Reiss Nelson strikes twice as Arsenal chop down Nottingham Forest

Gabriel Martinelli (centre) holds up team-mate Pablo Mari’s shirt (John Walton/PA)

Sign up to Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter sent straight to your inbox for free

Sign up to Miguel’s Delaney’s free weekly newsletter

Thanks for signing up to the
Football email

It wasn’t quite a day when absolutely everything went for Arsenal, given Bukayo Saka’s concerning injury, but even that ended up bringing a different solution. Mikel Arteta surprisingly opted for Reiss Nelson to come on for his first Premier League game of the season, and the forward scored his first Premier League goal in two and a half years, before quickly following with another to drive the league leaders to an easy 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

It was exactly the kind of impact both he and Arsenal needed. A team whose lead at the top of the Premier League was looking increasingly fragile, due to struggles to score, suddenly enjoyed relief, release and a lot of flowing moves. A brilliant youth talent whose career looked like it had stalled suddenly suggested he can be a big player for this team again.

Nelson, who was basically Jadon Sancho’s equal while both were teenagers coming through the ranks, now potentially offers Arsenal a lot of tactical options as well as badly needed depth. That could be crucial as they try and keep ahead of the Manchester City machine, or even in any Champions League race.

For now, Arsenal’s main worry – which is also one for Gareth Southgate – is over Saka. The forward initially landed awkwardly when a ball went out for a corner, and was hobbling thereafter, until he eventually had to just sit it out.

There were also some complaints about the aggression of Forest’s challenges throughout the game. That is why an otherwise expected victory may actually prove more significant than anticipated.

Recommended


The first half had seemed to follow the pattern of a lot of recent Arsenal games. They’d gone ahead early, only to fail to add to it, and endure an increasing anxiety in their game as the opposition got bolder. It almost cost them against Leeds United. It definitely cost them against Southampton. It didn’t even come close, in the end, against Forest.

Arsenal had enjoyed a literal flying start, given the manner of Gabriel Martinelli’s superb opener. It was set up by Saka, which is another reason any injury lay-off will be so frustrating.

The young England star was running the game, performing at that point where he looks like he might be about to go up another level. It wasn’t just that vibrant wing-play here, that basically demands he should be used much further forward than wing-back.

There were so many Andres Iniesta-like disguised passes, that so often opened the Forest defence. The initial assist for Martinelli was a cross, although a deftly guided delivery that the Brazilian threw himself at to head the ball into the corner. It was a brilliantly flowing game, that Martinelli celebrated by holding up Pablo Mari’s shirt after the shocking events of the last week.

Gabriel Martinelli celebrates after heading Arsenal in front

Arsenal had Forest completely penned in for a long period after that. As in recent games, though, they couldn’t make more of it.

A frustration crept in. Forest sensed it. They also tried to force it with a lot of forceful challenges. A few were fortunate not to get harsher punishment.

Forest began to create chances. Takehiro Tomiyasu had to put his body on the line to prevent a Jesse Lingard equaliser.

Saka went off.

It had that feel of a game that could go wrong for Arsenal.

Instead, the opposite happened, but not by chance. Arteta’s side showed some resilience and he himself showed some impressive decisiveness. The introduction of Nelson was inspired, especially given that Eddie Nketiah and Fabio Vieira were on the bench.

The 22-year-old showed why. After a brilliant break driven by the resurgent Granit Xhaka, the midfielder worked it over to Gabriel Jesus before the Brazilian shifted it on to Nelson. The forward had one effort stopped by Dean Henderson but there was no keeping out the second. There was no stopping him.

Within moments, Nelson had made it 3-0, guiding Jesus’ cross into the corner of the net.

Arsenal were now in free flow, everything they were doing was coming off. This was reflected in the very trajectory of Thomas Partey’s strike, as the Ghanaian scored another long-range goal that curled into the top corner at pace. There was a period when Forest just couldn’t keep them out.

Recommended



Martin Odegaard duly smashed the ball into the roof of Henderson’s net.

Arsenal had found their flow again. Nelson had found himself as a player again.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Source: Read Full Article