Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Timber, Partey, Rice, Odegaard, Havertz, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah
Subs: Hein, Tomiyasu, Kiwior, Gabriel, Jorginho, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Vieira, Trossard
Arsenal opened the Premier League season with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest thanks to goals from Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka.
Mikel Arteta started all three summer signings, but surprisingly left Gabriel on the bench for tactical reasons, ending his run of consecutive 73 Premier League starts. Thomas Partey began the game at right back.
The game itself was delayed due to a failure in the club’s new ticketing system leaving tens of thousands of fans outside unable to access the stadium – a 30 minute delay meant a 1pm start.
The Gunners started brightly with lots of early possession against a Forest side that sat deep and stayed compact. With 90% possession it was one way traffic for Arteta’s men, but the visitors had the best chance of the game in the 11th minute when Brennan Johnson beat the offside trap and went through with just Ramsdale to beat – thankfully he put his effort over the bar.
It was tough going for Arsenal, Forest sat 11 men behind the ball all the time, but in the 26th minute we found a way through. Brilliant work from Martinelli saw him take the ball down the left hand side, he did a roulette beyond two defenders, it came to Eddie who took it on, stepped inside, then fired home between the legs of a defender and beyond Matt Turner. 1-0.
Six minutes later and the lead was doubled. Forest were careless at the back, we won the ball, Saliba played to Saka, he took a touch across the box, then curled an unstoppable shot beyond the keeper and into the net. 2-0.
Rice tested Turner with a shot from distance but the former Arsenal man was equal to it, Timber picked up a booking in first half injury time for a foul on Johnson, and picked up in injury in the process too. but the Gunners were good value for the half-time lead.
There were no changes at the break from either manager, but we had to make a sub early in the second period when Timber went down again. It was one of those where he had nobody near him, worryingly it seems as if it was linked to the previous injury. He was replaced in the 50th minute by Takehiro Tomiyasu.
The Japan international was immediately in the action, firing in a shot from distance but it didn’t trouble Turner. At the other end Ramsdale made a save from Yates but the flag went up for offside, and the game was quite flat in general.
Aina saw a shot deflect wide for a corner, before Forest had to make changes to try and get back into it, sending on Williams and Ayoniwi for Aina and Danilo. Arteta responded by putting on Leandro Trossard for Nketiah.
Havertz created a chance for Rice which saw the midfielder draw a super stop from Tuner, tipping the deflected shot onto the post. At the other end, Rice did well to prevent Boly getting full power on a header from a corner, before Forest made another change as Elanga replaced Johnson.
Mangala was booked for a foul on Odegaard, Rice had another chance but didn’t make great contact, but from the resulting corner Forest scored a counter-attack goal through Awoniyi to make it 2-1.
There was another chance instantly when Gibbs-White fired over, and Arsenal seemed a bit rattled. Gabriel came on to replace Martinelli, Saka almost caught Turner with a flicked finish after good work from Odegaard and Havertz, and Forest made two more changes as the game entered 6 mins of added time.
White was booked for not taking a throw quickly enough, and it was nervy stuff in the elongated injury time. There was a late Forest free kick from which they fired over, Odegaard shot over as we broke upfield, and in the end the final whistle went and we begin with three points.