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Wenger's unnecessary gamble backfired

Arsene Wenger is known for fielding weakened sides in cup competitions. He only just escaped heavy criticism after Fabianski shockingly came off his line to allow a golden opportunity for Hull City to take certain FA Cup victory away from Arsenal in 2014, one case of many in which he has frustratingly been able to justify his decision to play a lesser quality team. On Sunday however, Wenger’s luck ran out, and it was to the pain of all Arsenal fans.

    Nottingham Forest are currently 14th in the Championship, not an impressive position, and one that is embarrassing to Arsenal. However, this is not a non-league opponent, and to treat them with such disrespect in a team selection is to the shame of Arsene Wenger.

    Arsenal fielded a better side against Sutton United - a team without any professional footballers - than against Forest - a team with highly competent players and a rich history of high standard football. Alexis Sanchez was brought on from the bench against Sutton, whereas against Forest, the best player on the sidelines was Calum Chambers, who has appeared in the Premier League just three times this season. It was a perfect recipe for disaster, concocted by the unnecessary gamble of Arsene Wenger, who, while serving his dish, ejected his club from the only cup that is both winnable and respectable for Arsenal this season.

    Perhaps it is unreasonable to place the blame entirely on the feet of Wenger. The quality of Arsenal’s line-up, albeit heavily weakened, should still have been too much for their opponents.

    Sixty-nine per cent possession is telling of the domination without conversion, as is the 29 per cent shot accuracy to Forest’s 75 per cent. But football isn’t just a game of stats.

    The lack of experience and leadership in the side was evident from the start, and without a familiar game=plan or chemistry within the side, Arsenal were in limbo, aimlessly following the ball and conceding goals.

    Wenger treated this game as a friendly, playing an inexperienced and unfamiliar side in order to give the youngsters an opportunity to impress on the big stage. But this wasn’t a friendly without consequences, it was an FA Cup tie (as I was constantly reminded by the television commentators) with the repercussion of an empty trophy cabinet at the end of the season.

    Needless to say, the players did not impress, leaving me and Arsenal fans all over the world, rather depressed.

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