Per Mertesacker says nobody justified Arsene Wenger’s faith in them against Nottingham Forest, as the fringe players were almost universally disappointing.
Mertesacker spoke to the press after the game, to try and explain how the Gunners lost 4-2 to a struggling and managerless Championship side.
“It’s pretty easy. The manager made a lot of changes, gave a lot of trust to players who haven’t played a lot recently and I don’t think anybody justified their selection today. That sums it up I think.”
Hopefully the 33-year-old is sufficiently self-aware that he knows he’s included in the list of disappointing players as well. The centre-back scored Arsenal’s opening goal, but the Forest attackers walked all over him for most of the match.
The same was true for his partner Rob Holding, who hit the post, but then gave away a poor penalty. But Arsenal were poor all over the pitch.
Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott weren’t threatening at all against a Championship defence. The former only scored his goal when the goalkeeper dropped the ball at his feet. Alex Iwobi, Joe Willock and Mohamed Elneny didn’t help either, as they created one chance combined in 90 minutes.
Mathieu Debuchy didn’t complete any of his six crosses, and lost 11 of his 16 duels. David Ospina should’ve been more awake for the first goal, although you couldn’t blame him for the penalties. In short, Per is right, no one really lived up to expectations.
I would just like to give a brief mention to Reiss Nelson though. Surrounded by players playing terribly, he put in a decent performance.
The 18-year-old created four chances, as many as the entire rest of the team combined. He also won 13 of his 19 duels, and completed six of his seven attempted dribbles. Hopefully, the performance of the rest of the team hasn’t killed his first-team chances.