It was always on the cards.
From the moment the manager decided to deploy his Europa League team to face the Championship team in the third round of the FA Cup, the match always looked like a prime candidate for a cup upset.
The ridiculous referring calls aside, and there were many of those, who would thought a frontline of Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi would struggle to have a decent shot on target against the defensive line of Championship mid-tablers? Who would have thought a back three of Per Mertesacker, Matthieu Debuchy and Rob Holding would quake in their boots each time the Forest players attacked?
On paper, the players fielded by the manager, who was starting his three game touchline ban, should have been enough to go past the Forest team. But on the field of play, they played nothing like they were. Despite having the lion share of the possession, the team struggled to make any insightful passes, talkless of creating any clear cut chances. And the defending when the team from Nottingham attacked was abysmal.
Their first goal came from a free kick at the edge of the box, when Lichaj was allowed to saunter across the Arsenal backline and place his header past Ospina. Their second was similar; Lichaj again was allowed the freedom of the box after the second of two unconvincing headers fell to him. His volley was unstoppable. Not even Per’s equaliser, a few minutes after the first could lift the team’s spirit and form.
The second half was more of the same; the only difference was that this time the referee was firmly in the Forest camp, awarding two very generous penalties to the home team. There was even time for a Welbeck consolation goal and a Forest red card.
It was a truly disappointing day for the Arsenal as we are knocked out of the FA Cup as defending champions at the first time of asking. But we should be used to this type of days by now, shouldn’t we?