Bukayo Saka of ArsenalSaka has been involved in 18 goals in home 24 appearances Arsenal since the start of last season (11 goals, 7 assists)

Bukayo Saka’s superb first-half strike helped Arsenal begin their Premier League campaign with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest on the opening weekend.

The 21-year-old England forward added to Eddie Nketiah’s 26th minute opener with a curling effort from outside the area that nestled itself into the top left corner of the Forest net, well past the reach of former Gunners keeper Matt Turner.

But last season’s Premier League runners-up had to survive a late charge by Forest after substitute Taiwo Awoniyi clawed a goal back in the 83rd minute.

The game had been delayed by 30 minutes because of an e-ticketing system issue that meant the majority of fans were still outside Emirates Stadium at the scheduled kick-off time of 12:30 BST.

When play did eventually get underway, it was Nottingham Forest with the first clear-cut chance when Brennan Johnson was put through on goal against Aaron Ramsdale, but the Wales forward lofted his shot high and wide when the Arsenal goalkeeper rushed off his mark.

That was to be a rare attacking threat from the visitors as Arsenal created the majority of chances until Awoniyi helped the visitors roar to life and create a tense finish.

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Arsenal off to perfect start

After a disappointing end to last season, Arsenal’s opening weekend win helps them gather more momentum to add to their Community Shield win over Manchester City at Wembley last weekend.

The Gunners led the Premier League for 248 days last season but their challenge fell apart in the closing stages as City overtook them to claim the title as part of a Treble, along with the Champions League and FA Cup.

Arsenal’s big summer signings Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber all started again for Mikel Arteta, having made their competitive debuts in the Community Shield, but it was Gabriel Martinelli who looked the liveliest in the opening stages.

The Brazilian winger darted in and out of the Forest defence to create the goalscoring opportunity for Nketiah, who netted his first goal since January when his shot took the slightest of deflections off Joe Worrall to send Turner the wrong way.

Eight minutes later, Saka’s quality shone through when he received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, cut inside and fired home Arsenal’s second.

However, Arsenal’s afternoon was marred when Timber, signed from Ajax for £34m last month, limped off the pitch and was replaced by Takehiro Tomiyasu in the 50th minute with what appeared to be a calf injury.

Rice, a £100m signing from West Ham, was effective in the Arsenal midfield and came close on a couple of occasions to adding a third for the home side, but his best effort, a 20-yard strike, was pushed on to the post by Turner’s fingertip save.

Forest charge too late for impressive comeback

Before kick-off Forest manager Steve Cooper said he was still in the process of putting his team together, and it certainly looked that way in north London.

The visitors started with their top scorer from last season, Awoniyi, on the bench with doubts over his recovery from an ankle injury, but apart from Johnson’s opening opportunity, chances were lacking and Forest had yet to have an attempt on target when the Nigeria striker was substituted on in the 71st minute.

But Awoniyi proved to be the spark Forest were missing, opening their account for the season when he fired home fellow substitute Anthony Elanga’s square pass across the face of Arsenal’s goal.

Despite the seven minutes of injury time added on, Cooper’s side failed to break down Arsenal’s possession to add a second with Morgan Gibbs-White coming closest, but shooting over while stretching.

