Bukayo Saka lights up the Emirates but Arsenal have to cling on against Forest

Gunners make a winning start despite injury to Timber and Awoniyi's late goal

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Arsenal survived a late scare to get their season off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

First-half goals from Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka looked to have set the hosts on their way to an easy win but Taiwo Awoniyi struck late on to ensure a nervy conclusion.

Arsenal's first half dominance led to two goals straight from the club's academy. First Nketiah twisted and turned in the box before firing low across Matt Turner in the Forest goal, and then Saka lit up the occasion with a sublime second, curled into the top corner from the edge of the box.

It wasn't all good news for Arsenal though with new signing Jurrien Timber going off with a knee injury around 50 minutes into his full Premier League debut.

Nketiah had been a surprise pick for the hosts in a team that featured holding midfielder Thomas Partey deployed as a right full-back.

But manager Mikel Arteta said: "Eddie was very disappointed he did not start [the Community Shield] against Manchester City but came on and had a huge impact, trained like a beast this week, telling me 'I have to play'. So I had to play him. A great example."

On Timber's injury, he said: "The physio and doctors looked at him and were happy to continue. Straight away in the second he made a movement and it felt funny. We will have to assess him.

"It's always difficult to win the first game of the season," added Arteta. "We deserved to be in front but we didn't kill the game. And 2-0 in the Premier League is a dangerous scoreline and we had a lack of concentration, conceded a goal, and so it is game on.

The start of the game was delayed by 30 minutes after a problem with the turnstiles at the Emirates left thousands of fans unable to get in on time.

The delay seemed to affect the hosts more as it was Forest who enjoyed the first chance of the game, Brennan Johnson unable to hit the target after being slipped in behind.

But a moment of magic from Gabriel Martinelli freed Nketiah inside the Forest box and his low shot found a way past Turner courtesy of a deflection off Joe Worrall as Arsenal hit the front just after the midway point of the first half.

Saka then took centre-stage, collecting a pass from William Saliba and curling home a fine effort to double the lead before half-time.

It was not all smiles, though, as summer signing Timber limped off.

The Dutch defender had gone down in pain having committed a foul on the stroke of half-time but emerged for the second-half, only to be forced off soon after.

The second half looked like being played out largely with Arsenal controlling possession, Declan Rice forcing a low stop out of Turner with a deflected drive before the £105million man had another shot turned behind.

But, from the resulting corner from the second of Rice’s efforts, Forest broke at pace and substitute Anthony Elanga burst down the left before squaring for Awoniyi to finish.

Arsenal ultimately held on for the win, Gabriel Magalhaes replacing Martinelli to sure up the defence as Forest threw on the likes of Chris Wood in a late attempt to salvage a point.

Updated: August 12, 2023, 3:38 PM