Arsenal go two points clear of EPL

Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka scored quickfire goals in the space of seven second-half minutes as Arsenal climbed to second in the table, two points off the top, with a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

Despite dominating possession, Arsenal once again struggled to find a way through Forest’s defence in the first half, but Jesus gave them the breakthrough in the 65th minute before setting up Saka in the 72nd minute.

Forest substitute Taiwo Awoniyi pulled a goal back on 89 minutes, but Arsenal held on to make it back-to-back victories ahead of a HUGE showdown with Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta made two changes from the side that beat Crystal Palace 5-0, with Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe replacing Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz. It was only Smith Rowe’s second Premier League start since May 2022.

Declan Rice and Gabriel passed late fitness tests to start for the Gunners. As for Forest, Nuno Espirito Santo handed a recall to the fit-again Morgan Gibbs-White, while Taiwo Awoniyi was among the substitutes after a groin injury had kept him out since November.

Arsenal boasted 81 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes but were unable to create a clear-cut opening, with Jesus and Saka having efforts deflected off target.

Danilo flashed a shot over for Forest from a counter-attack, which was one of few sightings of goal in the first half for the hosts.

Arteta ran down the tunnel at half-time to deliver his team talk, and it seemed to work as Arsenal’s threat grew after the break.

In the 54th minute Saka’s deflected shot was well saved by former Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner. Three minutes later, Saka and Martin Odegaard combined to play in Jesus, but he could only direct his shot against the near post.

The opening goal duly arrived in the 65th minute as Arsenal caught the Forest defence out. Oleksandr Zinchenko took a quick throw-in down the left to Jesus, who found himself free behind Forest’s defence and advanced to score from the narrowest of angles, through the legs of Turner.

The lead was doubled seven minutes later on the counter-attack. Forest lost the ball in midfield and Odegaard’s ball to Jesus put Arsenal in with four players against two. Jesus played the ball across the box to Saka, whose right-foot shot was dispatched clinically into the far corner.

Awoniyi held off William Saliba to poke in and score against Arsenal for the third match in a row on 89 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.

The Nigerian then missed a chance to level in stoppage time, tamely volleying straight at David Raya, as Arsenal were able to see out the victory.

A second successive defeat leaves Forest in 16th on 20 points, just two points above the relegation zone.


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