leno under pressure, the hosts were proficient in the attack. It was evident that Arteta was worried when he substituted Nuno Tavares after only 34 minutes.
The defender, who Kierney Tierney substituted, had a poor first half, during which a reckless back ball came close to catching Leno off guard. His annoyance was evident as he tossed his gloves on the ground without looking at his boss.
Mikel Arteta was unhappy with his full-back, who lost possession of the ball multiple times and jeopardized his team with a terrible back pass. It summed up the visitors’ half when they were out of control, and Forest’s pace was beginning to worry them.
Nottingham Forest created the game’s first real opportunity when Brennan Johnson found Cedric on the right flank, crossing towards Philip Zinckernagel to challenge Leno. Arsenal then squandered a fantastic opportunity when Saka baited Jack Colback before crossing towards Nketiah.
The attacker had beaten Joe Worrall to a clear header from 6 yards but utterly misjudged his effort, which drifted wide. The match threatened to breathe new life into it, and Leno saved superbly from James Garner’s free-kick shortly after the hour as Forest surged, but it was too fleeting.
After failing to create an effect continuously, Charlie Patino was substituted on his entire debut by Alexandre Lacazette. However, the same can be said about his teammates, who lacked coherence.
It was a boring performance that belied Arsenal’s recent form. The hosts sensed their opportunity, and when Arsenal eventually broke through with seven minutes remaining, it was entirely their fault.
Reactions of the Managers in the Post-match News Conference
Arteta said he was not looking for excuses as he expected the squad to do better. “Today demonstrated that we did not perform at a higher level to win the match. It is a collective issue, and we have failed to address it today. What we have accomplished today falls well short of the needed level and criteria.”
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper expressed his “extreme pride” in his team. “We showed a pretty excellent squad and had a well-defined game plan,” he explained. We intended to be bold with the pressing and attack them on the break, which we scored. Steve was proud of the boys’ performance and their fantastic efforts to have made it this far.
What Comes Next
At 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nottingham Forest travels to Millwall, while Arsenal will visit Anfield to face Liverpool in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on the same day. Arsenal has a Premier League match against north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday, 16th Jan.