Arsenal 5-0 Nottingham Forest: Understudy Nelson shines in dominant five-star Gunners performance
Arsenal regained leadership of the Premier League table after running out emphatic 5-0 winners over Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
Until yesterday, the Gunners went 43 consecutive days sitting first, but they were knocked off their perch when Manchester City produced a 1-0 win at Leicester, but Pep Guardiola’s defending champions’ stay on top ended up being a temporary affair with the gap returning to a slender two points with each team having now played 12 times but yet to face each other.
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That first encounter takes place following the World Cup finals by then Mikel Arteta will be aiming to sustain Arsenal’s impressive start as they seek to end a 19-year championship drought. Being able to field a consistent starting eleven greatly helps, this subsequently allows chemistry to grow, and the results were for all to see in Gabriel Martinelli’s opener.
Arsenal — who under Arteta’s stewardship consistently press high up the pitch — won possession in the attacking third. Martinelli would then feed Saka, before getting on the end of his cross. Saka, consequently, became the third-youngest player to reach 20 Premier League assists (21y 55d), behind only Cesc Fabregas (19y 352d) and Wayne Rooney (20y 300d). That effort, which came in the fifth minute, meant they’ve now scored five goals in the opening quarter of the first half, which is more than any other Premier League side has managed this season.
It also saw Martinelli break a personal five-game scoring drought. In the bigger picture, though, he’s now contributed to goals in his last four home games in the English top-flight (three goals and two assists). Martinelli also strengthened his position as their leading marksman with five goals. Unfortunately, not long after that go-ahead goal Saka, their major creative force this season (five assists), went off with a suspected ankle injury which he looked to have sustained following a robust challenge from Renan Lodi in the opening minute.
Reiss Nelson, whose last Premier League minutes came in a 19-minute cameo at Brentford on the opening day of last season, replaced Saka on the right flank and picked up the slack by registering a brace early into the second half. Incredibly, there were two years and 107 days between Nelson’s first and second goals in the Premier League, and just 3 minutes and one second between his third and second.
⚡️ Quick off the mark
😍 @gabimartinelli pic.twitter.com/Jeir3AiDmd
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 30, 2022
Nelson, who became the first Englishman to score a brace as a substitute for Arsenal in a Premier League game, wasn’t done yet as he teed up Thomas Partey for another stunning long-range effort. A carbon copy of his goal against Tottenham at the start of this month. Martin Ødegaard, who has been relatively quiet in recent outings, rounded off a ruthless display with a brilliant finish high into the net. The scoreline truthfully flattered the visitors as the Gunners were in control throughout, aside from a brief scare before half-time when Gabriel gifted the ball to Jesse Lingard — who once described the Emirates Stadium as his “dance floor” — in the box but his effort was blocked excellently by Ben White.
Ødegaard’s strike was the 28th goal Forest conceded in 13 games, which means they are the joint-highest conceders along with Bournemouth, and the most they’ve let in at this stage of a league campaign since 1960/61 (31 goals conceded). More concerning is the fact after spending big in the summer the newly-promoted side find themselves rock bottom albeit three points adrift of safety. Morgan Gibbs-White and the aforementioned Lingard who arrived to much fanfare have disappointed to date. Their concerns are not Arteta’s to worry about. Instead, the Spaniard could be on the cusp of creating something brilliant.
Prior to getting this season underway, claiming a top-four spot and ending the club’s long absence from the Champions League was his objective, but those expectations have undoubtedly changed given their grandstand start though he’s understandably keeping his feet grounded. Next up is a small matter of a London derby against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.