Top meets bottom in Sunday afternoon’s Premier League showdown at the Emirates Stadium, as Arsenal face Nottingham Forest aiming to avoid a third successive game without a win.
The Gunners fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League in midweek, ending their nine-game unbeaten run across all competitions.
Take nothing away from PSV’s stellar performance at the Philips Stadion, but it is fair to say that the result had been coming for Mikel Arteta’s side, who have been less than impressive in recent games.
As impressive as their winning streak had been, the Gunners failed to muster convincing performances against Bodo/Glimt, Leeds United or PSV in the last week.
Second-half strikes from Joey Veerman and Luuk de Jong were enough for Ruud Van Nilsterooy’s side to down Arsenal, who will need all three points against Zurich to qualify as table toppers.
After a bright start to the game against Southampton, where Granit Xhaka grabbed an early opener, the Gunners were pegged back by Stuart Armstrong’s second-half equaliser.
Arsenal are still top of the Premier League table and their Champions League group, but that could change if their recent performances do not change over the next week.
Arteta’s men are in need of a pick-me-up, and a return to home territory could be just what they need as they head into Sunday’s showdown on a ten-game winning streak at the Emirates in all competitions.
They have won each of their last eight in the Premier League, but have failed to keep a single top-flight clean sheet in that run.
Forest know a thing or two about stunning the big boys after their improbable triumph over Liverpool.
Taiwo Awoniyi reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box to poke home past Alisson, and Forest’s newfound defensive resilience, coupled with some brilliant goalkeeping from Dean Henderson, was enough to keep Liverpool at bay.
Having also held Brighton & Hove Albion to a goalless draw on the south coast, the Tricky Trees have recently proven to be a tricky team to break down.
They have conceded just two goals in their last four games, but their position in the table is still a precarious one, as they occupy 20th place, just two points adrift of safety.
Forest’s stern defence should prove a true test of Arsenal’s attacking prowess. But Cooper’s side have picked up just two wins on the road this season and have failed to score in each of their last four away matches ahead of the club’s first-ever Premier League visit to the Emirates.
Forest’s triumph over Liverpool is enough indication that they cannot be underestimated, but Arsenal’s record against newly promoted sides does not bode well for the Reds.
The Gunners have won each of their last seven league games against promoted sides, last winning eight in a row between January 2013 and April 2014.
At the Emirates, the north Londoners are unbeaten in 34 games against promoted teams (W29, D5) since a 1-0 loss to Newcastle United in November 2010.
Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last ten league home games, though they have won the last eight in a row (L2).
In English top-flight history, only Aston Villa have won nine consecutive home games while conceding each time, doing so in their first ever nine games in 1888/89.
Following their 1-0 win against Liverpool last time out, Forest are looking to win consecutive league games for the first time since their final three in the 1998/99 campaign.
They will visit the Emirates for the first time looking to become only the third side to win their first-ever game there since West Ham United in 2007 and Hull City in 2008.
Forest have won their last two league games in London, beating Millwall and Fulham 1-0 in the Championship last season.
They have not won three consecutive away league games against sides from the capital since March 1989, the third game of which was a 3-1 win against Arsenal.
Taiwo Awoniyi has put on talismanic performances for the Tricky Trees since his arrival and is proving to be money well spent for the Reds.
Both of Forest’s league wins this season have been 1-0 victories thanks to Awoniyi’s goals, and all three of the Nigerian’s goals in the league have been the opening goal of the game. He also scored first in Forest’s 3-2 defeat to Fulham.
Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest Predicted Line-ups
Arsenal (4-3-2-1): Aaron Ramsdale; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, William Saliba, Kieran Tierney; Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey; Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli; Gabriel Jesus.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Dean Henderson; Serge Aurier, Steve Cook, Scott McKenna, Neco Williams; Ryan Yates, Cheikhou Kouyate, Remo Freuler; Morgan Gibbs-White, Taiwo Awoniyi, Brennan Johnson.
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Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest Prediction
Arsenal facing newly-promoted teams at the Emirates usually only ever ends one way. But the fatigued Gunners can take nothing for granted against a Forest side, who are growing in confidence by the week.
However, Cooper is yet to find an answer to his side’s profligacy on the road, and Arsenal’s home record should be enough boost for Arteta’s side to secure all three points.
Arsenal 1-0 Nottingham Forest
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