Managerless Championship team Nottingham Forest has ousted FA Cup holders Arsenal from the competition after a stunning 4-2 win over the Gunners.
Forest had a dream start when they took the lead through Eric Lichaj — who headed in from close range. Though the advantage lasted just three minutes as Per Mertesacker followed up after Rob Holding’s header had struck the post, Lichaj was able to reclaim the lead with a spectacular dipping volley from the edge of the area a minute before half-time.
Further trouble spelled for Arsenal as Forest pulled further clear in the second half when Ben Brereton sent David Ospina the wrong way from the penalty spot after Holding upended Matty Cash.
While Danny Welbeck reduced the deficit for Arsenal again after Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith failed to hold a through-ball, Arsenal’s first FA Cup third-round defeat since January 1996 — in a replay against Sheffield United — was confirmed courtesy of Kieran Dowell’s 85th-minute penalty.
The championship team who are 14th in English football’s second tier lost 1-0 at home to struggling Sunderland, leading to the dismissal of manager Mark Warburton with the side having won one of their past seven league games. However, caretaker manager Gary Brazil oversaw Monday’s goalless draw with play-off hopefuls Leeds United and that turnaround in form continued from the first whistle against Arsenal.
On the other hand, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made nine changes for the trip to the City Ground but said he was entitled to field such an experimental side with the League Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea mid-week. While the Frenchman added that Arsenal needed to take responsibility for themselves, he chose not to add any criticisms of referees — a staple of his comments in recent weeks.
“I have said what I had to say many times and will not talk about the referees,” Wenger said. “I’ve talked about that and I have nothing to add. I just think we were not good enough anywhere — not up front, in the middle or at the back — and we paid for it. We repeated the same mistakes — once, twice, three times.”
“They [Forest] looked sharper. They had more chances and an outstanding performance. They were sharp, winning decisive challenges, and dangerous going forward, and overall they deserved to win, as simple as that. Overall I would like to congratulate Nottingham Forest.”