Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal: What Did We Learn As Forest Hand Manchester City Another Premier League Title And Confirm Top-Flight Safety?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 20 May 2023

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With all eyes falling on the City Ground on Saturday evening, Nottingham Forest claimed what was a season-deciding 1-0 victory against a deflated Arsenal.

In a showdown that has proved crucial at both ends of the Premier League table, Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half finish also officially confirmed that Manchester City will be lifting this season’s top-flight crown.

Likewise, putting in a season-best display on home soil and losing just one of their previous five Premier League appearances, Forest’s famous 1-0 win also confirmed their top-flight safety with one game left.

Backed by a vocal home support at the City Ground, Steve Cooper’s side certainly cashed in on an Arsenal squad that played like a team that had already accepted that their title dreams were over.

Needing a minor miracle here, the Gunners failed to find any kind of fluidity and they will undoubtedly be heartbroken by their collapse over the past six weeks.

In a showdown that both proved to be a season-deciding affair on Saturday evening, what did we learn as it was confirmed that Manchester City will be getting their hands on yet another Premier League crown?

Arsenal are limping their way over the finish line

While Mikel Arteta’s young squad might have made their return from March’s international break dreaming of the chance to make real Premier League history, Arsenal have come crashing back down to earth.

Putting in a nightmare display last weekend as they slumped to a 3-0 drumming at home against Brighton, Saturday’s guests appeared to be a side that had already accepted their fate.

Now winning just a pair of their last eight straight Premier League appearances – a run that stems all the way back to a 4-1 victory against Leeds on April 1st – Arsenal’s title collapse has largely been down to their rather glaring defensive struggles.

Blown away when they traveled to Manchester City last month as they suffered a crucial 4-1 defeat, Arteta’s side have now remarkably recorded just two clean sheets from any of their last 13 matchups across all competitions.

Crashing out of the Europa League on March 16th at the hands of Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal have clearly struggled to fill the void that has been left by the injured William Saliba.

Although the Gunners might have cruised their way to a lucrative Champions League return this season, there could be some fans in north London who will be disappointed by Arsenal’s end to the campaign.

Forest storm their way to Premier League safety

While it might be Arsenal’s season-deciding slip-up that will steal most of the headlines on Saturday evening, Nottingham Forest couldn’t care any less as Cooper’s side secured Premier League safety with time to spare.

Watching Everton snatch a stunning last-gasp equaliser away at Wolves earlier in the day, fans around the City Ground would have known that their side had to produce a real display here.

More than deserving of all three points and continuing to gain a reputation for their rugged displays on home soil, Forest will undoubtedly look back on their top-flight return as a hugely successful campaign.

Now securing back-to-back Premier League seasons for the first time in 27 years, the one-time Swansea boss also deserves plenty of praise after overcoming a huge amount of scrutiny.

While Cooper might have seen his position at the City Ground come under major pressure on either side of the World Cup’s winter break, Saturday’s hosts have certainly found top gear at a crucial time.

Unbeaten in each of their last five Premier League appearances and showing some real mental resolve, Forest and Cooper deserve a huge amount of credit.

Awoniyi is the Sheriff of Nottingham

While Forest’s 1-0 win here might have been just the first clean sheet that Cooper’s side had recorded from their last 16 straight domestic appearances, it was their attacking talisman who once again stole the show.

Despite showing some extended defensive issues since making their top-flight return this season, Saturday’s hosts have certainly found a clinical edge in the final third.

Opening May with a crucial 4-3 victory against Southampton at the City Ground, Awoniyi has cemented his spot as a real modern-day hero in Nottingham.

Bagging a brace as Cooper’s side claimed an action-packed 2-2 draw away at Chelsea last weekend, the one-time Liverpool striker has now bagged five goals in just his previous three Premier League appearances.

Although the 25-year-old might have been dealing with some long-term injury issues earlier in the year, Awoniyi has hit the ground running since returning from March’s international break.

Mustering 10 Premier League strikes this season and being one of just two players at the City Ground to reach double digits, Awoniyi’s first-half finish also wrote his name in Forest folklore.

Match Report

Nottingham Forest: Navas, Worrall, Felipe, Niakhate, Aurier, Yates, Mangala, Lodi, Gibbs-White, Danilo, Awoniyi

Subs: Boly, Kouyate, Johnson, Hennessey

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Partey, White, Gabriel, Kiwior, Xhaka, Jorginho, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Trossard

Subs: Vieira, Nketiah, Tierney

Goals: Awoniyi (19’)

Yellow Cards: Nottingham Forest: Niakhate, Gibbs-White, Awoniyi – Arsenal: Jesus, Gabriel

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Anthony Taylor


Tom Dunstan

Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan



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