Arsene Wenger was very brave to make so many changes in our first defence of our FA Cup trophy, and it certainly evened up the quality of the side. In fact in the first 15 minutes it was Nottingham Forest that were creating all the chances and they came pretty close in the first 10 minutes.
After 15 minutes it looked like Forest were even more in control and Ospina was forced into an excellent save from a shot that went right across the goal and was clearly aiming for the bottom left corner of the net but Ospina got down brilliantly to get a hand to deflect it past the post. Three minutes later Forest were deservedly in front from a brilliant freekick that was straight along the goal-line and Ospina was nowhere near it and a free header put in in the net from a yard out.
At least that gave Arsenal the proverbial kick and they went forward in earnest in search of the equalizer. The Gunners got a very dubious free kick at the side of the Forest box and from the resulting melee our unlikely FA Cup hero Per Mertesacker was there to poke it into the net. 1-1 and game on – with only 20 minutes gone. Already Arsenal had had 5 shots on goal and Forest had had 7, showing how open and attacking the game was on the pitch. An excellent Cup match was in progress!
On the half hour mark Forest did a trademark Arsenal tactic and broke away and Bereton controlled the ball brilliantly but his shot was blocked by an alert Ospina. But Arsenal kept attacking and Nelson, AMN, Iwobi and Danny Welbeck were passing it around well on the left of Forest’s half and the Gunners were looking much more dangerous again.
But Forest fought back immediately and Ospina got injured going down to save, but just 2 minutes later as half time was imminent, Forest incredibly took the lead again with a brilliant volley that left Ospina stranded on the floor scurrying at air. God knows what Wenger was thinking up in the stands, but he quickly got up and went down towards the dressing room…. Arsenal have a tougher fight on their hands than they expected!
The second half started with a bit more urgency from Arsenal after Wenger’s half-time talk, but Forest soaked it up, and on the hour mark Forest came back into it and came very close to their third goal, but it didn’t matter as two minutes later Holding brought down Bereton down in the box and Forest had a penalty, and Wenger couldn’t even complain to the referee from the stand. Obviously Arsenal don’t do penalties and suddenly it looks like we are getting close to being knocked out of a competition that they haven’t lost in for three years.
Wenger brings on Nketiah in the hope of another miracle from the youngster and with 20 minutes left it could work, but only if they can actually get a shot on target. The first hour produced 10 shots each, but Forest had 7 on target while Arsenal had just the one, from Mertesacker, which is why we are losing 3-1!
You would think Arsenal would be attacking like hell at two goals behind but the next two chances fell to Forest again and the Championship side are looking much fitter and hungrier. But there was yet another twist with 12 minutes to go when the Forest keeper takes the ball off Danny Welbeck but somehow spills it and gives the Arsenal striker his first shot on target, which trickles over the line. Arsenal are back in it and could this be another brilliant Arsenal comeback in the last 10 minutes!
Two minutes later Welbeck had a chance of a header in the box, but spent more time trying to work out how to get a penalty and the ball went straight back down the other end. The winger skips past an immobile Mertesacker and drives into the box where Debuchy takes him down and Forest have yet another penalty and Kieran Dowell makes it 4-2! Wenger will have a field day after this game as the players try and get the shot disallowed for a double touch when he slipped on the spot, but the linesman says no, and the goal is allowed.
Then Forest have a man sent off as Joe Worrel goes for a loose ball, but gets entangled with Elneny who came from nowhere and goes flying. Second yellow and off! This is a classic cup tie but the Arsenal fans will be fuming, but not as much as Wenger! Arsenal nearly made another comeback with two minutes of stoppage time remaining but the keeper gets a finger on it thats just enough to clip it towards the post. Walcott tries to catch up with it but just gets there too late and really Arsenal have had their last chance.
No matter how much Wenger complains about the decisions, Forest were absolutely brilliant, too good for the Arsenal reserves. Perhaps Wenger should stop complaining about refs decisions and start looking at why he made ten changes to defend his FA Cup crown….
Maybe he has rested players because he is concentrating on the League Cup this year?