Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Wenger, Arsenal come under fire after crashing out of FA Cup

2 Comments

It was a day for the ages for Nottingham Forest, and for that reason Arsene Wenger is in hot water once again with his club’s fanbase.

Arsenal fell 4-2 to Championship side Nottingham on Sunday, leaving the Gunners to fall out of this year’s FA Cup competition in the third round — the earliest a Wenger side has ever lost.

[ MORE: Forest stuns Arsenal in FA Cup action, Tottenham rolls ]

The French manager, who sat in the stands for the match as part of his FA sanctions, made nine changes coming into the clash against Forest, including the absences of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

“We had a very difficult schedule, many players were on the edge and we play again on Wednesday,” Wenger said post match. “It was nearly impossible not to make [changes]. I can understand that the selection is questioned, but it would also be a little bit of an easy excuse because we had eight or nine experienced international players on the pitch today. Even against a Championship team, we played with all the respect and that would be the wrong excuse.”

Arsenal’s inconsistency has been a trend throughout this season though, with the club currently boasting just two wins in their last eight Premier League matches. The Gunners sit sixth in the league table, 23 points off the pace set by league leaders Manchester City.

There’s no questioning that the change in lineups affected the flow of the team’s play, particularly in the attack, which managed just four shots on target throughout the match.

Danny Welbeck — who scored Arsenal’s second goal — was gifted the finish by Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith’s blunder with 11 minutes remaining.

“I wouldn’t like to talk about the individual performances today because it’s disappointing that we lost the game,” Wenger told the media. “That’s all I can say. There are some days where you have to say, ‘Nottingham Forest were better than us’. Unfortunately that was the case. Of course that was disappointing and on top of that we have another big game on Wednesday. We have to focus on that now.”

Overall, Wenger was quite disappointed by the result, particularly given Arsenal’s success in the competition over recent years.

“It hurts very much,” Wenger said. “We’ve won the FA Cup three times in the last four years. On the other end, we don’t win the FA Cup every year. It’s a difficult competition to win. Of course it hurts very much to go out in the third round.”

Video: Fekir’s brilliant free kick has Lyon leading PSG

AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
Leave a comment

Paris-Saint Germain has established itself as one of Europe’s best sides, but their opponent on Sunday isn’t playing scared against Neymar and Co.

[ MORE: Spurs, Saints play to 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s ]

Lyon has taken a 1-0 lead inside the opening two minutes against the Parisians after a stunning free kick by Nabil Fekir caught PSG keeper Alphonse Aréola off his line.

The hosts could move all the way up to second place today with a victory over PSG, who holds the league lead in Ligue 1 with a nine-point advantage.

The 24-year-old Fekir has been a revelation for Lyon in his fifth season with the club, scoring his 19th goal in all competitions on Sunday.

That total has already surpassed his career-high from the 2014/15 season, when he eclipsed 15 goals.

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie injured in Schalke draw

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Leave a comment

Look away, U.S. Men’s National Team fans.

American and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie was forced out of Sunday’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw against Hanover 96 after the 19-year-old collided with Felix Kraus.

McKennie, who entered the match in the 62nd minute for Leon Goretzka, managed to stay on the field for nearly 20 minutes before being substituted out.

To this point there has been no indication that the young USMNT player’s injury is serious.

More to follow…

Watford announces Gracia as Silva replacement

Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watford’s replacement for fired manager Marco Silva is indeed veteran Spanish boss Javi Gracia.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

The Hornets announced the 47-year-old’s hiring on Sunday, hours after firing Silva and blaming Everton’s pursuit of the manager for the club’s fall from European contender to the fringe of a relegation battle.

Watford is still four points clear of the drop following Southampton’s draw with Spurs on Sunday.

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Pochettino on sloppy Spurs draw, dismisses Malcom “rumor”

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Leave a comment

Mauricio Pochettino knows St. Mary’s well, and the ex-Southampton boss has managed a rainy, sloppy match or three there in the past.

[ RECAP: Saints 1-1 Spurs ]

So he knows it’s possible to play well in those circumstances, leaving him feeling like Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday was a wasted opportunity against a struggling Saints side.

“It is temporary that Southampton are in the relegation zone, for sure they will push up the table,” Pochettino said. “It is two points we are going to miss at the end of the season because it is so tough between six or seven teams.”

[ MORE: Bertrand reacts to draw ]

So why couldn’t Spurs find their foothold? Well, aside from sickness keeping Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris out of the lineup, a bug that may’ve affected more on the team, Spurs just weren’t up to snuff.

“We struggled to play,” Pochettino said. “It was in possession, we made mistakes which allowed them to play. To win the game we should do better and play better. It wasn’t great.

Pochettino was also asked about Spurs’ reported pursuit of 20-year-old Bordeaux star Malcom, who has seven goals and five assists in Ligue 1 this season.

“That is a rumor and I don’t want to speak about it. I am happy with our squad. We are open to quality players but you know very well it is difficult in this transfer window.”