Nottingham Forest v Arsenal

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Press conference

'Forest deserved to win… it's as simple as that’

Our Emirates FA Cup defence came to an end at City Ground, after we were knocked out by Nottingham Forest in the third round.

It is the first time Arsène Wenger has ever lost at this stage of the competition and after the game he was asked about his side’s performance, Nottingham Forest’s sharpness and our premature exit.

Here’s what he said:

on the game…
Overall, you can congratulate Nottingham Forest for an outstanding performance. They were sharp, won decisive challenges, were always dangerous going forward and I would say they deserved to win today. It’s as simple as that. 

on the penalty decisions…
I said what I’ve had to say many times and I will not talk about the referees. I think I’ve talked about that and that’s basically what I think. For the rest, there’s nothing to add.

on not wanting to pass comment on the decisions…
No. Nothing to say.

on whether we missed his presence on the sidelines…
No, I wouldn’t say that. I just think that we were not good enough anywhere, not at the front and not in the middle or at the back. We paid for it and they looked sharper, had more chances and that’s all I can say. Nottingham Forest had an outstanding performance today. We couldn’t fault any individual performance from Forest today. 

on whether he regrets making nine changes…
We had a very difficult schedule, many players were on the edge and we play again on Wednesday. It was nearly impossible not to make [changes]. I can understand that the selection is questioned, but it would also be a little bit of an easy excuse because we had eight or nine experienced international players on the pitch today. Even against a Championship team, we played with all the respect and that would be the wrong excuse. 

on whether he’s disappointed senior players didn’t show more…
I wouldn’t like to talk about the individual performances today because it’s disappointing that we lost the game. That’s all I can say. There are some days where you have to say, ‘Nottingham Forest were better than us’. Unfortunately that was the case. Of course that was disappointing and on top of that we have another big game on Wednesday. We have to focus on that now. 

on whether it hurts to give up the Emirates FA Cup…
It hurts very much. We’ve won the FA Cup three times in the last four years. On the other end, we don’t win the FA Cup every year. It’s a difficult competition to win. Of course it hurts very much to go out in the third round. 

on it being the first time that’s happened to him…
Yes but I knew it would be a tricky place to come before coming here. We played here two years ago and at the moment they have a strong solidarity. They were a bit in trouble and you could say that the FA Cup could be an opportunity for them to stick together. On top of that, when we came back it was important not to make another mistake. That’s why it’s disappointing. During the game, we repeated the same mistakes. That’s where we are guilty today. Once, twice, three times - at that level, you cannot afford that. 

on whether the repeated mistakes surprise him…
I always expect the best of my time.

on how it felt to watch from the stands…
Bad. I hate it. 

on being taunted by the Forest fans…
No, the fans chant together. That’s part of English football but individually, when you meet them in the stands, they are always nice. 

on whether Kieran Dowell kicked his penalty twice…
I didn’t see it. I saw that the players complained. I didn’t see it, honestly. They said they were 100 per cent certain that he double-touched the ball.


‘Nobody justified their selection today’

Per Mertesacker’s final Emirates FA Cup experience will no doubt have left a sour taste in his mouth.

Our captain is to become our academy manager at the end of the season and, despite equalising in the first half against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, could not help us avoid a third-round exit at City Ground.

We spoke to our skipper after the game and this is what he said:

on summing up his emotions after the game…
It’s pretty easy. The manager made a lot of changes, gave a lot of trust to players who haven’t played a lot recently and I don’t think anybody justified their selection today. That sums it up I think.

on the team not being good enough…
It’s difficult. In the first half we played in the park a little bit. We were not precise, especially in the final third. We couldn’t create a lot of chances. In the second half there was a little bit more spirit from ourselves, but in the duels you could see that they out-battled us and that little momentum never really changed. When we scored to make it 3-2 and when he mis-kicked the penalty, obviously we expressed it to the ref but he didn’t listen. It’s difficult to take because for those players who played today, that was probably a last chance to show up and show the manager that they’re ready to play more games. It’s not the case anymore.

on the penalty…
Yes [it was a double contact]. It would’ve been a free-kick for us. You could clearly see it, that’s why we shouted to the referee. He didn’t have any explanation and that’s on him. They obviously spoke to each other, and nobody saw the incident. David saw it and all the players did too.

on trophies still to play for…
Yes but we wanted the FA Cup. This feels like we had to defend it, but you couldn’t see that we really wanted to defend it. This round is always the toughest. You face a Championship side away and you need to be ready but for the majority of the game, we were not.


Wenger - Emirates FA Cup exit hurts so much

After 22 years, Arsène Wenger’s long unbeaten run in the Emirates FA Cup third round has come to an end.

We were knocked out of the competition with a 4-2 defeat at Nottingham Forest, and the manager who has won the trophy more than any other says his first-ever taste of defeat at this stage “hurts very much”.

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

“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.

“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."


Match video: Nottingham Forest v Arsenal

Our Emirates FA Cup title defence came to a disappointing early end, as we were beaten 4-2 by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

The hosts took the lead through a header from Eric Lichaj, while Per Mertesacker equalised soon after from close range. Lichaj soon doubled up and put Forest back in the lead shortly before the break.

