(CTN News) – A delayed start and a nervy finish characterized Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Arsenal appeared to be heading for a comfortable win with first-half goals from Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka. The game was delayed by 30 minutes as supporters could not enter the stadium on time.
On a quick counterattack, substitute Taiwo Awoniyi scored in the 83rd minute to give the visitors hope, although they failed to equalize in the final seven minutes.
“Obviously, it was a nervy finish, but we defended well,” said Nketiah. This is a great start, not just for myself, but also for the team as a whole.”
There was a delay in the kickoff due to a malfunction in the club’s new electronic ticketing system, which prevented tens of thousands of supporters from entering the stadium.
It took Arsenal a little more than 30 minutes to ensure it was an unpleasant return to the Emirates for former Gunners goalkeeper Matt Turner, the United States’ No. 1 who only moved from London to Nottingham last week.
Turner was making his Premier League debut after only appearing in cup competitions for Arsenal last season.
Nketiah gave Arsenal the lead in the 26th minute following an eye-catching assist from Gabriel Martinelli. Following a dribble down the left flank, the Brazilian winger performed a spin move between two defenders and produced a backheel flick to Nketiah in the box, whose shot took a slight deflection before slipping past Turner.
Just six minutes later, Saka produced another highlight-reel moment, cutting in from the right and curling a left-footed long-range strike beyond Turner’s reach.
After being on the bench last weekend for the Community Shield game against Manchester City, Nketiah started in place of Gabriel Jesus, who was injured.
“He trained like a beast this week, telling me, ‘I deserve to play,’” Arteta stated. Then I had no choice but to play him, since he provided me with all the reasons I needed.”
Three of Arsenal’s summer signings started the match, with Declan Rice and Kai Havertz playing in midfield and Jurrien Timber filling in at left-back for Oleksandr Zinchenko, who was not fully fit.
Timber, however, suffered a leg injury during the second half, while Rice had three shots saved by Turner.
Folarin Balogun was completely left out of the squad, as the striker is expected to leave Arsenal before the end of the transfer window.
After Arsenal failed to build on its lead, Anthony Elanga spurred hopes of a comeback when he ran the length of the field after an Arsenal corner and squared the ball to Awoniyi, who finished from close range.
While Forest were unable to test Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale again, Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard came closest to scoring during stoppage time with a shot over the bar.