Arsenal’s lack of depth exposed with Arteta ‘hurting’ after throwback


very Premier League squad is being stretched to the limit, but Arsenal are being tested at the worst possible time.

It is only the second time in the past 26 seasons that Arsenal have been knocked out of the competition in the third round. The other occasion was back in 2018, when they were also beaten by Forest.

The Championship side were worthy winners yesterday and Arsenal — who have won the FA Cup a record 14 times — now face a crucial 10 days in which they face Liverpool over two legs in the Carabao Cup semi-final and visit Tottenham in a north London derby.

Mikel Arteta will know his side cannot afford to perform as poorly as they did at the City Ground last night.

“It’s really hurting,” he said. “It’s a competition that is related to our history and to go out of it is a big bump. [We needed] more drive, more hunger to win at any cost in every single action. We were not at our level.”

Arteta made seven changes, three of them out of choice, from the side who went toe to toe with Manchester City on New Year’s Day, and the drop-off in quality was clear to see.

Arsenal have earned plenty of plaudits in recent weeks for their attacking and adventurous style, but this was a throwback to ponderous performances that had been starting to feel like a thing of the past. The fact they failed to register a shot on target summed up a toothless display.

The contrast between this defeat and the loss to City was stark, with the performance of Arteta’s full-backs being the biggest difference. Left-back Nuno Tavares was hooked after 35 minutes, throwing his gloves on the ground in anger, but on the other flank Cedric Soares could have had no complaints if he had been hauled off much earlier than the 90th minute.

Nuno Tavares was hauled off after only 35 minutes at the City Ground on Sunday night


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