EPL

Arsenal cut gap to leaders Liverpool after labouring to win at Nottingham Forest

By Sports Desk January 30, 2024

Arsenal overcame a sluggish first-half performance to cut the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to two points after a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

The Gunners looked toothless in the first half, but rallied to register three big points thanks to goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka.

The result leaves them on the coattails of Liverpool, who can extend their lead back to five points against Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Forest had no intention of going for the win in a pragmatic approach deployed by Nuno Espirito Santo, but they made a game of it late on as Taiwo Awoniyi slammed home in the 89th minute.

Arsenal saw it out to end a three-game losing streak at the City Ground and exorcise the ghosts of last season’s defeat, which saw their title challenge come to an end.

Forest’s situation at the foot of the Premier League is looking precarious, as they sit two points above the relegation zone with the threat of a points deduction for breaking financial rules hanging over them.

It is not in Nuno’s make-up to play an expansive game and his plan was to put men behind the ball and ask Arsenal the question of whether they could break them down.

The first half provided an answer of a resounding no, as for all their possession and territorial advantage the Gunners lacked a cutting edge to trouble Forest.

They had seven shots on target but none of them tested their former team-mate Matt Turner in the Forest goal, with Saka’s snapshot which deflected off Murillo and just wide the nearest they came to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes.

Forest offered next to nothing as an attacking force, registering just one pass in the final third in the opening half-hour, with Danilo’s drive over the crossbar from distance their only real foray forward.

The Gunners began to turn the screw after the second half and put Forest’s goal under serious threat for the first time.

Turner was forced into his first save when he palmed away Saka’s deflected effort with a strong hand before their best moment came four minutes later.

An intricate move involving Saka and Martin Odegaard led to Jesus being played in but he smashed his effort from a narrow angle into a post.

Eventually Arsenal’s pressure told as they took the lead in the 65th minute, though Turner will not want to see it again.

Forest switched off from Zinchenko’s throw-in and Jesus burst to the byline where his toe-poked shot went through Turner’s legs and into the back of the net.

Turner has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after a number of high-profile mistakes, but has been backed by Nuno, himself a former goalkeeper, though this may change things.

It was 2-0 seven minutes later after a breakaway goal. Gonzalo Montiel fluffed a clearance on the halfway line, skewing straight to Odegaard, who set Jesus free and he picked out Saka at the far post, with the England international making no mistake.

Forest had rarely threatened but Awoniyi, making his first appearance since November, converted after William Saliba’s mistake late on, though they could find a leveller.

Related items

  • Mauricio Pochettino ‘so upset’ over Chelsea penalty bust-up despite huge win Mauricio Pochettino ‘so upset’ over Chelsea penalty bust-up despite huge win

    Cole Palmer’s four-goal haul in Chelsea’s thumping 6-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed by what Mauricio Pochettino called “unacceptable” behaviour as two of his players were involved in a physical altercation over who should take a penalty.

    The home side were four goals up in the second half when Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke caused the unsavoury scene that left their manager feeling the need to apologise to fans watching the game around the world.

    Palmer, the club’s appointed penalty taker, finally took charge following intervention from the captain Conor Gallagher, recovering his composure to score his fourth of the game and move on to 20 Premier League goals for the season.

    “The players know, the club knows that Palmer is the penalty-taker,” said Pochettino, who was visibly agitated during his post-match duties.

    “I’m so, so upset about the situation. In every country people are watching the game and we cannot send this type of image.

    “I want to apologise to our fans. Discipline is the most important thing for the team. It’s a collective sport. I’m not going to accept this type of behaviour. I’m going to be very strong. I promise it’s not going to happen again.

    “We need to move on and talk about the game – 6-0 against a very good team like Everton, clean sheet, I think we should be happy, no?”

    In a debut season defined by individual excellence, the first half was superb, even by Palmer’s own exceptional standards.

    His first goal alone was worthy of winning a Premier League match, nutmegging Jarrad Branthwaite before playing a neat one-two with Jackson, then curling the ball left-footed beyond the dive of Jordan Pickford.

    His second was a poacher’s finish, reacting quickest to knock in the rebound after Jackson’s effort had been pushed out by the goalkeeper.

    Everton were falling apart, a collapse encapsulated by Pickford’s error, playing the ball straight to Palmer to punt the ball into an empty net from 45 yards.

    Jackson scored Chelsea’s fourth, hooking Marc Cucurella’s cross under control and guiding it home with a swing of the right boot.

    Then came the sight of Jackson and Madueke pushing and shoving over a penalty awarded in the 63rd minute.

    “We don’t talk about punishment,” said Pochettino. “It’s about learning. They are young guys. It was very good the reaction of Gallagher like a captain. But you cannot show that type of behaviour.