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Player of the match

ElangaAnthony Elanga

with an average of 7.41

  • Arsenal
  • Nottingham Forest
  1. Squad number7Player nameSaka

  2. Squad number11Player nameGabriel Martinelli

  3. Squad number8Player nameØdegaard

  4. Squad number14Player nameNketiah

  5. Squad number2Player nameSaliba

  6. Squad number1Player nameRamsdale

  7. Squad number4Player nameWhite

  8. Squad number12Player nameTimber

  9. Squad number41Player nameRice

  10. Squad number19Player nameTrossard

  11. Squad number5Player namePartey

  12. Squad number29Player nameHavertz

  13. Squad number6Player nameGabriel Magalhães

  14. Squad number18Player nameTomiyasu

Nottingham Forest

  1. Squad number21Player nameElanga

  2. Squad number9Player nameAwoniyi

  3. Squad number7Player nameN Williams

  4. Squad number8Player nameKouyaté

  5. Squad number20Player nameJohnson

  6. Squad number11Player nameWood

  7. Squad number1Player nameTurner

  8. Squad number10Player nameGibbs-White

  9. Squad number26Player nameMcKenna

  10. Squad number28Player nameDanilo

  11. Squad number43Player nameAina

  12. Squad number30Player nameBoly

  13. Squad number22Player nameYates

  14. Squad number24Player nameAurier

  15. Squad number4Player nameWorrall

  16. Squad number5Player nameMangala

  • Line-ups
  • Match Stats
  • Live Text



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Ramsdale
  • 5Partey
  • 4White Booked at 90mins
  • 2Saliba
  • 12Timber Booked at 45mins Substituted forTomiyasuat 50’minutes
  • 8Ødegaard
  • 41Rice
  • 29Havertz
  • 7Saka
  • 14NketiahSubstituted forTrossardat 73’minutes
  • 11MartinelliSubstituted forGabrielat 86’minutes


  • 6Gabriel
  • 10Smith Rowe
  • 15Kiwior
  • 18Tomiyasu
  • 19Trossard
  • 20Jorginho
  • 21Fábio Vieira
  • 24Nelson
  • 31Hein

Nottm Forest

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Turner
  • 30Boly
  • 4WorrallSubstituted forWoodat 90’minutes
  • 26McKenna
  • 24Aurier
  • 22Yates
  • 5Mangala Booked at 81mins Substituted forKouyatéat 90’minutes
  • 43Aina Booked at 28mins Substituted forN Williamsat 72’minutes
  • 28DaniloSubstituted forAwoniyiat 71’minutes
  • 20JohnsonSubstituted forElangaat 80’minutes
  • 10Gibbs-White


  • 7N Williams
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 9Awoniyi
  • 11Wood
  • 19Niakhaté
  • 21Elanga
  • 23Freuler
  • 32O’Brien
  • 34Horvath

Referee: Michael Oliver

Attendance: 59,984

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Arsenal 2, Nottingham Forest 1.

  2. Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Nottingham Forest 1.

  3. Attempt missed. Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Bukayo Saka.

  4. Foul by Declan Rice (Arsenal).

  5. Ryan Yates (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Attempt missed. Cheikhou Kouyaté (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner following a set piece situation.

  7. Foul by Gabriel Magalhães (Arsenal).

  8. Anthony Elanga (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Kai Havertz (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  10. Foul by Willy Boly (Nottingham Forest).

  11. Attempt blocked. Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Leandro Trossard.

  12. Foul by Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).

  13. Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Ben White (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

  15. Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Sèrge Aurier.

  16. Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Cheikhou Kouyaté replaces Orel Mangala.

  17. Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Chris Wood replaces Joe Worrall.

  18. Attempt saved. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Kai Havertz.

  19. Substitution, Arsenal. Gabriel Magalhães replaces Gabriel Martinelli.

  20. Attempt blocked. Kai Havertz (Arsenal) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is blocked. Assisted by Martin Ødegaard.

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BBC Sport banner footer *[Elanga]: Anthony Elanga *[Ramsdale]: Aaron Ramsdale *[Partey]: Thomas Partey *[White]: Ben White *[Saliba]: William Saliba *[Timber]: Jurriën Timber *[Tomiyasu]: Takehiro Tomiyasu *[Ødegaard]: Martin Ødegaard *[Rice]: Declan Rice *[Havertz]: Kai Havertz *[Saka]: Bukayo Saka *[Nketiah]: Eddie Nketiah *[Trossard]: Leandro Trossard *[Martinelli]: Gabriel Martinelli *[Gabriel]: Gabriel Magalhães *[Smith Rowe]: Emile Smith Rowe *[Kiwior]: Jakub Kiwior *[Jorginho]: Jorginho *[Fábio Vieira]: Fábio Vieira *[Nelson]: Reiss Nelson *[Hein]: Karl Hein *[Turner]: Matt Turner *[Boly]: Willy Boly *[Worrall]: Joe Worrall *[Wood]: Chris Wood *[McKenna]: Scott McKenna *[Aurier]: Sèrge Aurier *[Yates]: Ryan Yates *[Mangala]: Orel Mangala *[Kouyaté]: Cheikhou Kouyaté *[Aina]: Ola Aina *[N Williams]: Neco Williams *[Danilo]: Danilo *[Awoniyi]: Taiwo Awoniyi *[Johnson]: Brennan Johnson *[Gibbs-White]: Morgan Gibbs-White *[Niakhaté]: Moussa Niakhaté *[Freuler]: Remo Freuler *[O’Brien]: Lewis O’Brien *[Horvath]: Ethan Horvath