Category Archives: Match Report

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal: Much Possession, Little Penetration

Awoniyi sinks Arsenal, hand Man City Premier League title

Awoniyi scoring the goal that ended the title dreams

Match Report  Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Arsenal (Awoniyi 19′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1, I think?!): Ramsdale; Partey, White, Gabriel, Kiwior (Tierney 63′); Jorginho, Xhaka (Nketiah 63′); Saka, Odegaard, Trossard (F. Vieira 70′); G. Jesus

Following the loss to Brighton in front of the Emirates faithful, it was only a matter of time before Manchester City pushed hard to win their third Premier League title in a row, as well as their fifth in the last seasons, establishing a level of dominance that has not been witnessed in quite some time. The Gunners have gone through a roller-coaster campaign that saw them push the Cityzens to the edge, before capitulating in grand style with that atrocious run of form, so it was important to at least end on a high with two games left against Nottingham Forest and Wolves.

Nottingham Forest has promoted to the Premier League this season and have endured a topsy turvy campaign that saw the club flirt with relegation for a considerable chunk of the season. Following a win over Leeds in February 2023, Nottingham Forest went on a shambolic run of eight defeats and two draws in 10 games, and the bookies wasted no time in tipping them to make the drop to the Championship but with vital wins over Brighton and Southampton, as well as a draw with Chelsea, Nottingham Forest’s Premier League destiny was in their hands again, and they knew that a victory over Arsenal will all but secure their status in England’s elite division.

The game itself was somewhat troubling from the start with Mikel Arteta deploying a formation that was confusing to say the least – Thomas Partey was at right back, Ben White was back to center back and Jakub Kiwior played left back. Initially, I thought Kieran Tierney had suffered one of those his famous warm up injuries but to my bewilderment, he was among the substitutes. Arsenal had the lion’s share of possession against Nottingham Forest, but offered little or no penetration. The home defense always doubled up on Bukayo Saka, and on the left flank, Leandro Trossard, who was deputizing in Gabriel Martinelli’s stead was very ineffectual. 

Against the run of play, Nottingham Forest opened the scoring when Martin Odegaard lost the ball further up the pitch, and Taiwo Awoniyi was sent clean on goal with Gabriel on the prowl, but the Brazilian defender inadvertently cleared the ball to the forward’s path, allowing him to side-foot the ball past an onrushing Aaron Ramsdale to make it 1-0. This is the umpteenth time that Odegaard has missed a simple pass that ended up leading to a counter attack that saw the team concede. I really hope he improves on this. 

Despite offering nothing concrete from an attacking perspective in the first half, Arsenal got a chance early in the second half when Saka finally managed to evade his marker, but his near-post drive was saved by Keylor Navas. Bar a couple of half chances from Morgan Gibbs-White, it was a dire encounter with Arsenal making a 1,001 passes with no penetration to break Nottingham Forest down. 

Sadly, this loss ensured that Manchester City won the Premier League with three games to spare and it’s back to the drawing board for Arteta and his coaching staff. More focus would be on Edu Gaspar and the higher ups to sign the players required to take Arsenal to the next level, but we have a whole summer to ponder and sort that.


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Arsenal 0-3 Brighton: Final Nail on the Title Coffin

Arsenal's title hopes almost over after 3-0 loss to Brighton | Loop Jamaica

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 0-3 Brighton (Enciso 51′, Undav 86′, Estupinan 97′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Kiwior, Gabriel, Tierney; Jorginho (Nelson 60′), Xhaka (Partey 60′); Saka, Odegaard (Smith-Rowe 77′), Martinelli (Trossard 20′); G. Jesus (Nketiah 77′)

With the Manchester City juggernaut storming past Everton at Goodison Park, the onus was on Arsenal to keep up with the defending champions as Brighton came to town. The Seagulls have been hugely impressive this season with a brand of football that’s up there with the very best, but seeing them lose 5-1 at home to Everton stunned everyone but Arsenal were expected to step up in front of their home fans for the penultimate time this season.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was believed to be out for the rest of the season, but there was some confusion as he was pictured in training couple of days ago. However, Kieran Tierney got the nod in the left back slot, but he played like a traditional fullback, rather than doing a Zinchenko to support from midfield. The game started on a harsh note for Arsenal with club captain, Martin Odegaard, hitting the deck after he received a whack to the face from Pervis Estupinan’s clearance, calling the physios into action quite early on. Brighton continued with the physicality as Moises Caicedo, that started at right back, instead of Pascal Gross, to battle the threat Gabriel Martinelli posed, managed to escape a yellow card when he went in really hard on the Brazilian winger, causing the physios to access his ankles.

