Arsenal got their Premier League campaign off to the perfect start with an ultimately nervy 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest.
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Mikel Arteta raised eyebrows ahead of kick-off by dropping defensive mainstay Gabriel and handing a start to Eddie Nketiah.
A reshuffle at the back saw Thomas Partey start at right-back with Ben White tucking inside to partner William Saliba and summer signing Jurrien Timber afforded a Premier League debut.
The makeshift rearguard were nearly caught cold immediately when an innocuous headed clearance sent Brennan Johnson clean through on goal, but the Forest forward skewed his finish way wide of Aaron Ramsdale’s goal.
Arsenal slowly grew into the contest with captain Martin Odegaard to the fore but it took a moment of inspiration from Gabriel Martinelli to break the deadlock.
The Brazil international had been starved of possession in the early stages but when he was eventually given the opportunity to test Forest’s backline, he bamboozled Danilo and Serge Aurrier with a sensational 360 degree spin.
Nketiah was on hand to collect the ball inside the penalty area and the striker justified his selection with a shot that beat Matt Turner, his Arsenal teammate until a few days ago, with a shot that took a deflection off Willy Boly.
The Gunners doubled their lead soon after with Bukayo Saka picking up where he left off from last season, curling a sensational 25-yard shot into the far corner beyond a flailing Turner.
Arsenal were dealt a blow at the start of the second half when Timber, who took a hefty blow to the knee before the break, went down clutching his calf with no opponent within two yards of him.
Takehiro Tomiyasu was summoned from the bench but the change did little to disrupt the control Arsenal had exerted.
It wasn’t until the 76th minute that Arsenal threatened to extend their lead when Kai Havertz teed up Declan Rice and the club’s record signing was only denied debut goal by Turner’s fingertip touch onto the post.
Rice missed another soon after when his scuffed volley was turned aside by Turner and from the resulting corner, Forest cleared their lines and set-up a nervous finish when substitutes Anthony Elanga and Taiwo Awoniyi combined to half the deficit.
Forest piled on the pressure during the closing stages and threw on Chris Wood looking to force a late equaliser but failed to really test Aaron Ramsdale and an increasingly anxious Arsenal backline who clung on to record a deserved three points.
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