“Emirates Stadium” by Ronnie MacDonald (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Arsenal have been dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship team Nottingham Forest and a big part of their problem on Sunday came because of very poor defending. Arsenal were cut open and exposed by their lower-division counterparts throughout the game and the pressure put on them by Forest caused mistake after mistake to happen. In the end, it was inevitable that Arsenal would play themselves into defensive trouble, and that is exactly what they did, conceding two second-half penalties to lose the game 4-2.
While Arsenal did choose to rest many of their big stars, there was enough Premier League experience in their matchday squad for them to play better than they did. In defence, they had the experience of Per Mertesacker amongst others, but even that wasn’t enough to keep the young and lively Forest strikers at bay. While the performance was disappointing overall, it was defensively where Arsenal once again looked desperate and in need of huge investment during the transfer window.
“Per Mertersacker” by Dudek1337 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
It is worth noting that nothing should be taken away from the Forest performance on the day; they took full advantage of the defensive errors that Arsenal made. Despite being 14th in the Championship table, Nottingham Forest showed great intent and didn’t show any signs of being the team that hadn’t scored in their past three games. This victory will give them something to build on, and they will be interesting to watch over the coming weeks.
After their disappointing performance in the FA Cup, Arsenal now have one less piece of silverware to go chasing after. With the League Cup putting them against Chelsea at the semi-final stage, which will be a tough game, and a whole host of big clubs joining the Europa League, we could be looking at a trophyless season for The Gunners.
The league will remain their priority, although finishing fourth in the league is their main aim, as Manchester City look to have wrapped up the title already. Arsenal are 11/4 in the latest Premier League betting to finish in the top four, which is lucrative for those who finish there, although should they finish this season without a trophy then fans will surely criticise the direction the club is going in. Right now, they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the top four, and the sale of players in January will only make it even tougher for them should that happen.
This month will be a big month both on and off the field for Arsenal and their fans will be demanding to see much better than they saw in Sunday’s FA Cup game. By the end of the month, they could find themselves further away from the top four, out of the League Cup and without a big name or two that have been sold during this transfer window. Should that happen, the unrest amongst fans will surely increase and make things very difficult for the board and manager Arsene Wenger.