N Forest 1 – 0 Arsenal

Lewis Grabban’s belated strike stunned Arsenal when Nottingham Forest dumped the Gunners from the FA Cup.

The substitute struck a 1-0 win for the league side who booked an East Midlands derby with Leicester in the fourth round.

Arsenal, a 14-time winner, produced a bumpy performance that got what it deserved, with Forest more than matching the visitors to continue their upward curve under Steve Cooper.

Four years ago, coachless Forest beat the Gunners 4-2 in the third round as Arsene Wenger’s reign snaked to its disappointing conclusion.

Arsenal may now move slowly under Mikel Arteta, but have suffered the same fate at the City Ground to show that a lot of work is needed.

Nottingham Forest’s Lewis Grabban scored the winner against Arsenal

Forest floor Arsenal again in the third round

They struggled to find a way to get past the organized Forest, with Eddie Nketiah missing their best chance and Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka quickly closed.

Nketiah and Ben White went off target and Albert Lokonga deflected a shot to the side during a timid first half for the Gunners, all dressed in white as part of an anti-knife crime initiative.

Albert Sambi Lokonga of Arsenal reacts during the third game of the FA Cup at the City Ground
Albert Sambi Lokonga of Arsenal reacts during the third match of the FA Cup at the City Ground

Forest were more efficient in attack, even though they failed to test Bernd Leno, and Arteta’s concern was clear when he dismissed Nuno Tavares after just 34 minutes.

The defender, replaced by Kieran Tierney, endured a sloppy time during which a savage back pass nearly caught Leno. His frustrations were evident, throwing his gloves to the ground without even glancing at his manager.

He embodied the messy nature of half the Gunners: they were out of control and Forest had shown glimpses of upsetting them with their pace.

Arsenal had plenty of ball but Forest never worried during an instantly forgettable first half, which would have been good for the hosts, who quickly resumed after half-time.

They carved out their first significant chance of the match when Brennan Johnson left Cedric behind on the right and crossed for Philip Zinckernagel to test Leno.

It was then Arsenal’s turn to turn down a good chance when Saka teased Jack Colback and crossed paths for Nketiah.

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah reacts after a missed opportunity
Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah reacts after a missed opportunity

The striker had detached from Joe Worrall’s back and had a free header from six yards, but managed to miss his effort completely and sadly rolled to the side.

The game was in danger of regaining his life and James Garner’s free-kick was well saved by Leno shortly after the hour of play on Forest, but it was all too short.

Charlie Patino, on his full debut, was replaced by Alexandre Lacazette who struggled to make a constant impact, but the same can be said for his teammates, all lacking in cohesion.

It was a boring performance that belied the Gunners’ recent form. The hosts sensed their chance and when the turning point finally came with seven minutes to go it was Arsenal’s scorer.

Lewis Grabban put Nottingham Forest ahead in the second half
Lewis Grabban put Nottingham Forest ahead in the second half

Lokonga lost the ball in midfield and Yates was tucked into the far right to provide the perfect cross for Grabban to slip in and win him from six yards.

What’s next?

Forest will travel to Millwall on Saturday at 3pm, while Arsenal will face Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final in a match you can see live Sky Sport Soccer at 7.45pm.

Thursday 13 January at 19:00

Start at 7.45pm

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