Nottingham Forest pulled off the biggest upset of the season so far, trouncing Arsenal by 4 goals to 2 in an enthralling contest at The City Ground. Horrendous defending coupled with a very determined performance from Forest meant that for the first time in Wenger’s tenure, Arsenal failed to make it past the first hurdle in the oldest Cup competition in England.
Arsenal were on the backfoot in the opening phase of the game and were punished in the 20th minute as right back Eric Lichaj headed home from point-blank range from Dowell’s powerful freekick after a Maitland Niles foul. Arsenal responded almost immediately as Mertesacker bundled the ball in from close range after Holding headed a Walcott freekick onto the post. However, Lichaj produced a moment of magic on the brink of half-time after volleying home from 20 yards to hand Forest the lead again.
The second half started with Arsenal keeping possession without creating too much, but it was Forest who scored when Brereton scored a penalty, won by Cash after he was scythed down by Holding inside the area. Nketiah was brought on in the 65th minute and nearly scored within 5 minutes when he was through on goal only to be denied by Smith. Smith, who had a great game, made a blunder to gift Arsenal a way back into the game as Welbeck finished easily when Smith came off his line and completely missed the ball. Arsenal’s hopes of coming back were evaporated when they lost possession cheaply and Debuchy felled Traore as he broke into the box. Dowell stepped up and scored in spite of slipping to seal a memorable win for The Reds.
David Ospina- 7.5/10
Made some excellent saves in the first half, could’ve done better for the first goal as the ball was quite close to him so he should’ve come out quickly to gather the ball.
Mathieu Debuchy- 4.5/10
Made some good forward runs but was caught out of possession far too many times.
Per Mertesacker- 3/10
Scored Arsenal’s equalizer at 1-0 but endured a torrid evening as Forest’s 18-year-old striker Brereton repeatedly exposed his lack of pace.
Rob Holding- 2/10
A truly miserable display from the young Englishman, as he looked nervy and slow and was ripped to shreds by Brereton. Gave away a penalty to cap off a horrible game.
Combined very well with Nelson at times and got forward a lot. Defensively his performance left a lot to be desired as he left his flank open to counters a lot of times.
Mohamed Elneny- 3.5/10
Offered nothing offensively or defensively. Extremely disappointing display from one of the more experienced players on the pitch.
Joseph Willock- 4/10
Like Elneny, didn’t offer much and overrun in midfield. Did nothing to help out his defence when needed to.
Theo Walcott- 3.5/10
Anonymous display apart from his freekick to score a goal. His head looks to be in Southampton already.
Alex Iwobi- 4/10
Played a little deeper but was extremely poor yet again as he continued his recent horrible run of form.
Reiss Nelson- 6.5/10
Only Arsenal player who looked like he’ll make something happen. Dangerous on the ball, and got into good positions. Fizzled out a bit in the second half as he tried a bit too hard and hogged the ball unnecessarily at times.
Danny Welbeck- 5.5/10
Another poor display from a player who increasingly looks surplus to requirements. Was alert for his goal but anonymous otherwise.
Edward Nketiah (Willock 65’) – 6/10
Was buzzing in his time on the pitch and nearly scored almost immediately after coming on.
Chuba Akpom (Debuchy 87’) – 5/10
Hardly any time to do something but missed a good chance to make it 4-3.
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