On Sunday night the FA Cup sprinkled some of its magic over West Bridgeford, with Nottingham Forest roaring to victory over 14-time champions Arsenal.
The City Ground was electric and when Lewis Grabban tapped in Ryan Yates’ cross to give Forest the lead with seven minutes of normal time remaining an upset was on the cards.
The Gunners – who have been flying high in the Premier League – never looked up to the challenge posted by a Forest side, full of energy.
The FA Cup Third Round had already proved to be difficult for top-flight club Newcastle United, who lost at home to Cambridge United. So, going into Sunday with Forest being at home against an unpredictable Arsenal line up due to Covid and injuries, it was anyone’s guess as to how this one would unfold.
The atmosphere pre-match was already lively and being a later kick off it was inevitable the atmosphere would only get more hostile going into the game. Arsenal brought a massive contingent with them receiving extra tickets to fill out the entire Lower Bridgford Stand. This certainly helped with the players being greeted to a chorus of noise when they came out for kick off.
With an electric atmosphere on the Sunday late afternoon and being live on ITV1, the whole country would have witnessed the cup upset. Forest played a very strong side with two debutants and January signings, making their first appearances for the reds this season. Steve Cook slotted into the heart of the Forest three-man defence alongside Joe Worral and Scott McKenna. Keinan Davis was upfront. Both had very good games with Davis causing all kinds of problems for the Arsenal defenders.
Forest was solid and resolute in their defensive display, condensing space and not allowing Arsenal to get any kind of real momentum in the game. The first half was limited in terms of real opportunities for both sides, however it was clear that Forest were in the ascendency and looked the most likely to score. The Reds were always going to be labelled with the tag of underdogs and would have been satisfied with their first-half performance keeping Arsenal at arm’s length and never really looking in any danger to concede.
The second half saw Forest having a gilt-edge chance falling to Philip Zinckernagel after good work from Brennan Johnson on the right cutting back a ball and forcing a save out of Leno.
Arsenal had their chance with Eddie Nketiah missing from 5 yards out, misdirecting the header completely. It was after this that the Reds finally took advantage of a wayward Arsenal performance.
Yates put in a delightful ball across the 6-yard box and Grabban converted in front of the Trent End to set the Forest faithful into delirium. After that goal went it, the roof came off and the crowd was elevated with the occasion of beating Arsenal again.
Twice in four years Forest have felled Arsenal at the City Ground. There were many standout performers for Forest but once again we saw a truly talented Djed Spece shine, it just goes to show how important he is to Forest and the team.
FA Cup holders, Leicester City are the next opponents for Nottingham Forest with a mouth-watering game and East-Midlands’s derby in prospect. This amazing victory is just one of the things to be excited about as a Forest fan and with the leadership of Steve Cooper, the future is looking promising for this historic football club.