Premier League • England

Arteta questions Arsenal mentality as five major weaknesses blamed; Tavares substitution explained

Jonny Whitfield
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta speaking to the press

Mikel Arteta admitted that Arsenal deserved nothing more than to exit the FA Cup to Nottingham Forest because of their poor approach to the game.

The Gunners crashed out of the cup in the third round to Forest for the second time in recent seasons on Sunday. Following a 4-2 win over Arsenal in 2018, the Midlands club struck again.

This time, though, Arsenal were worse going forward. They did not have a shot on target, let alone get on the scoresheet.

Bukayo Saka looked lively on the right flank, but failed to really threaten. Eddie Nketiah, meanwhile, missed two chances to put the visitors in front.

In the end, Forest substitute Lewis Grabban scored the winner eight minutes of time to send the City Ground fans wild.

“We weren’t good enough on the day and we are out of the competition. It is really disappointing and we have to apologise for it,” Arteta told ITV Sport.

“[We lacked] drive, quality, conviction. [There were] too many errors, too many giveaways in very dangerous areas and that capacity to mentally approach the game or change it and adapt it and find a way to win, which we didn’t.”

As well as having no shots on target, Arsenal – and full-back Nuno Tavares in particular – struggled defensively.

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Arteta replaced the summer signing with Kieran Tierney after only 34 minutes. Tavares reacted angrily, showing his frustration towards Arteta.

The manager said: “It’s a decision that you have to make in certain moments to try to improve the performance of the team and that’s what I did.”

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Arteta came into the match with nine players out for various reasons.

However, he refused to use that as an excuse, insisting that his side had the quality to do better.

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Mikel Arteta Arsenal

“I don’t want to use excuses. The team I put out there, I expected them to play better and to compete better than we have today and we haven’t done it,” the Spaniard said.

“When you don’t do it in the cup against any opponent, you are out.

“What we have done today is nowhere near the level and standards that are required.”

Arteta then dodged a question asking if the FA Cup loss showed he needed investment in his team.

“Today showed that we weren’t capable of winning against Forest in the cup away from home and we weren’t good enough to put in a performance where we deserved to win the game,” he said.

Arsenal return to action on Thursday when facing Liverpool in the rearranged first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.