Nowhere to run to in the Forest as Arsenal gun down Nottingham in 5-0 hiding to reclaim summit

Nowhere to run to in the Forest as Arsenal gun down Nottingham in 5-0 hiding to reclaim summit


There were two years and 107 days between Reiss Nelson’s first league goal for Arsenal and his second. And three minutes and one second, between Nelson’s league goals number two and three.

Now that’s what you call a response – and so was this. Arsenal dropped two points at Southampton last Sunday, lost their place at the top of the table to Manchester City on Saturday, and on Sunday bounced back in the best way imaginable – a thumping home win, which restored their position of superiority.

It is no exaggeration that Arsenal were in spectacular form as Reiss Nelson came off the bench to score two in the Gunners’ 5-0 demolition of Nottingham Forest.

This was after England forward Bukayo Saka seemed to take a knock in the opening minute but still teed up Gabriel Martinelli to break the deadlock, later limping off to be replaced by Nelson, who scored twice in three minutes before assisting Thomas Partey as captain Martin Odegaard wrapped up the win.

Nelson had not scored a Premier League goal in 837 days since getting on the scoresheet in a win over Liverpool, but it was an impact that settled the home crowd after Arsenal had earlier failed to build on a strong start.

It is Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge, next which will be a test of more significance, but this was emphatic and impressive, certainly given that Nottingham Forest’s last outing brought a win over Liverpool.

After losing to PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League on Thursday night, Mikel Arteta somewhat surprisingly reverted back to the starting XI that was held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton a week ago.

Some of his players seemed to tire in that game, but here they put to the sword a Forest side showing just one change from their shock 1-0 win over Liverpool.

Against Nottingham Forest, Arsenal made the most of a lively opening as Martinelli stooped to head in a pinpoint Saka cross after five minutes.

Nelson was the unlikely man of the moment, on for the sadly stricken Bukayo Saka, and scoring the back to back goals that removed Forest from the contest early in the second-half. He is part of the clutch of impressive youngsters at Arsenal but, unlike Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, has been unable to claim a regular slot at the club.

Spells with Hoffenheim in Germany and Feyenoord in Holland have broadened his football education however and he’d get in at any number of Premier League contemporaries; certainly Forest.

Credit Mikel Arteta, too, for turning to Nelson when he lost Saka after 27 minutes. He could have played it safe, but went like for like on young forwards and was rewarded. Nelson’s goals were both lovely finishes and set Arsenal up for a comfortable conclusion, allowing Arteta to rest tired legs and coast to referee Simon Hooper’s whistle.

It was four goals in less than 30 minutes that dispatched Forest, but Nelson’s two in three decided the game. For the first, five minutes after half-time, Granit Xhaka picked out Gabriel Jesus who moved the ball smartly and generously to Nelson.

His first shot brought a fine save from Dean Henderson but the rebound fell to his feet, and he angled his shot into the far top corner, perfectly. Nimble feet, nimble brain – and his first league goal in an Arsenal shirt since scoring against Liverpool on July 15, 2020.

The Arsenal players celebrated by holding up a shirt with Pablo Mari’s name and number on the back after the defender – currently on loan at Monza – was stabbed in a Milan supermarket last week.

Arsenal were well on top and came so close to a second, only for Renan Lodi to clear Martinelli’s effort off the line. But the Gunners were not having everything their own way. Saka had taken a knock early on and having tried to play on, was forced off before the half-hour mark as Nelson replaced him.

The change seemed to give Forest fresh impetus as they enjoyed a couple of rare forays into the Arsenal half and almost levelled as Gabriel Magalhaes gifted possession to Jesse Lingard, whose shot was bravely blocked.

The game changed after the break, with Nelson taking centre-stage on his first Premier League appearance since the opening-day defeat at Brentford last season.

He doubled the lead with a finish high into Dean Henderson’s net after the England goalkeeper had done well to keep out Nelson’s initial effort.

The points were secured just three minutes later. Nelson scored again as he turned home Gabriel Jesus’ cross before laying a pass into the path of Partey, who finished superbly from outside the box to make it four.

Arteta took his opportunity to rest a number of other key personnel as William Saliba, Granit Xhaka and Martinelli were all replaced before Odegaard latched onto a Jesus pass to score the fifth.

That proved to be the last of the goals, with Arteta probably as happy at keeping a first home Premier League clean sheet since March as he was at the clinical display at the other end of the pitch.

  • A Tell report / Input from Daily Mail/Football365
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