Arsene Wenger has claimed he was forced into his much-changed Arsenal FA Cup selection due to the number of matches his side have played over the festive period.
The Gunners were knocked out by Nottingham Forest thanks to a shock 4-2 victory for the struggling Championship side - the first occasion that Wenger has had a team fall at the first hurdle of the prestigious domestic cup competition.
The Frenchman was rounded on by critics and Arsenal fans alike for the side he picked at the City Ground but, in quotes published by Goal, Wenger sought to defend those he had selected to feature.
He said: "That's the inevitable question that comes always in a cup game.
"We have many players on the edge. We have to play on Wednesday again. We have to play Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday and many times we have got away with it. Not today.
"You never put disappointments behind you but the only thing that can help is to focus on the next game.
Arsene Wenger, you are a joke. Why play such a weak team AND bench when this is best chance of silverware. Yes, welbeck, Theo, iwobi awful, but result lies with arrogant team selection. Pathetic.— Dan Jude (@HeyDanJude) January 7, 2018
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"It's true that we won the FA Cup three times in the last four years, so it hurts even more because it's a competition we love and that's why we are so disappointed that we weren't at the level today."
Wenger did, however, placate any possible ire from supporters over those comments but explaining that the players on show in the Midlands should have had enough about them to see off Forest.
He added: "I can understand the selection is questioned, but it would be an easy excuse and we had 8 or 9 international players on the pitch today.
"Is it a selection problem? Maybe. Is it an individual performance problem? Maybe as well."
Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck - two of the seven international players who started the game - bagged consolation goals for Arsenal as an Eric Lichaj brace and penalties from Ben Brereton and Kieran Dowell ensured a stunning win for managerless Forest.