Arsenal clobbers Nottingham Forest; Bukayo Saka injured early
Arsenal hammered Nottingham Forest 5-0 on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium but the big win came at a potentially significant cost.
England and Arsenal star Bukayo Saka subbed off the pitch before the half-hour mark, having assisted Gabriel Martinelli’s opener before going down with an apparent leg injury.
Reiss Nelson had a brilliant day in Saka’s place, scoring twice before assisting Thomas Partey. Martin Odegaard also got on the score sheet in front of a joyous home crowd, while Gabriel Jesus had two assists in the win that pushed the Gunners back ahead of Man City for the Premier League lead.
As for Nottingham Forest, the shock upset of Liverpool is gone as is the defensively-sound presence the Tricky Trees had against the Anfield set at the City Ground. Forest sits 20th with nine points, three off 17th place.
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What we learned from Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest
Feel-good Nelson flexes depth after Saka injury: Yes, there’s the full nelson, the half-nelson, and now the feel-good Nelson. The Arsenal academy boyhood prodigy would’ve felt his growth slowed by loan stints to Hoffenheim and Feyenoord. Boy will he -- and the rest of the world outside of Nottingham -- feel good at a brace off the bench. Bukayo Saka’s injury is a major concern should it be anything more than a precautionary sub, but Nelson’s scoring joins previous shows from Eddie Nketiah and a soon-to-return Emile Smith-Rowe as a real flex for Arsenal.
Forest will have more days like this with a lineup like this: Choosing Renan Lodl and Serge Aurier shows that Steve Cooper wanted to attack the Gunners but Neco Williams and Joe Worrall could’ve been used in the Starting XI instead of off the bench (What in the world does Aurier provide Forest is another question). Willy Boly will soon-enough get a look, too, as Forest has plenty of attacking pieces but needs help at the back to hang with top attacks.
Getting packed-in at the back can limit damage and keep your team in a game at 0-0 or even 1-0, but Nelson’s early second-half goal all but set the stage for the eventual blowout. Doors were, indeed, blown off the barn.
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Stars of the show
Arsenal hosts Zurich on Thursday with its Europa League advancement secured but not seeded, but it will likely worry more about a 7am ET Sunday trip to Chelsea.
Forest hosts Brentford at 11am ET Saturday.
Gabriel Martinelli goal video, Bukayo Saka injury update
Arsenal and England star Bukayo Saka assisted the game’s opening goal with class, but fans of both his club and national team will be concerned about his status coming out of the match.
Saka’s left leg was being cared for by trainers on the pitch before he was replaced by Reiss Nelson on Sunday.
It’s less than a month before the World Cup and Saka is one of the keys to England’s high hopes in Qatar. He walked off the pitch without a major limp but watch this space for Mikel Arteta’s post-match thoughts.
Thomas Partey goal video: Curling smash makes it 4-0
How to watch Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, SundayTV Channel: USA NetworkOnline: Stream via NBCSports.com
All eyes will be on this young Gunners squad to see how they respond to a few small setbacks. They have a two-point lead atop the Premier League table heading into this weekend but with Manchester City playing before them in Matchweek 14, but the time Arsenal kick off against Forest they could be second. Arsenal look a little jaded and susceptible on the counter and they need to take their big chances early to stop any thought of dropping more points. For Forest, they have nothing to lose in this game. Ryan Yates’ industry has summed up the new-look of this side as Forest have become a solid unit and nasty to play against. Also, quite a few of these Forest players played in their FA Cup win against Arsenal in January 2022 as the then second-tier side knocked FA Cup holders Arsenal out of the competition.
In-form players to keep an eye on
Arsenal’s entire team is in good form but Granit Xhaka has been the main man for most of this season. Elsewhere, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli looked a little tired and have been just off it and that could explain Arsenal’s poor results in their last two games. Yates has been the heartbeat of Forest’s revival, with goalkeeper Dean Henderson playing superbly and Taiwo Awoniyi giving them a real focal point up top.
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup options
Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny remain out, while Oleksandr Zinchenko and Marquinhos are doubts. USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner suffered a small groin injury in training so 20-year-old Karl Hein is in the 18 at backup goalkeeper. Arsenal left Ben White, Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel, and Bukayo Saka out of the starting lineup at PSV and all five return after a rest.
Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options
Omar Richards, Harry Toffolo, Jack Colback, and Moussa Niakhate all remain out of the lineup. Forest makes one change from the team which performed so well against Liverpool as Cooper has finally found his formula.