Arsenal became the highest-profile casualties of the FA Cup third round as the 14-time winners lost 1-0 at Nottingham Forest, but Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur avoided early exits after scares against lower-league sides on Sunday.
Forest repeated their third-round win over Arsenal in 2018 thanks to substitute Lewis Grabban’s 83rd-minute finish.
Liverpool came from a goal down to win 4-1 against third-tier Shrewsbury Town, while Tottenham trailed until the 74th minute at home to third-tier Morecambe before winning 3-1.
A lacklustre Arsenal failed to muster a shot on target and could have no complaints about only their second third-round defeat in 26 seasons.
Forest more than matched their visitors and Grabban, surprisingly left on the bench at the start, made a huge impact as he stretched out a leg to convert a Ryan Yates cross and seal a fourth-round Midlands derby against top-flight Leicester City.
“I’m really proud of the boys, pleased with the performance. It’s brilliant to get through and I hope the players now really believe in what we’re doing,” said Forest boss Steve Cooper.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta offered a frank assessment.
“They won, they scored a goal and we didn’t. We were not good enough and we have to apologise for it,” he said.
Liverpool started with few first-team regulars and five youngsters and were behind in the 27th minute when Daniel Udoh slid in Nathanael Ogbeta’s cross from close range.
Teenaged winger Kaide Gordon equalised seven minutes later with a calm finish and Fabinho gave Liverpool the lead just before halftime from the penalty spot.
Substitute Roberto Firmino scored with a brilliant backheel in the 78th minute and Fabinho wrapped it up with his second goal in stoppage time, blasting in from a tight angle.
“When you get the first goal against you, so many things can happen but I liked the way we responded,” manager Juergen Klopp, who returned to the touchline after his recovery from COVID-19, told the BBC.
Shrewsbury manager Steve Cotterill said: “I don’t think it was a 4-1 game. But, once they got the third goal we probably weren’t going to get back into the game, being a realist.”