Nottingham Forest 4 Arsenal 2
Lichaj (20, 44 ), Brereton 64 pen, Dowell 85 pen,
Mertersacker 23, Welbeck 79

Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup with a humbling 4-2 drubbing at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest. It was the first taste of defeat for Arsene Wenger in the 3rd round of the competition and despite his making nine changes, this was not the result he would have wanted in what may be his last taste of the FA Cup. With seven FA Cups under his belt, and three from the last four seasons, Wenger has certainly done well in the competition, but now with the Premier League surely out of the Gunners’ reach given Manchester City’s lead, it seems the focus will now very much switch to two trophies which have eluded Wenger namely the League Cup and the Europa Cup. Arsenal have been to the finals in both of those competitions, but having gone behind early against Forest, never looked like emulating their Wembley FA Cup success from last year.

“I am very disappointed by our performance because Nottingham Forest were the better team out there, the most dangerous and won many challenges,” said Wenger.

“We were not at the level and that’s it. People think maybe subconsciously that the Championship will be easier, but it’s more difficult because many of these players have been in academies, they are prepared physically and they are at the level. I can congratulate Nottingham Forest because they were the better team tonight.”

At the end of the season, Per Mertersacker will take up a coaching role at the club and the Arsenal captain deserved a better send off then that which a changed but experienced Arsenal team nevertheless produced. Metersacker reasoned that some players had a point to prove to Wenger, but they didn’t turn up. Maybe he had his friend Theo Walcott in mind, the England striker looked out of touch and out of sorts.

He wasn’t alone. With Mertersacker having levelled from Eric Lichaj’s headed opener from a free kick the Gunners were undone again by the same player whose control and lob from Rob Holding’s attempted clearance sent the City ground into overdrive. Serving the first game of a three game touchline ban, Wenger looked dismayed in the stands.

The second half fared no better as Forest kept on coming. When Holding caught Matty Cash, 18 year old Ben Brereton took the penalty, sending David Ospina the wrong way. Danny Welbeck’s persistence enabled him to get a shot away which squirmed over Jordan Smith’s line, with substitute Eddie Nketiah unable to then beat Smith having smartly turned his marker.

Forest were the recipients of a double helping of generosity when referee Jon Moss gave another penalty adjudging that Mathieu Debuchy had caught Armand Traore. If that was harsh, Kieran Dowell’s 85th spot kick got a double tap but the goal was allowed to stand and despite Arsenal protests. Although the home side were reduced to ten men when Joe Worrall was shown a red card for a late tackle, Arsenal had been beaten and the pain was evident from the players, the fans and Wenger who will now switch his attentions to Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

“It hurts very much. I’m very, very disappointed because I love the cup competitions and unfortunately you jump out of the train now – you cannot come back on it and we have to focus on our next game.

“It’s the semi-final of the League Cup and we have to absolutely turn up to it.”