‘Entirely deserved’ - National media give damning verdict on Arsenal’s shock FA Cup exit

By Daniel Orme

Arsenal’s hopes of lifting another FA Cup were dashed at the weekend as they fell foul to Championship outfit Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

A relatively strong Gunners side turned in a hugely tepid showing - quite the opposite to their admirable performance against Manchester City on New Year’s Day.

In the end, former Bournemouth and Aston Villa striker Lewis Grabban proved to be the key man as he fired home a late winner to book a fourth round clash with Midlands rivals Leicester City, leaving Arsenal ruing a hugely missed opportunity.

With that being said, football.london takes a look at the response to the Gunners’ shock defeat in Nottingham:


Four years ago, a defeat at the City Ground put paid to Arsène Wenger’s unblemished record in the FA Cup third round. Nobody seriously expected Mikel Arteta to put a 21-year streak together but Nottingham Forest ensured he has also now lost his first game at this stage.

The frustration for Arsenal’s manager will be that this defeat was entirely deserved, because the Championship side were simply brighter, bolder and, it often seemed, hungrier. Their winner, scored by the substitute Lewis Grabban seven minutes from time, did not come as a huge surprise and Arsenal departed without registering a shot on target.


It is more than two decades since we saw Nottingham Forest in the Premier League and here by the banks of the Trent was a reminder of what they once used to bring us.

Playing bravely and cleverly in their traditional Garibaldi red, Steve Cooper’s team from the Championship were too good, too eager and too ambitious for an Arsenal team dressed entirely in white.

Arsenal were pale in every single way. They were insipid and without heart. They ended the game without a single shot on target and headed home with the unfortunate status of being this weekend’s FA Cup fall guys. It was fully deserved.


The Gunners were labelled a “pub team” as they fired blanks and crashed out of the FA Cup at Championship Nottingham Forest to Lewis Grabban’s dramatic late winner.

The record 14-time winners of the competition saw their hopes of another Champagne Wembley triumph fall horribly flat here.

They were awful at the City Ground on Sunday where they failed to have a shot on target as boss Mikel Arteta was left fuming on the sideline.

The Spaniard even hauled off left-back Nuno Tavares, making his ninth start for the club, in the 35th minute in an embarrassing substitution.

Portuguese youngster Tavares threw away gloves and ignored Arteta after being replaced by Kieran Tierney.

But not even that drastic action was enough to sting Arsenal into life as Forest triumphed to set up an East Midlands derby at home to Leicester in the fourth round.


These stirring nights used to be the norm at the City Ground, when the floodlights beamed onto the River Trent and everything seemed possible.

Nottingham Forest’s proud history contains many notable moments and here was their second FA Cup triumph over Arsenal in four years, with the record 14-time winners making a tame exit from the competition.

Lewis Grabban’s 11th goal of the season seven minutes from the end was no more than the Championship team deserved, providing further evidence of their upward momentum under head coach Steve Cooper.

Arsenal’s preparations may have sustained damage through Covid-19 but it was still a team including the likes of Bukayo Saka, Ben White and Martin Odegaard, and they never appeared capable of preventing the upset of the day.

It was a thoroughly uncomfortable evening for Arteta, back in the technical area after missing the defeat by Manchester City on New Year’s Day, and his mood after the final whistle was dark.

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