Pre-Match Report

Preview: Arsenal v Nottingham Forest

Arsenal v Nottingham Forest

After a wait of 23 years, we host Nottingham Forest again in the Premier League on Sunday who will be buoyed by their 1-0 win against Liverpool last weekend.

That was Steve Cooper’s side’s second win of the campaign, but if they are to end a 33-year wait for a win on our turf, they’ll have to pick up a first win on the road this term having failed to score in each of their last four away days.

Meanwhile, we’ll be looking to chalk up our 300th victory at Emirates Stadium against an opponent making their league bow at the venue, with only two of the previous 40 debutants winning at the first attempt.

Cooper chops and changes

Nottingham Forest celebrate scoring against Liverpool

During a chaotic summer transfer window, Steve Cooper juggled his pack by signing 22 first-team players and allowing 18 to depart. With all the comings and goings, it was hardly a surprise that Forest looked disjointed in their early fixtures, and claimed just one win from their opening eight games - a 1-0 victory in their first home match against West Ham United.

However, there have been recent signs that the Welshman now has a better idea of his best XI, with draws against Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion sandwiched between a defeat at Wolves, before Liverpool came to town last Saturday.

Taiwo Awoniyi struck the only goal of the game to reignite his side's season, and while they’re heading to north London bottom of the table hopes are high that things are on the way up for newly-promoted outfit.

What to look out for

Scott McKenna of Nottingham Forest

Michael Cox, writing in the official matchday programme: Cooper has turned around Forest’s fortunes by emphasising the importance of deep defending and playing on the break. There’s also been a significant formation change from 3-4-1-2 to 4-3-3, allowing the opposition more possession but less time in dangerous areas.

Cooper is still relying primarily on centre-backs who played for him last season in the Championship. Scott McKenna has been the only outfield ever-present, and recently has been playing alongside the experienced Steve Cook. Neco Williams started the season in good form at right wing-back, but switched to the left to accommodate Serge Aurier.

The security of Remo Freuler and Cheikou Kouyate allows Ryan Yates to make determined forward runs from midfield, while Jesse Lingard and Morgan Gibbs-White have proven dangerous on the break, with the latter’s set-pieces responsible for three goals so far this season.

What the managers say

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper

Arteta: "There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to react. On Sunday, we have a really important game, and then we’ll look at Zurich. 

“We have to be much better than we were [against PSV]. We knew what they were trying to do and the way we executed certain actions, the way we competed, it wasn’t good enough.”

Cooper: "Even before Sunday I knew it was about what was next and focusing on the coming days and the preparation. I’ve liked that attitude in the team this week. The idea has to be about striving to improve and work harder.”

Team news

Oleksandr Zinchenko in action against Bournemouth

Oleksandr Zinchenko’s calf issues may see him miss this one, while it remains to be seen if Marquinho has shaken off the illness that caused him to miss the trip to Eindhoven. Emile Smith Rowe and Mohamed Elneny remain on the long-term injury list.

Defenders Moussa Niakhate and Harry Toffolo have hamstring injuries and will miss out, while Lewis O'Brien has sat out the last three matches because of illness but has been back in training this week. 

Summer recruit Omar Richards picked up a hairline fracture of the leg in pre-season and hasn’t been seen since, while Jack Colback is struggling with back issues.

Facts and stats

Granit Xhaka applauding the Arsenal supporters

We have won each of our last seven Premier League games against promoted sides, last winning eight in a row between January 2013 and April 2014. 

We are unbeaten in 34 games against promoted teams (W29 D5), since a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United in November 2010.

We haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of our last 10 Premier League home games, though we have won the last eight in a row. In English top-flight history, only one side has ever won nine consecutive home games while conceding each time - Aston Villa back in 1888/89.

Forest have won two of their last 27 league visits to N5 (D11 L14), with Brian Clough leading them to consecutive victories in 1987 and 1989.

The Reds have won their last two league games in London, beating Millwall and Fulham 1-0 in the Championship last season. They've not won three consecutive away league games against sides from the capital since March 1989, the third of which was at Highbury.

Following their 1-0 win against Liverpool last time out, Forest are looking to win consecutive Premier League games for the first time since their final three in the 1998/99 campaign. 

Granit Xhaka has scored three Premier League goals this season, as many as he had in his previous three campaigns combined, while only in 2018/19 has he ever scored more (4). This could be his 200th Premier League appearance, at least 42 more than any other Arsenal player since he joined in 2016.

Match officials

Simon Hooper

Simon Hooper will officiate his first-ever Arsenal game this weekend - in contrast, it’ll be the 19th time he has overseen a Forest match, the last of which was their opening-day defeat to Newcastle United.

This season has seen him take charge of eight Premier League fixtures, and in that time he has brandished 25 yellow cards - seven of which came in last weekend’s Everton v Crystal Palace game - but no reds, and awarded just one penalty.

  • Referee: Simon Hooper
  • Assistant Referee 1: Adrian Holmes
  • Assistant Referee 2: James Mainwaring
  • Fourth Official: Thomas Bramall
  • VAR: Andre Marriner
  • Additional VAR: Darren Cann

Recent encounters with Forest

You have to go back to August 1998 for the last time Forest were in N5 for league action, when goals from Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars sealed a 2-1 victory for the reigning double holders.

However, during the Reds’ 23-season top-flight exile we did meet four times in cup competitions, although just once on our own patch. That came in September 2019 when we ran out 5-0 victors in the League Cup on a night that saw Gabriel Martinelli bag his first Gunners goals, with Rob Holding, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson also netting.

We also triumphed 4-0 in the same competition at the City Ground three years earlier when Granit Xhaka was among the scorers, but our two FA Cup meetings saw us defeated 4-2 in 2017/18, while Lewis Grabban’s goal knocked us out of the competition at the third round stage last season.  

Breakdown Live

Breakdown Live

Join Nick Bright and Adrian Clarke from 1pm on Sunday for all the best build-up for a Gunners matchday, who will be discussing the game and working out where it'll be won or lost.

This will also be our Rainbow Laces fixture so we speak to non-league defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle who recently came out as bisexual, while rapper Little Simz and a man with a foot in both camps, Tony Woodcock, will also pop into the studio.

Then from 2pm, Dan Roebuck and Jeremie Aliadiere will be on live commentary duties to keep you up-to-date with the proceedings.

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Fixtures & Results

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