The FA Cup
Nottm ForestNottingham Forest4ArsenalArsenal2

Nottingham Forest 4-2 Arsenal

By Andrew MullenBBC Sport

Arsene Wenger was condemned to his first FA Cup third-round exit as managerless Championship side Nottingham Forest stunned holders Arsenal at the City Ground.

The hosts took the lead when Eric Lichaj headed in from close range, although the advantage lasted just three minutes as Per Mertesacker followed up after Rob Holding's header had struck the post.

Lichaj reclaimed the lead for a Forest side led by caretaker boss Gary Brazil, the American defender scoring a spectacular dipping volley from the edge of the area a minute before half-time.

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.

Danny Welbeck reduced the deficit for Wenger's much-changed side after Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith failed to hold a through-ball.

But 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, before Forest's Joe Worrall was shown a red card in the closing stages for a late tackle.

Penalty controversy as Wenger's gamble backfires

Wenger has not held back in his criticism of referees in recent weeks, so much so the Frenchman was forced to watch this tie from the stands as he served the first of a three-match touchline ban handed down by the Football Association.

The Gunners boss may feel he has another grievance to air at the end of this match, after referee Jon Moss elected to allow Forest's second penalty kick despite Arsenal players arguing that Dowell touched the ball twice after slipping on his run-up.

It is unclear if Arsenal deserved to have their appeals upheld, with repeated replays proving inconclusive.

Wenger sent out a side showing nine changes from Wednesday's thrilling 2-2 draw with Chelsea, the manager clearly with one eye on next week's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against the Blues.

The 68-year-old has fielded weakened sides in cup competitions countless times down the years, but on this occasion he appeared to underestimate his mid-table Championship opponents, who showed great desire en route to a famous upset.

For their part, Arsenal's youthful side produced a disjointed display, with the experience provided by Mertesacker and Welbeck not enough as the visitors saw their hopes of winning this trophy for the fourth time in five years comprehensively ended at the first hurdle.

Forest finding their feet

Last week's 1-0 home defeat to struggling Sunderland was the trigger for Forest to sack manager Mark Warburton with the side 14th in the table and having won one of their past seven league games.

Academy manager Brazil oversaw Monday's goalless draw with play-off hopefuls Leeds United and that turnaround in form continued from the first whistle against Arsenal.

The two-time FA Cup winners were hungrier in all areas, and despite Arsenal enjoying close to 70% possession, Forest fully deserved the win.

The stats also showed Arsenal had the ball in the Forest final third for 30% of the match, but crucially the home side had nine shots on target compared to four from the visitors.

Forest simply did more with the ball when they had it, and should they able to transfer that into the Championship for the remainder of the season, any fears of relegation should be far from their thoughts.

Nottingham Forest 4-2 Arsenal: Arsene Wenger found the game 'very frustrating'

'Our performance wasn't good enough' - reaction

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "It was very frustrating [being in the stands] and unfortunately it was a case on top of that of seeing the team lose. We played a very good Forest team who were sharp and focused. The challenges were decisive. Overall our performance wasn't good enough.

"We have many players on the edge [of fitness] and we play again on Wednesday. When you don't win the selection is always questioned. I believe we had an experienced team - eight or nine internationals. It would be easy to think that was the problem.

"When you're against a team like that they're very difficult to beat. Defensively you cannot afford the mistakes we made."

Forest caretaker boss Gary Brazil: "That was a fantastic day for the football club. I may be a little bit biased but I think it was a well-deserved win. There were some big performances from the players this afternoon and I always felt comfortable we would go on and win the game and so it proved.

"It would have been foolish to play the game Arsenal wanted us to so we had to go on the front foot and get in amongst them. We didn't want to give them space or time on the ball or allow them to dictate the game. Our first 10 minutes showed our intent and we really set the tempo of the contest."

But I could get a dog?

Forest defender Eric Lichaj joked that team-mate David Vaughan had robbed him of the chance to earn a new dog after he asked to take one of the second-half penalties.

"My wife told me if I get a hat-trick any time during the year that I get a dog, so I was trying to get the penalty but Vaughany told me politely - I don't want to say what he said to me - to go away."

Man of the match: Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest)

Ben Brereton celebrates scoring for Nottingham Forest
The 18-year-old typified Forest’s approach to the game, and was denied three times by Ospina in the first half before coolly dispatching a second-half penalty to hand his side a crucial 3-1 lead


Nottm Forest

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 43Smith
  • 2Lichaj
  • 42WorrallBooked at 89mins
  • 4Mancienne
  • 6Traore
  • 24Vaughan
  • 11Osborn
  • 14CashSubstituted forMcKayat 87'minutes
  • 20DowellSubstituted forMillsat 90+3'minutes
  • 16CloughSubstituted forWalkerat 56'minutes
  • 17Brereton


  • 5Mills
  • 10McKay
  • 30Henderson
  • 31Bouchalakis
  • 34Walker
  • 35Cummings
  • 39Vellios


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 13OspinaBooked at 85mins
  • 2DebuchyBooked at 84minsSubstituted forAkpomat 87'minutes
  • 4MertesackerBooked at 86mins
  • 16Holding
  • 30Maitland-Niles
  • 35Elneny
  • 69WillockSubstituted forNketiahat 65'minutes
  • 14Walcott
  • 17Iwobi
  • 61Nelson
  • 23WelbeckBooked at 86mins


  • 21Chambers
  • 22Reine-Adelaide
  • 32Akpom
  • 43Da Silva
  • 54Macey
  • 62Nketiah
  • 63Osei-Tutu
Jonathan Moss

Match Stats

Home TeamNottm ForestAway TeamArsenal
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Nottingham Forest 4, Arsenal 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 4, Arsenal 2.

  3. Post update

    Offside, Nottingham Forest. Barrie McKay tries a through ball, but Ben Brereton is caught offside.

  4. Substitution

    Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Matt Mills replaces Kieran Dowell.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Chuba Akpom (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  7. Dismissal

    Second yellow card to Joe Worrall (Nottingham Forest) for a bad foul.

  8. Post update

    Chuba Akpom (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Joe Worrall (Nottingham Forest).

  10. Booking

    Joe Worrall (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Chuba Akpom replaces Mathieu Debuchy.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Barrie McKay replaces Matthew Cash.

  13. Booking

    Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

  14. Booking

    Per Mertesacker (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

  15. Goal!

    Goal! Nottingham Forest 4, Arsenal 2. Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the high centre of the goal.

  16. Booking

    David Ospina (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

  17. Booking

    Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  18. Post update

    Penalty conceded by Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal) after a foul in the penalty area.

  19. Post update

    Penalty Nottingham Forest. Armand Traore draws a foul in the penalty area.

  20. Post update

    Theo Walcott (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.


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