At long last, Arsenal and the Premier League are back. The Gunners host Nottingham Forest at the Emirates, Arsenal’s first season opener at home since 2019. It’s been 76 days since the Gunners thrashed Wolves 5-0 to end last season on a high note. But we, and I’d guess the players, have all been stewing on what could have been with a bit more injury luck. That’s behind us now. Hope springs eternal in a new season full of possibility.
The Gunners battered Forest at the Emirates last season 5-0, but lost 1-0 in the reverse fixture in May. That win sealed Premier League safety for Forest, so I’m not sure it is entirely representative of the matchup between the clubs. Still, it is a reminder that you cannot take any match in the PL for granted. Anybody can take points off you on their day.
I don’t expect Arsenal to start the season as well as they did last year, mostly because the preferred XI isn’t as set in stone. Mikel Arteta seems to still be moving players around a bit, and the guys are still learning each other. He’s trying to make the side more flexible and less predictable. That will likely lead to a bit of growing pain now but benefit Arsenal later in the season. That said, the Gunners should be winning their season opener at home against a side that narrowly escaped relegation last year.
Mikel Arteta’s squad enters the season mostly healthy. In his pre-match press conference, the Arsenal manager said he expected everyone save Gabriel Jesus, who is still recovering from a procedure to clean up his surgically repaired knee, and Mohamed Elneny, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, to be available. News filtered out later in the day that Oleksandr Zinchenko, while back in training, would likely not be risked.
Steve Cooper is expected to be without last season’s top scorer, Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored in that 1-0 win in May, because of an ankle problem. Awoniyi is back in training but not expected to be match fit in time. The two biggest new names for Nottingham Forest are former Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner (who joined earlier this week) and former Manchester United attacker Anthony Elanga.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, Partey, White, Saliba, Timber, Rice, Havertz, Ødegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah
⚪️— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 12, 2023
Timber at the back
Rice in the middle
Eddie leads the line
Time to set the tone, Gunners pic.twitter.com/qctSrWBjzG
Nottingham Forest - Turner, Worrall, Mangala, Gibbs-White, Johnson, Yates, Aurier, Mckenna, Danilo, Boly, Aina
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Nottingham Forest
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Saturday, August 12th 4:30 am PT | 7:30 am ET | 12:30 pm BT
US TV: Streaming on Peacock.
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