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Arsenal 2-1 Nottingham Forest: Match report, player ratings, fan reaction and more

All the action and reaction from a nervy win at the Emirates Stadium

A stunning goal from Bukayo Saka helped Arsenal open up their account for the season with a nervy 2-1 win over a sorry Nottingham Forest side in front of an expectant home crowd.

The Gunners, who saw their title challenge fade at the end of last season, head into the new campaign with a renewed sense of expectation thanks both to their achievements last season and their significant outlay over the summer.

A delayed start to the game thanks to a ticketing problem was mirrored by a slow beginning to the game from Mikel Arteta’s side, who could have found themselves behind only for Brennan Johnson to fire over with just Aaron Ramsdale to beat.

Midway through the first half, however, a moment of magic from Gabriel Martinelli unlocked a resilient Forest side. Spinning between two defenders, he found Eddie Nketiah, who fired home via a healthy deflection.

Minutes later, they had doubled their lead, with poster boy Bukayo Saka curling an excellent strike past Matt Turner from just outside the area after Morgan Gibbs-White lost the ball cheaply.

Arsenal looked to be well in control of things in the second half, and could have added to their lead as Declan Rice twice went close. Though they dominated the ball, Turner was rarely tested and the game was blown wide open as Taiwo Awoniyi finished off a brilliant counter-attacking move to pull one back for Nottingham Forest with their first shot of the half.

Player ratings

Arsenal

  • GK: Aaron Ramsdale (6)
  • RB: Thomas Partey (7) – Spent most of the game playing in central midfield but his movement left a space for
  • CB: Ben White (6.5)
  • CB: William Saliba (6)
  • LB: Jurrien Timber (6) – Had very little to do but went down with a worrying looking injury in the first half and again just after half time before being substituted.
  • DM: Declan Rice (8) – Fitted into Arsenal’s system like a glove and already looks to be a leader on the pitch for Mikel Arteta’s side.
  • CM: Martin Odegaard (7) – Continued to do excellent work in tight spaces without a goal or assist to show for it. A vital cog in Arsenal’s side.
  • CM: Kai Havertz (6) – Quiet but tidy on the ball in his new midfield role.
  • RW: Bukayo Saka (8) – Opened his Arsenal account in some style and worked hard defensively in another all-round top performance from Arsenal’s star man.
  • ST: Eddie Nketiah (7) – Led the line well in Gabriel Jesus’ absence and took his goal excellently despite the slight deflection.
  • LW: Gabriel Martinelli (8) – A livewire who ignited the first half with a wonderful bit of skill. Faded in the second half but remained a threat.

Substitutes

  • Takehiro Tomiyasu (6) – Solid enough when he came on for Timber
  • Leandro Trossard (7) – Bright when he came on and must be wondering what he needs to do to start a game.
  • Gabriel (5) – Came on late on to sure up the game, but gave away a foul in a dangerous area which could have proved costly.

Nottingham Forest

  • GK: Matt Turner (5) – His debut against his former club didn’t go to plan, but there was little that Turner could have done and made an excellent save from Declan Rice in the second half.
  • RWB: Serge Aurier (6) – Received no love for his former Tottenham connections but defended well against Martinelli for the most part.
  • CB: Joe Worrall (5) – Couldn’t get himself out of the way of the ball for the first goal and almost had a repeat offence when a Declan Rice shot took a nick off him on its way towards goal.
  • CB: Wily Boly (6) – Defended well for the most part, but could maybe have done better with a chance of his own in the second half.
  • CB: Scott McKenna (5)
  • LWB: Ola Aina (5) – Struggled to deal with Bukayo Saka and was booked for a nasty challenge in the first half. A tough debut for the Nigerian.
  • CM: Orel Mangala (5) – Didn’t see much of the ball but worked hard to keep Arsenal’s creative players quiet.
  • CM: Ryan Yates (5) – See above
  • CM: Danilo (6)
  • ST: Brennan Johnson (5) – Missed a great chance to hand Forest the lead
  • ST: Morgan Gibbs-White (5) – Lost the ball far too easily for Arsenal’s second goal. Suffocated going forwards.

Substitutes

  • Taiwo Awoniyi (7) – Scored an excellent strikers goal and offered the most threat of any of Nottingham Forest’s attacking corps.
  • Nico Williams (6) – Came on to little effect.
  • Anthony Elanga (7) – Made an excellent start to his Forest career with a brilliant counter-attack to find a surprise goal for Forest.
  • Chris Wood (N/A) – Came on in added time.
  • Cheick Kouyate (N/A) – Came on in added time.

Expert analysis

Fan Reaction

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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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