CM – Match report: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal

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Only for the second time in the last 26 years have we not made it through the third round of the FA Cup – and Nottingham Forest was – as in 2018 – our archenemy.

In truth, after a very lackluster performance at the City Ground, we can have few complaints.

We were far from our best, we didn’t create much and we ended up being punished with a late goal from Lewis Grabban.

The first half was a particularly monotonous affair, with neither side getting a shot on goal.

Eddie Nketiah and Sambi Lokonga had both deflected shots from outside the box, but the usual fluid and quick movement we had seen over the past few weeks just wasn’t there.

To change something, Mikel Arteta brought in Kieran Tierney for Nuno Tavares after only half an hour. Tierney was clearly sent forward with the instruction, but our creativity was lacking before half-time whistle.

After the restart, the performance had to be improved, but the hosts had the first chance in the second period – Leno parried a Philip Zinckernagel shot after Brennan Johnson raced off on the right side.

Nketiah headed well past the far post on a Bukayo Saka cross before Leno came back and stretched to block a James Garner free-kick.

Nketiah tried his luck again after breaking free in the box, but shot over from a difficult angle.

It was hard to tell where a breakthrough would come from, but as the game went into the final ten minutes, it was the hosts who scored the only goal. Lewis Grabban, who had only been on the field for 15 minutes, converted well after a cross from Ryan Yates at the far post.

We had just under ten minutes to score the goal that would keep us in the FA Cup.

But it wasn’t supposed to be, and we bowed out of the competition without getting a shot on target.

Mikel Arteta made seven changes to the team that narrowly lost to Manchester City on New Years Day.

The 18-year-old midfielder Charlie Patino made his first start in history after scoring in the Carabao Cup last month. He was at the side of Sambi Lokonga, Thomas Partey had left for the Africa Cup.

Bernd Leno returned to goal, behind a back four made up of Cedric Soares, Nuno Tavares, Ben White and captain Rob Holding. Gabriel is serving a suspension for a game.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli stood on either side of Eddie Nkeitah, with Martin Odegaard as number 10.

There were three potential debutants on the bench: striker Mika Biereth, midfielder Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand and winger Omari Hutchinson – all 18 years old.

For the rest of the season we only have to focus on two competitions: the Premier League and the Carabao Cup – the latter will continue on Thursday.

We’re focusing on the Carabao Cup on Thursday when we go to Anfield for the first leg of the semi-finals. The second leg, postponed from last week, will take place on the following Thursday in the Emirates.

But between these two games we are making the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the next Sunday afternoon, where three valuable Premier League points can be won in the North London Derby.

Copyright 2022 Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use citations from this article is granted subject to appropriate citing of www.arsenal.com as a source.

Always be one step ahead

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