The Gunners ended their Manchester City hoodoo to win the Community Shield last weekend and are now out for a slice of revenge against the team who officially ended their title dreams last term.
Arsenal and Mikel Arteta learned about the new rules regarding gamesmanship and time-wasting the hard way in last weekend’s Community Shield affair with Manchester City, who withstood Gunners pressure before propelling themselves into the ascendancy through a fine Cole Palmer effort.
However, the North London giants quickly became the beneficiaries of the newly-introduced regulations, as Leandro Trossard’s deflected effort in the 11th minute of second-half injury time preceded a second successive penalty-shootout success for the Gunners, who had also retained their Emirates Cup crown by beating Monaco from 12 yards.
The age-old debate over whether the Community Shield counts as a piece of silverware continues to rage, but Arsenal’s celebrations on the day were telling, as Arteta’s men finally ended their spate of dismal defeats against the treble winners and potentially gave themselves a huge psychological boost ahead of another title charge.
Arsenal exceeded most fans’, pundits’ and journalists’ expectations during a phenomenal 2022-23 campaign, although it still only took a couple of injuries to key cogs for things to go pear-shaped, which the Emirates board have sought to rectify with a £200m+ summer spending spree.
Such an outlay should also see the Gunners shut up shop at home more often than they did last term, as their 5-0 demolition job of Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day marked just their fourth Emirates clean sheet in the 2022-23 campaign, although one of the other three did come against their opening-day opponents.
A 5-0 drubbing of Forest in North London soon paled into insignificance when the Gunners travelled to the City Ground in May, as Steve Cooper’s side consigned Arsenal to a second-placed finish while deservedly retaining their Premier League status thanks to one of the most important goals that Taiwo Awoniyi will ever score in his career.
An immediate demotion back down to the Championship was unthinkable for a Forest side who added 25 new faces to their roster throughout the 2022-23 season – some to greater effect than others – and Cooper also brushed aside brief talk of a termination before guiding the Tricky Trees to a second consecutive season of top-flight football.
Forest have since pitted their wits against several continental foes in the build-up to the new campaign, although only two of their seven pre-season fixtures ended with Cooper’s men on the correct end of the scoreline, and they failed to win or indeed score in each of their final four tune-up games.
Following a trio of successive losses to Leeds United, PSV Eindhoven and Rennes, Forest came away from Eintracht Frankfurt’s headquarters with a respectable 0-0 draw to their name, but scoring a mere three goals in their seven warm-up contests might have some alarm bells ringing.
Furthermore, no team performed worse on the road than Forest in the 2022-23 Premier League season, as Cooper’s men picked up a paltry eight points on rival territory, and it has been 34 years since the Tricky Trees last managed to sink Arsenal on their own patch, winning 3-1 at Highbury in the 1988-89 First Division, although the Gunners memorably went on to clinch the crown that year.
Arsenal form (all competitions):
Nottingham Forest friendly form:
We say: Arsenal 3-0 Nottingham Forest
Clean sheets at the Emirates may not have been Arsenal’s forte last term, but with a couple of Forest’s attackers yet to hit full fitness, the Gunners should commence the new season in perfect fashion.
Spirits will already be extremely high in Arteta’s camp following their Community Shield success, and Turner’s North London homecoming will surely be a miserable one, as the hosts stroll to an opening-day win with a few goals in tow.