Following the interval, Forest stretched their lead through Ben Brereton from the spot. We hit back with a strike from Danny Welbeck, only for the hosts to add a fourth once again from the spot when Debuchy was this time penalised for a trip on Armand Traore, which was put away by Keiran Dowell.

Click on the video below to watch our bitesize highlights and on the video above to watch our extended highlights.

Watch the first half

Watch the second half

Post-Match Gallery

Nottingham Forest 4-2 Arsenal: In pictures

See the best of the action from our photographers on a frustrating afternoon at the City Ground

The Breakdown

Analysis: What went wrong against Forest?

We were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the third-round stage for the first time since 1996 as we lost 4-2 to Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

In the latest episode of The Breakdown, Adrian Clarke examines the match in detail, focusing on:

  • How Forest was sharper than us on the day
  • Encouraging displays from Nelson and Nketiah
  • Why the switch to a back four didn't work out
  • The debate surrounding Forest's second penalty

Click the 'Play' button to watch the The Breakdown and then check out the following:


Press conference

Wenger discusses January transfers and Evans

There were plenty of talking points surrounding on-field matters following our Emirates FA Cup third-round defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Off-field events were also up for discussion, with Arsène Wenger being asked about rumours linking us with West Bromwich Albion defender Jonny Evans and his plans for the January transfer window. 

Here’s what he said: 

on being linked to Jonny Evans…
No, I cannot give you any news on any transfer because we are not close to signing anybody. We signed a Greek boy who looks quite good in training but apart from that, we have not done anything. Will we be out there to do something? Yes we will.

on whether he is hopeful of developments this week…
Yes because we are in the second week of January. After that, it passes quickly.

Post-Match Report

Nottingham Forest 4-2 Arsenal: How it happened

Arsène Wenger lost his proud unbeaten run in the FA Cup third round, as we crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle for the first time since 1996.

The Gunners conceded two penalties in the second half – the second of which seemed to have been scored with a double contact – to end our dreams of another FA Cup success.

Earlier Forest full back Eric Lichaj scored a rare brace - either side of Per Mertesacker's equaliser - but once again we paid the price for conceding controversial spot kicks, just as Danny Welbeck looked to have given us a lifelong late on.

Our side showed nine changes from Wednesday's draw with Chelsea, but we started brightly, looking to use the pace out wide from both Theo Walcott and Reiss Nelson on the wings.

David Ospina made a good low save from Matty Cash on 20 minutes, but the keeper was beaten moments later from close range. Kieran Dowell whipped in a fierce free-kick from a tight angle, and Eric Lichaj arrived ahead of the keeper to get the final touch.

The lead lasted barely three minutes. Reiss Nelson won a free kick on the edge of the penalty box, which Walcott sent into a dangerous area. Rob Holding headed against the post but Mertesacker coolly controlled the rebound before stabbing home the equaliser. It was the defender's 10th goal for the club, but as good as we looked going forward, the youthful Forest attack of Ben Brereton and Cash were causing problems at the other end.

Ospina was called into action a couple of times to deny Brereton, but he could do nothing about the second goal.

Holding's headed clearance only fell to the edge of the box, and Lichaj let the ball bounce before sending it straight into the top corner. The American full back is hardly known for his goalscoring record, but his first-half double had put us on the back foot at the City Ground.

We dominated possession in the early part of the second half, without creating any clear-cut chances, or working Jordan Smith.

But Forest soaked up the pressure and extended the lead from the penalty spot. Rob Holding upended Cash in the box, and for the third game in a row we conceded from the spot. The impressive Brereton dispatched the kick beyond Ospina.

Eddie Nketiah was immediately introduced, and forced a smart save from Smith with a left-footed effort in the area.

Danny Welbeck gave us a lifeline when he stroked home inside the area, after Smith dropped the ball in the area.

Welbeck then had a penalty appeal waved away shortly afterwards, but another moment of controversy ended our defence of the trophy.

Jon Moss adjudged that Debuchy had fouled Armand Traore in the area. Dowell converted, but the officials missed the fact the spot kick was a double kick, and the goal was allowed to stand.

There was time for a late red card for Joe Worrall, and Walcott couldn't quite convert from close range, as the record-breaking 13-time FA Cup winners crashed out.

What it means

Our defence of the FA Cup ended at the first hurdle. This was our first third-round defeat since losing to Sheffield United in 1996 and only our second defeat to Forest in our last 15 games.


What's Next

It's a switch of cup competition on Wednesday night, as we travel to Chelsea for the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final. We return to Premier League action for another away game - this time at Bournemouth - on Sunday at 1.30pm.

Reiss Nelson watch

The 18-year-old had seen plenty of action so far this season, but he was used in a more advanced position at the City Ground. 

7 Swaps passes with Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the left wing, but the attack fizzles out

9 Plays a one two with Danny Welbeck, then set up a chance for Alex Iwobi just outside the box, but the shot was charged down.

13 Collects the ball deep in his own half, and sprinted beyond his man, but was dispossessed by a covering tackle

17 Reiss picked up possession on the left wing, drifted in field and was inches away from releasing Theo Walcott in the box.

21 Nelson wins a free-kick just outside the area after nutmegging his man, and the Gunners equalised from the resulting setpiece.

33 Sets up Iwobi again on the edge of the area, but the Nigerian's shot was high and wide.