Mertesacker blasts Arsenal players who wasted ‘last chance’

Matt Stead

Per Mertesacker says that no fringe player “justified their selection” for Arsenal against Nottingham Forest.

FA Cup holders Mertesacker were dumped out of the competition at the first hurdle this season, losing 4-2 to Championship side Forest.

The Gunners made nine changes but still boasted a starting XI featuring seven internationals.

Yet Forest completely deserved their victory on Sunday, and Mertesacker, who scored in the defeat, says his teammates have wasted “their last chance” to impress Arsene Wenger.

“The players who didn’t play a lot recently, no one justified their selection,” Mertesacker said. “That sums it up, I think.

“It was difficult. In the first half, we played ‘in the park’ a little bit ‑ we were not precise, especially in the final third. We couldn’t get a lot of chances. Second half, there was a little bit more spirit from ourselves but they outbattled us.

“The momentum never really changed apart from when we scored for 3-2 and he miskicked the penalty. Obviously, we expressed it to the referee but he didn’t listen.

“It is difficult to take because for those players who played it was probably their last chance to show up and show the manager that they are ready to play more games. It is not the case any more.”