Arsenal’s FA Cup defense ended at the first hurdle with a shock 4-2 loss at second-tier side Nottingham Forest on Sunday as Arsene Wenger’s decision to rest stars backfired.
It was the first time since taking charge of Arsenal in 1996 that Wenger has been eliminated in the third round of the competition, which his team has won in three of the last four seasons. Wenger was forced to watch from the stands in Nottingham as he started a three-match touchline ban for misconduct toward a referee.
Eric Lichaj scored twice for Forest in the first half before Ben Brereton and Kieran Dowell both netted penalties after the break.
“My wife told me that if I get a hat trick any time during the year, then I get a dog so I was trying to get the penalty,” said Lichaj, an American defender.
Forest, which is 14th in the second-tier League Championship, last played in the Premier League in 1999.
During its heyday, the central England team won the top division in 1978 and stunned the continent by winning back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980 under Brian Clough. It last reached the FA Cup final in 1991 when it lost to Tottenham.