Jesus and Saka from Arsenal bring an end to Arteta’s disappointing streak at Nottingham Forest.

Jesus and Saka from Arsenal bring an end to Arteta’s disappointing streak at Nottingham Forest.

Mikel Arteta finally found relief from his previous failures at the City Ground. As the Arsenal manager, he had suffered two losses before, with varying levels of humiliation. In 2022, his team was eliminated from the FA Cup, causing him to angrily address his players (video footage provided by Amazon Prime). Then, at the end of last season, a Premier League defeat marked the end of their hopes for the title.

Arteta was in search of something to maintain Arsenal’s motivation for winning the trophy he desires. During the first half of the game, his team passed the ball around but seemed hesitant to take shots, causing concern that they may face further disappointment.

Arsenal tore the notion apart, showing that patience was a ­virtue, landing quickfire blows after the hour which proved sufficient – despite Nuno Espírito Santo’s Nottingham Forest fighting until the last. The ­Portuguese manager has coached his side to victories over Newcastle and Manchester United so far in his brief tenure. Arsenal were a step too far.

Arsenal scored their 14th goal from a set piece in the league this season with a throw-in from Oleksandr Zinchenko that found Gabriel Jesus in open space. However, the moment will likely be remembered as a nightmare for Forest’s goalkeeper, Matt Turner, who previously played for Arsenal.

Jesus knew the angle was ­unfavourable when he shot, close to the byline, but the ball fizzed through Turner’s legs, ­brushing in off the inside of one of them. It had seemed as if Arsenal were trying to score the perfect goal; an ugly one tasted just as sweet.

Unable to reword.

At one point, despite Forest’s tense performance towards the end, there was an intense argument between Zinchenko and Ben White during the Arsenal post-game analysis. They had to be separated. Arteta expressed his admiration for his players’ desire for improvement and their displeasure with the way they let in goals.

Arteta would have been displeased if Taiwo Awoniyi, who came on at half-time and hadn’t played since November, had scored a tying goal in extra time. Awoniyi managed to score one goal in the 89th minute after receiving a pass from Montiel and pushing past William Saliba to beat David Raya.

He kicked the ball towards the goal after Morgan Gibbs-White sent a half-cleared corner into the area. Raya had to make a good save to prevent Arteta’s “negative experiences” at this stadium from continuing, as he had described them on Monday.

Arteta stated that the events of last year were still weighing heavily on the team. He could sense that the players were still discussing it, and entering the dressing room served as a reminder. They were determined to make things right this time around.

The Forest team was pleased to have Arsenal playing in front of them, even allowing them to make shorter passes along the sides. They were aware that their main objective was to protect their goal area and surround any opposing players who managed to reach it. However, this did not happen often in the first half, as Forest’s strong defense also made it difficult for Arsenal to advance.

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During the first half, there was a moment where a ball was dropped for Arteta in his designated area. He impressively controlled it with a Cruyff-turn, making one question if he would be more effective on the field. This thought arose because his players were facing challenges with their slow movements and predictable patterns.

The forest did not provide much of an offensive threat in the first half, except for a blocked shot by Chris Wood after a burst from Gibbs-White and a high drive from Danilo.

Bukayo Saka celebrates after scoring Arsenal’s second goal against Nottingham ForestView image in fullscreen

Although Arsenal controlled most of the field, there were not many opportunities in the first half. The most exciting moment occurred in the 44th minute when Zinchenko passed a low ball and Smith Rowe, making only his second league start of the season, pushed it to Saka after Murillo failed to clear. However, Murillo was able to block Saka’s shot.

Nuno desired for Awoniyi to connect with Gibbs-White in the latter half of the game. Gibbs-White showed promise when he pushed forward with the ball. However, it was Arsenal who displayed a sense of urgency. Saka put pressure on Turner and Jesus nearly achieved a breakthrough, hitting the post after a fantastic team play involving Saka and Martin Ødegaard.

Arsenal would make their ­superio­rity count. Next up for them is Liverpool at home on Sunday. “We have some momentum now,” Arteta said. “Now go, go, go.”