U.S. international scores twice as second-division Nottingham Forest knocks Arsenal out of FA Cup

U.S. international Eric Lichaj scored twice as Nottingham Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. (Omnisport)
U.S. international Eric Lichaj scored twice as Nottingham Forest knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. (Omnisport)

Arsenal has won the FA Cup three of the past four seasons, but the Gunners won’t win it again this year.

American international Eric Lichaj scored twice from his right back spot and Nottingham Forest converted a pair of second-half penalties to beat Arsenal 4-2 at the City Ground on Sunday.

Lichaj has scored just four times for Forest since joining the club in 2013 from Aston Villa, and never outside of the League Cup. The way he looked in the first half against Arsenal, you’d think he was a seasoned goal-scorer.

The opening salvo came in the 20th minute, when Lichaj thundered home a high header off a free kick by Kieran Dowell:

After Per Mertesacker equalized for Arsenal three minutes later, Lichaj demonstrated an exquisite bit of skill just before halftime when he chested a poor header clearance at the top of the box and placed a perfect right-footed volley into the corner of the net:

It’s been that kind of year for Lichaj, who scored his first goal for the United States in the Gold Cup quarterfinals last summer. He couldn’t quite track down a third goal on Sunday, which is a shame because his wife was ready to offer him an adorable reward if he had:

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger watched the game from the stands, serving the first of a three-game touchline ban stemming from abuse of the referees in a draw at West Brom on New Year’s Eve.

In truth, Wenger set up his side to fail, with no first-team regulars in the Starting XI and no real reinforcements off the bench, with stars like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette not even traveling with the team.

That in itself is by no means a crime, but it did mean Arsenal might suffer to find answers if its starters struggled. And struggle they did, none more so than Rob Holding on the left side of the defensive back three.

Holding gave away a bad penalty in the 64th minute, sticking his leg out blindly for a ball and tripping Forest’s Matthew Cash. Ben Brereton sent Gunners keeper David Ospina the wrong way to push the lead to 3-1.

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Danny Welbeck pulled one back for Arsenal on a mistake by Forest keeper Jordan Smith, but the Gunners conceded a second penalty a few minutes later when Mathieu Debuchy foolishly tackled Armand Traore from behind in the box.

Dowell converted the penalty, but he slipped while doing so and appeared to touch the ball twice on his kick, and therefore the penalty should not have counted.

Despite Arsenal’s vigorous protests, it amounted to nothing more than the latest bit of questionable officiating Wenger can use to excuse his side’s boorish underperformance. The FA Cup is the only competition Arsenal has won since it last won the Premier League in 2004.

Nottingham Forest has some impressive history of its own, having won the European Cup in back-to-back seasons in 1979 and 1980 under legendary manager Brian Clough and stars like Peter Shilton and John McGovern.

The Forest supporters made sure Arsenal knew it:

The Gunners won’t sing about winning the FA Cup again this year, either.

Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.