Per Mertesacker says some players have failed with their final chance to convince Arsene Wenger that they’re worthy of a place in the team, following the 4-2 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.
It’s the first time in the manager’s reign that he’s lost a third round tie, and on the day the Gunners were found wanting from front to back.
The club captain had a difficult day himself, despite scoring an equalising goal, and he suggested there were others who will continue to find themselves on the margins after their performances.
“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,” said Mertesacker.
“In the first half we played in the park a little bit. We were not precise, especially in the final third. We couldn’t create a lot of chances.
“In the second half there was a little bit more spirit from ourselves, but in the duels you could see that they out-battled us and that little momentum never really changed.
“When we scored to make it 3-2 and when he miskicked the penalty, obviously we expressed it to the ref but he didn’t listen.
“It’s difficult to take because for those players who played today, that was probably a last chance to show up and show the manager that they’re ready to play more games.
“It’s not the case anymore.”
Hard to argue with any of that, and while the players didn’t perform, the buck can only stop in one place and that’s with the manager who buys them, coaches them, and instructs them.
And the fact that Arsenal still have the Carabao Cup and the Europa League to play for was no consolation for the German who has won the FA Cup three times in his Arsecast career.
“But we wanted the FA Cup,” he said. “This feels like we had to defend it, but you couldn’t see that we really wanted to defend it. This round is always the toughest.
“You face a Championship side away and you need to be ready but for the majority of the game, we were not.”