The first chance of the game arrived when Julio Enciso was free at the near post but his first-time attempt was palmed over by birthday boy, Aaron Ramsdale. Odegaard was close to the same position he let one rip against Newcastle and with five goals scored in his last five games, you can imagine his insatiable appetite to score goals but his effort sailed wide off the mark.

The impact of Caicedo’s ill-timed tackle on Martinelli took its toll as the winger requested to be substituted, and former Brighton star, Leandro Trossard, took to the pitch to take on his former teammates. The Belgian maverick almost put his face on the back pages of the tabloids when he received the ball from Granit Xhaka, bore down on goal and blasted a shot that clipped the cross bar before going over. A few inches lower and Trossard would have opened the scoring for Arsenal against Brighton – how the media would have feasted on that. – Trossard comes back to bite the hands that fed him, blah blah

Arsenal were clearly on the ascendancy but failed to capitalize on their chances, as Gabriel Jesus received a sumptuous pass from Odegaard, drifted too wide and fired a near post shot that was saved by Jason Steele. Bukayo Saka also had a glorious chance late in the first half when Lewis Dunk nodded the ball to his path, but he blasted his shot wide. He has been off the rails in recent weeks, and his treacherous form continued.

With Arsenal failing to assert themselves in the game, Brighton took the initiative and found themselves ahead after some good work from their left attacking flank. Kaoru Mitoma was a constant threat to Ben White and got the better of him before teeing up Estupinan that left Saka for dead after activating the after burners. The Ecuadorian’s first cross was repelled by the Arsenal backline and he had a second bite of the cherry, sending the ball to an unmarked Enciso who nodded the ball past Ramsdale. Jakub Kiwior was impeded by Evan Ferguson, even losing his boot after the incident, but that didn’t mean anything to the ref. I was just bewildered with the fact that Kiwior was more concerned about putting his boot on when he was in a position to attack the ball before it got to Enciso. Oh well.

That goal took the wind off the sails of the home side and the gaffer responded with bringing on Reiss Nelson and Thomas Partey for Xhaka and Jorginho on the hour mark. Nelson almost made an instant impact when he took the ball on the left flank, evaded his marker and blasted a shot that missed by a lick of paint. The next set of substitutions from the manager perplexed me with Gabriel Jesus and Odegaard coming off for Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe. With Arsenal chasing the game, they would have been in a better position to get an equalizer with the captain and the alpha male in attack still on the pitch. 

Enciso suffered an injury and was visibly seen in tears, and was replaced by Denis Undav. Within minutes of entering the pitch, Undav scored the goal that put the nail on Arsenal’s Premier League title challenging coffin. Trossard dropped deep to receive a pass from Ramsdale and haphazardly played it off Gross before the bouncing ball fell to Undav’s path. Ramsdale rushed towards the forward and got chipped for his effort, putting the game beyond doubt. There was even some time for the icing on the cake for Brighton when Undav’s pale effort was parried by Ramsdale to Estupinan’s path that sent the rebound home. 

It was truly puzzling to see how the Gunners capitulated this in grand style, and after staying on top for 93 percent of the campaign, Arsenal has conceded the Premier League title to Manchester City. I’m short of words to describe how I feel about the whole ordeal, but it has been a roller coaster of a campaign that saw my team play some amazing football and looked like odds on favorite to win the damn thing, only to go through that bad run of form, and bottle it like we did yesterday.

The club captain has conceded the title race and the manager has apologized for the performance, so they will need to find some motivation to see out the remaining two games of the campaign against Nottingham Forest and Wolves, before we look forward to a busy summer that we need to recruit the right kind of talent that will add the right measure of depth, as well as the quality to take us to the finish line next season.


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Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal: Away Day Revenge!

