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.