5 Things we noticed in Arsenal’s opening game vs Nottingham Forest

By afcaarush
6 Min Read

Arsenal faced Nottingham Forest on the opening day fixture of the Premier League 2023-24 season at the Emirates stadium which resulted in a narrow 2-1 win to Arsenal and marked their first win of the season.

Initially it looked like a very comfortable game which could’ve ended in Arsenal scoring plenty of goals. Martinelli’s outrageous Roulette on which Nketiah pounced, slotting it past Matt Turner for the opening goal followed by a superb hit from Saka – The control, the curl and the finish gave Arsenal a comfortable lead at half time.

In spite of the attacking threats throughout the game Arsenal made it stressful for themselves in the last 10 minutes ad conceded a counter attack goal created by Elanga and tapped in by Awoniyi.

Impressive displays from Nketiah, Saka, Rice and Trossard late on lightened up the sunny afternoon in North London.

Here are a few exciting things we noticed vs Nottingham Forest:

Never doubt Eddie

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Nketiah now has 14 goals in 16 Emirates stadium starts. Complete different striker today. Aggressive pressing, great link up play too. Additionally some brilliant runs off the ball. Arteta on Nketiah: The way he trained this week was saying to me, “Gaffer if I don’t play you’re blind.”

The thing, for some reason is, that the Gooners are too quick to pounce on Eddie and he has always come out and proved everyone wrong again and again and again…

Eddie might just be the best number two striker in the league, he showed that in Jesus’ absence last season and he is showing it again.

Rice ~ Defensive Machine

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Declan Rice was definitely one the best on his Premier League debut for the Gunners. A powerhouse in midfield winning all his tackles (4) his ball winning ability gave Arsenal the control over the game. 5x possession won and 10 final third entries on his debut is some performance. Declan Rice covers for Partey exceptionally with his athleticism too. Even hit the post in the second-half after a great shot from outside the box.

I thought Rice was sneakily the MOTM. He was legitimately everywhere today and nearly scored. Cut out so many could-be attacks before they even happened.

Martinelli the Livewire

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Runs relentlessly to win the ball and the fact that he runs back and wins the ball multiple times but still is our most dangerous player in possession. Work rate, intensity and creativity off the charts. Remained a threat throughout the game. Gabi had the highest ball recoveries to finish the game – you don’t usually find a winger on these charts, speaks commendably about how influential he is. And that assist to the Eddie goal was too good as well.

Although there needs to be more of attacking threat from that LHS, most of Arsenal’s creation comes out of right. No Magalhães on the left meant Timber was playing as one of three centre-backs in possession, Rice dropping in to help alongside Kai Havertz. But that was not enough to control and work space. 

Arteta’s New Formation

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To break down the defence Arteta evolved a 3-1-6 formation. Tactically they outclassed Forest, regardless of the shaky end. Arsenal have undoubtedly improved the quality of the team as well as addressed depth issues. Suffocating press. Created an overload counter pressed effectively and sustained pressure very well. This formation can be a great solution against low blocks.

Partey inverted from right back into midfield where he primarily operated as a lone #6 with Timber positioning in the back 3 alongside Saliba and White. Ahead of them was Rice in the left half space, Havertz central, and Ødegaard in the right half space.

New backline showed some rust. Saliba struggled with his awareness a few times at LCB. Not a huge issue in my opinion, I expect we will be one of the best defenses in the league. Absolutely massive backline with Rice and Partey cutting out and chasing down runners with ease.

Ashburton Army allocation

image credit Twitter now arsenaI

You could see the allocation of AA was too less, and that was directly relatable to Stadium’s atmosphere. While I understand that all fans deserve a chance to get in the Emirates and enjoy the atmosphere but that coming at the cost of atmosphere itself should not be the case. 

“…Mikel Arteta’s army, We’re Arsenal through and through, We’ll sing it in the North Bank, And in the Clock End too…”

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