Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest
For the first time in five years, we will begin the 2023–24 Premier League season at home when Nottingham Forest travels to north London for a noon kickoff.
Mikel Arteta will be hoping that we can continue where we left off at Wembley and have a similar start to last season, which served as the springboard for our title challenge. Last Sunday, we won the Community Shield at Wembley.
We welcome a Nottingham Forest team that last season earned the fewest points on the road in the division. Steve Cooper will be aware that his team needs to improve on away day performances if they want to avoid getting sucked into another relegation battle.
Trentside experiences a calmer summer.
Cooper is attempting to become the first Nottingham Forest manager to lead his team to consecutive victories at our expense since Brian Clough in 1978, just 84 days after his team defeated us 1-0 to secure their Premier League status.
Nottingham Forest’s summer transfer activity has been relatively quiet in comparison to the 29 first-team players they added last year. Matt Turner, who won the Community Shield with us just six days prior, joined Anthony Elanga of Manchester United at the club earlier this week. Turner is anticipated to take the field against his former team on Saturday.
Other notable newcomers include the former Chelsea defender Ola Aina [above], who joined on loan from Newcastle United, and Chris Wood, whose loan was made permanent. The biggest names leaving are Steve Cook, Jack Colback, Andre Ayew, Sam Surridge, Cafu, and Jesse Lingard.
Results on the field have been underwhelming. Of the seven friendlies they played, they only triumphed in two, victories over Notts County and Levante. In addition to losses to Valencia and PSV Eindhoven, they also suffered lopsided defeats by relegated Leeds United and Rennes, scoring just three goals all summer.
With the exception of Gabriel Jesus, who underwent surgery on his knee and is anticipated to be out for a few more weeks, and Mohamed Elneny, who is still recovering from a knee injury he sustained in January, Mikel Arteta has given the majority of his team the all-clear.
This suggests that Oleksandr Zincheko, who missed the Wembley victory last week due to an injury, as well as Jorginho, who missed it due to a knock, could make their preseason debuts.
The end-of-last-season striker Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored the game-winning goal against us in May while in hot form, is expected to miss out due to an ankle injury that he has not yet fully recovered. For center-back Moussa Niakhate, whose dislocated shoulder hasn’t completely healed, this game also comes too soon.
Brennan Johnson, who is expected to play despite having ankle surgery after suffering it while representing Wales earlier this summer, has joined the pair in practice. Due to a knee issue, defender Felipe is currently sidelined.
Cooper loves to keep opposition managers guessing when it comes to formations, but towards the conclusion of the previous season, a solid 3-4-2-1 designed to counterattack proved to be Forest’s most consistent tactical gimmick, according to Adrian Clarke, who wrote in the official matchday program.
They typically don’t mind giving up possession in exchange for it, dropping into their own half in a disciplined formation and attempting to force errors that lead to breakaways. No top-flight team had less possession on average last season (37.9%) or completed fewer passes inside the opponent’s half (46.3% per 90 minutes) than the East Midlanders.
When possession changes hands, they immediately shift from back to front, releasing Dangermen Johnson or Morgan Gibbs-White as soon as possible.
Nottingham Forest, on the other hand, lost all but one of their away league games last year due to a league-high average of 2-point 3 goals per game. That, plus 16 set-piece concessions across the campaign, hurt them badly.
Stats and Facts
Since a 3-1 loss in March 1989, we have gone unbeaten against Nottingham Forest in our last nine home league games (W5 D4). We won 2-1 in our opening match of the 1998–1999 season, one of those nine unbeaten games.
With the exception of a 1-0 win at Newcastle United in 2019/20, we have begun each of the past 12 Premier League seasons in London. This is our first home opener since losing 2-0 to Manchester City in 2018/19.
Nottingham Forest have lost their first league game in each of the previous four seasons, and have never done so in five consecutive seasons.
With just one victory in 19 games, Cooper’s team earned fewer points away from home than any other Premier League team in 2022–23 (only 8). They did, however, net more goals in their final four away contests (6) than they did in their first 15 games of the previous campaign (5).
Gabriel Martinelli started the scoring in our 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest last season and has three goals in two home games against them in all competitions.
Since his debut in January, Leandro Trossard has given us with 10 Premier League assists, more than any other player in the league.
Previous visits from Forest
Forest made their first-ever trip at Emirates Stadium last season, but it was Reiss Nelson’s day, as he came off the bench to score twice in a 5-0 win in October, with Martinelli, Thomas Partey, and Martin Odegaard all scoring.
It had been 23 years since their previous visit to N5 when Arsene Wenger’s reigning Double holders won 2-1 thanks to goals from Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars.
During the Reds’ Premier League exile, we did meet four times in cup competitions, but only once on our own turf. That occurred in September 2019, when we won the League Cup 5-0, with Martinelli scoring his first goals for the Gunners, as well as Rob Holding, Joe Willock, and Nelson. His first goal for us came against them as well, in a 5-0 League Cup victory in September 2019.