    “The discipline is going to be stronger. If they behave like kids, it’s impossible. You cannot behave like kids. It’s a shame, it’s an unacceptable thing. We don’t deserve to be talking about this.”

    At the end of an excellent display, academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist capped things off by firing home his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Everton boss Sean Dyche, whose side sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, reflected on a “horrid” night for his team.

    “It’s miles off where we want to be,” he said. “There’s no excuses for that. Miles off the mark, miles from where we’ve been.

    “The goals were alarmingly poor. It’s just simple tackling, reading and anticipating the game. The basics were out the window. A horrid night without a shadow of a doubt.”

  • Superb Cole Palmer scores four as Chelsea hit Everton for six Superb Cole Palmer scores four as Chelsea hit Everton for six

    Cole Palmer became the Premier League’s joint-leading scorer this season as his four goals helped Chelsea crush hapless Everton 6-0 at Stamford Bridge.

    The former Manchester City player now has 20 for the campaign and dismantled Sean Dyche’s side almost single-handedly, netting a hat-trick inside the first 29 minutes to breathe genuine momentum into his team’s bid to qualify for Europe.

    This was as complete a first half as Chelsea have managed under Mauricio Pochettino, displaying a clinical edge in front of goal that made the insipid attacking displays of earlier in the season feel like a distant memory.

    It was also a night for individuals. Moises Caicedo at the base of midfield gave a performance full of guile and maturity; rarely had he looked so in command in Chelsea colours.

    Nicolas Jackson, who scored the fourth goal, and Mykhailo Mudryk were superb, further turning the tide of opinion in their favour after slow starts to their careers in blue.

    Then there was Palmer, Chelsea’s talisman, who is surely now a contender to challenge his former Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot.

    This was not a perfect 90 minutes and there are still issues for Pochettino to address. When his team were given a penalty at 4-0 up in the second half, there was the unsavoury spectacle of a physical altercation as Jackson and Noni Madueke each tried to take the ball from the appointed taker Palmer. It pointed to a failure of discipline and leadership that the manager must surely address.

    But it could not sour a fine night for home fans in west London, capped off fittingly when academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist fired in his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Chelsea had started the game sluggishly, narrowly avoiding going behind after nine minutes when Beto missed the target from four yards.

    As so often this season it required intervention from Palmer to shake them to life. Receiving the ball deep from Malo Gusto, he impudently nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Jackson, then curled his finish wide of the dive of Jordan Pickford for his first goal of a remarkable first half.

    Soon the floodgates were open. After 17 minutes, Mudryk was played in down the left by Jackson who, receiving it back from the Ukrainian, shot first time. Pickford beat the ball out, but only to the feet of the arriving Palmer who grabbed his second.

    His finish for 3-0 was exquisite, but the opportunity came gift-wrapped from Pickford. The England goalkeeper tried to pick out Amadou Onana but came up short with his pass. In nipped Palmer and, undaunted by the 45-yard distance to goal, lobbed it into the net for his hat-trick.

    Jackson made it four before the break, showing exquisite touch to drag Marc Cucurella’s cross out of the air before turning and guiding the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s grasp into the corner.

    The 22-year-old has shown significant improvement in recent weeks, and his 13th goal of the season was surely his best so far for Chelsea.

    Palmer argued away Jackson and Madueke to make it five from the penalty spot just past the hour mark, then Gilchrist drilled into the bottom corner from Pickford’s parry at the death, as Chelsea moved to within three points of the top six.

  • Alejandro Garnacho spoken to by Erik ten Hag over social media activity Alejandro Garnacho spoken to by Erik ten Hag over social media activity

    Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho has been spoken to by Erik ten Hag after the winger liked social media posts criticising the manager’s handling of the player.

    The Argentinian, taken off at half-time of their 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, liked two messages on X, formerly Twitter, by YouTuber Mark Goldbridge.

    One read: “Ten Hag subtly blaming Garnacho in the post match press conference… not a good look throwing a 19 year old under the bus who has actually delivered for you this season. But then again he’s clearly scared of upsetting the bigger earners.”

    The other said Garnacho “had a poor first half but taking him off at half time and holding him up as the problem is a joke”.

    Garnacho swiftly ‘unliked’ both messages – an action the club believes shows contrition – and a United source told the PA news agency the matter had been dealt with internally.

    In September Jadon Sancho’s post on X, saying he had been made a “scapegoat” and “I will not allow people saying things that (are) completely untrue” – interpreted as accusing Ten Hag of misrepresenting reasons why the winger was not in the side – led to the 24-year-old being banished from the first team before being loaned to Borussia Dortmund in January.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.