Per Mertesacker
Mertesacker receives a booking following his protest of Forest's fourth goal Getty

Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker has slammed his teammates for their display against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

The defending champions crashed out in the third round of the competition for the first time under manager Arsene Wenger following a 4-2 loss at the City Ground on Sunday (7 January).

Eric Lichaj gave the home side a lead before Mertesacker equalised just a few minutes later. Lichaj put Forest in front again before a Ben Brereton penalty made it 3-1 to the hosts.

Arsenal were able to peg one goal back through Danny Welbeck to set up an exciting finale, however, the visitors conceded another penalty which controversially stood despite Kieran Dowell seemingly double-touching the ball as he scored Forest's fourth goal.

"You couldn't see that we really wanted to defend it," Mertesacker was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"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."

Wenger is currently serving a three-match touchline ban and had made wholesale changes to his team following the 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

But even with a second string team, the Gunners were expected to progress to the fourth round and Mertesacker believes the players did not justify the manager's team selection.

"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," Mertesacker added.

"That sums it up I think. 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."

The north London side still remain in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, where they will face Chelsea next on Wednesday (10 January) in the first-leg of their semi-final at Stamford Bridge.