Interview

‘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.