Nottingham Forest fell to an opening-day defeat as they were defeated 2-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates.

Steve Cooper’s side could’ve taken an early as Brennan Johnson found himself one-on-one with Aaron Ramsdale, but the Wales international fired over the crossbar.

After the let-off, Mikel Arteta’s side ramped up the pressure and scored twice in six first-half minutes as they took a comfortable 2-1 lead into the break.

The Reds were much improved in the second half, with Anthony Elanga and Taiwo Awoniyi giving Coope’s side a completely different dynamic in the closing stages.

The pair combined, with Elanga leaving the Arsenal defenders for dead, before teeing up Awoniyi to fire home.

Despite the defeat, there are plenty of reasons to be positive this season.

Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Player ratings (5-2-3)

GK: Matt Turner – 7/10 – A decent performance from the former Arsenal man. Not much he could’ve done with the two goals after a deflection off Joe Worrall and a wonder striker from Bukayo Saka. Didn’t make any mistakes, and looked solid when called upon.

RWB: Serge Aurier – 4/10 – Struggled against the pace and quality of Gabriel Martinelli. Often caught in possession during transitional play, looks to be lacking confidence after a poor pre-season.

CB: Willy Boly – 5/10 – Looked solid in place of the injured Felipe. Won his fair share of aerial battles, and looks to have picked up where he left off against Fulham before his hamstring injury last season.

CB: Joe Worrall – 6/10 – Dealt with the pace and movement of Eddie Nketiah well. Made a couple of good last-ditch recoveries. Unfortunate with the deflection for the opening goal.

CB: Scott McKenna – 5/10 – A very typical McKenna performance, looked calm on the ball and cleared everything that came his way. A solid display from the Scotland international.

LWB: Ola Aina – 7/10 – Continued his good form in pre-season. Looked solid against one of the best young wingers in the world in Bukayo Saka, whilst playing out of position. Defended his 1v1s well, a bright spark from a poor performance.

CM: Ryan Yates – 5/10 – Put himself about and tried to break up the play where he could, but found it difficult against the quality of Arsenal. Tried where possible to neutralise Declan Rice on the ball, but always difficult in a two-man midfield against Arsenal’s three.

CM: Orel Mangala – 4/10 – Only had 13 touches in 90 minutes, made a couple of decent recoveries, but was too careless on the ball which saw him get dispossessed too easily.

CAM: Danilo – 4/10 – Very quiet game for Danilo’s standards, but found himself working with scraps due to the very defensive setup to combat Arsenal’s potent attack. Tried to create what he could on the counter, but was always going to be limited.

CAM: Morgan Gibbs-White – 5/10 – One of his least effective performances in a Forest shirt. Caught in possession for the second goal, which could’ve been easily avoidable. A couple of nice touches in the second half, with a couple of threatening set-pieces during the second 45.

ST: Brennan Johnson – 4/10 – Missed a huge opportunity early on which should’ve put the Reds ahead early on. Can tell he isn’t a No 9, looked better with Taiwo Awoniyi as a focal point but still a disappointing performance from the youngster.


Neco Williams – 6/10 – The defender came on for Aina and was solid defensively and made a couple of bursts forward hunting for the equaliser.

Cheikhou Kouyate and Chris Wood – 4/10 – Came on in the dying stages and didn’t have the chance to make a real impact on the game.

Anthony Elanga and Taiwo Awoniyi – 8/10 – The pair may have only come on for the last 10 minutes, but they completely transformed Forest in the final third with Elanga’s pace and Awoniyi’s hold-up play, bringing others into play.

Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

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