Arsenal keeps slim Premeir League title hopes alive with crucial victory  against Newcastle | CNN

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal (Odegaard 14′, Schar OG 71′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Kiwior, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierney 61′); Jorginho, Xhaka; Saka (Nelson 87′), Odegaard (Partey 80′), Martinelli (Trossard 80′); G. Jesus (Nketiah 87′)

When Arsenal visited St. James’ Park last season, Mikel Arteta’s side lost further ground on their Champions League qualification push, as Tottenham garnered the points needed to oust their North London neighbors to the trenches of Europa League football. The tides have turned this season, with Tottenham trying to even earn a Europa League spot, while Arsenal have moved on to bigger and better things, challenging for the Premier League title. After a bad run of results that saw Arsenal draw three on the spin before losing the potential title decider to Man City, the Gunners got a win over Chelsea to steer the ship in the right direction, but had an all-important clash against Newcastle on the same ground they lost around this time last year. 

The last North London side to visit Newcastle’s hallowed ground were thrashed resoundingly, and with the defeat from last season still lingering on the minds of the players, Arteta had to give them the right level of motivation. In terms of team selection, Jakub Kiwior and Jorginho kept their place in the team, but Gabriel Martinelli was favored ahead of Leandro Trossard.

One of the ongoing themes of the season has been how poorly the Gunners start games with the two fastest goals in the Premier League this season scored against Arsenal, and it was on show yesterday, when as early as just 90 seconds into the game, Newcastle had a breakaway moment with ex-Gunner, Joe Willock, escaping down the left before teeing up Jacob Murphy whose effort clattered the post, sparing the Gunners’ blushes. The Newcastle onslaught continued when Oleksandr Zinchenko was found wanting in his defensive post, allowing Kieran Trippier to cushion the ball to Bruno Guimaraes at the edge of the area. The Brazilian’s weak attempt of a shot smashed Kiwior’s thigh before finding its way to his arm, despite his best efforts to remove it. However, common sense prevailed as the VARs made the right call, ruling out the penalty.

That was a massive let off for Arsenal, but they responded in the best possible way, with Martin Odegaard receiving a pass from Jorginho before letting one rip from 25 yards, between Sven Botman’s legs to make 1-0 to the Arsenal. That was Odegaard’s 15 Premier League goal of the season, showcasing why he was indeed a worthy nomination for a place in the Team of the Season.

Nick Pope has been one of the most exemplary performers for Newcastle this campaign, making save after save in what has been a tremendous run for the Magpies that could see them play Champions League football at the end of the season. His saving prowess was on show again, when Odegaard sent a through ball for Martinelli, whose shot was saved by Pope. Odegaard picked up the pieces with the rebound and fired a fierce strike that was also palmed away by Pope. Moments later, Martinelli found Bukayo Saka, that bore down on goal, but his shot was also saved by Pope. 

Ramsdale wasn’t going to be left out on the goalkeeping clinic, making himself big to save a goal-bound shot from Willock. It was a very physical contest, with the referee allowing a lot to be swept under the carpet, but Arsenal had a glorious chance to go two goals up just before the break when Martinelli found Odegaard in the six yard box and only Pope to beat, but his right-footed shot was saved by the impressive Pope. Call it a poor shot from Odegaard or an outstanding save from Pope, the bottom line was that Arsenal had several big chances to put the game beyond any doubt and failed to capitalize on it. Then when you think about the recent results as well as Newcastle’s strength in front of their home crowd, it was a legitimate cause for concern.

Newcastle came out stronger after the break and almost got the equalizer on two swift occasions. First, a simple dinked cross that was headed to the post by Alexander Isak with Ramsdale rooted to the spot, and a point blank header from Fabian Schar that saw Ramsdale make a super save to keep Newcastle out. 

It was really end to end stuff, as Jesus combined well with Martinelli that went on a slalom run before curling a shot that clipped the cross bar. Zinchenko was getting roasted all game long defensively, and Newcastle focused on his flank, so it was to the relief of everyone connected with Arsenal when Kieran Tierney was summoned to take his place. Arsenal doubled their money when Martinelli went on a mazy lung-bursting run that saw him take all comers before drilling it into the danger area from the byline, but Schar was on hand to toe poke it into his own unguarded net. Late on, Schar tried to atone for his error with a good effort that sailed over the bar with Ramsdale scrambling, but the Gunners held on to go one point behind Man City in this topsy-turvy of a championship race.

Man City had narrowly defeated Leeds on Saturday and have the business of the Champions League semifinals to take care in mid-week and its going to be interesting to see how the next couple of weeks pan out in this pulsating title race. Arsenal has shown great maturity and have gotten their fair share of revenge on some grounds they lost season.

At least, they managed to secure away day revenge against the Magpies.


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