Mikel Arteta said Arsenal needed to apologize after a below average performance led to the FA Cup third round defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Lewis Grabban’s late goal proved the difference at the City Ground when Forest shocked the Gunners again, beating them 4-2 at the same stage in 2018.
Arteta made several changes to his squad, but still included Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Bernd Leno in the starting XI.
“We weren’t good enough and we have to apologize for that,” said Arsenal manager Arteta ITV.
I don’t want to use excuses, I expect the team I have fielded to do better and when you are not in the cup you are out.
“Today we have shown that we are not able to win against Forest away from home and that we have not reached the level to win the game. It is a collective matter and today we have not done it. What we have done today is not at all close to the level and standards required “.
Arteta added in the post-match press conference: “We needed more push, more hunger to win at any cost in every single action, much more. We weren’t at our level.
“I am really disappointed with the performance, first of all. Not for the attitude, but for how much purpose we have and what determination we have shown to change the game when it is difficult to play against and the way they play.
“I have played in matches like this for the past 18 years and I know how complicated it is to come here and it is not surprising the difficulties you will encounter. But when we do, we have to approach it in a different way.
“It’s really painful. It’s a competition that is very tied to our history and getting out of it is a great blow.”
Even though Arsenal had a lot more possession, they failed to shoot on goal.
Nuno Tavares was hooked after just 34 minutes of play and showed his frustration as he threw the gloves to the ground.
Asked about the decision to replace Tavares, Arteta said: “I did it just to try and improve the team’s performance.
“I have to make the decision to try to improve the team’s performance when it’s not going in any other direction.”
Arsenal are hoping for an improvement in the next three games.
On 13 and 20 January they will face Liverpool in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup, on both sides of the away match against north London rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday 16 January.
Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper said he was “very proud” of his players.
He said: “We were up against a very good team and we had a clear game plan. We wanted to be brave with our pressing and catch them off guard and that’s how we scored.
“I’m really proud of the guys, happy with the performance. It’s fantastic to go through and I hope the players now really believe in what we’re doing.
“[Grabban] is the captain of the club. He has experience and we work together on how we use it. Then we took him and he scored. “