Although this game might look like a dead rubber on paper, it could be decisive at both ends of the table. First, it could confirm our Premier League champions. Second, it could mean Nottingham Forest are safe. Which way does it go? Find out in our Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal prediction and preview.
Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal: Quick Stats
- Arsenal given a 56.8% chance of victory on Saturday, which would delay Manchester City’s title celebrations.
- But should they lose, Pep Guardiola’s side would be crowned champions.
- A Nottingham Forest victory here would secure their safety if either Everton or Leeds failed to win their respective games against Wolves and West Ham
After a season in which Arsenal led the Premier League for nearly 250 days, their title hopes are all but over. A 3-0 defeat to Brighton last Sunday means Manchester City are guaranteed to win their third successive Premier League title with one more win from their final three games.
But it could all be over before Pep Guardiola’s side next kick a ball. An Arsenal defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday would confirm the title will head back to the blue half of Manchester.
Even the most optimistic of Arsenal fans will concede the title is gone. Having spent 248 days top of the Premier League this season, Opta’s rest of season predictor model has them at less than a 1% chance of winning the title. Should the (almost) inevitable happen, it would be the most days spent top of the table without finishing first in a single season in English top-flight history.
But doom and gloom aside, it has still been an exceptional season for the Gunners. 2022-23 is the first campaign they’ve secured a top-four finish since 2015-16, and their haul of 81 points is already the highest they’ve secured in a season since 2007-08 (83).
A Nottingham Forest victory here would secure their safety if either Everton or Leeds failed to win their respective games against Wolves and West Ham. They could also clinch safety with a point if results fall their way.
Steve Cooper’s side have really rallied of late, taking seven points from their last four games to lift themselves out of the relegation zone. They sit three points clear of the drop with two matches to go. It’s been a remarkable turnaround in form given those seven points directly after an 11-match winless Premier League run where the writing looked to be on the wall.
If Cooper’s side do indeed secure their Premier League survival, it would be just the fourth time in Premier League history that all three newly promoted clubs have avoided relegation. The most recent occasion was in 2017-18 when Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle all avoided the drop.
Though they haven’t beaten Arsenal at home in the league since December 1996, Nottingham Forest have won their last two meetings with the Gunners overall at the City Ground, winning FA Cup ties in 2018 and 2022. They last won three in a row against them between 1984 and 1986.
Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback and Gustavo Scarpa are all doubts for the hosts, while Emmanuel Dennis, Dean Henderson, Neco Williams and Chris Wood are out.
For Arsenal, Oleksandr Zinchenko will probably miss out with a calf injury. Gabriel Martinelli recently joined William Saliba, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny as those ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
Arsenal 5-0 Nottingham Forest: 30 October 2022 (Premier League)
The reverse fixture saw Arsenal thump Nottingham Forest 5-0 at the Emirates as they restored their two-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table. Defeat saw Forest remain rock bottom of the table, with just two wins from their opening 13 Premier League games.
Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring in the fifth minute, stooping low to head in a Bukayo Saka cross. It was Saka’s 20th Premier League assist, and he became the third-youngest player to reach that milestone (21y 55d), behind only Cesc Fàbregas (19y 352d) and Wayne Rooney (20y 300d).
Saka was then forced off through injury, but his replacement Reiss Nelson blew the game wide open with a quickfire double immediately after half-time, becoming the first Englishman to score a brace as a substitute for Arsenal in a Premier League game.
Nelson then turned provider, teeing up Thomas Partey to crash in from outside the box. Martin Ødegaard completed the rout late on to register Arsenal’s 19th 5-0 home victory in the Premier League, but their first in a game where Arsène Wenger wasn’t the manager.
Only once have Arsenal done the Premier League double over Nottingham Forest, doing so in 1998-99.
Players to Watch
Nottingham Forest: Taiwo Awoniyi
Taiwo Awoniyi has picked a heck of time to find his goalscoring boots. The forward, who Forest signed from Union Berlin last summer, has scored four goals in his last two Premier League games. That’s as many as he had in his previous 23.
With braces against Southampton and Chelsea in his last two games, he could become just the second Nottingham Forest player to score multiple goals in three consecutive Premier League appearances, after Bryan Roy in March/April 1995.
Awoniyi’s in red-hot form and Arsenal need to watch out.
Arsenal: Martin Ødegaard
Named Arsenal captain at the start of this season when he was still only 23, Martin Ødegaard has been a huge part of the reason Mikel Arteta’s side were able mount a title challenge against the might of Manchester City. And while they’ll probably fall short of winning the title, the astonishing development of Ødegaard is one of a number of positives Arteta will take from this campaign.
The midfielder is ever present in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield and is generally involved in everything they do. Only Bruno Fernandes (259) has been involved in more open-play attacking sequences that end in a shot than Ødegaard (225), and even if you worked those numbers out on a per-90 basis, he ranks fourth in the entire league. If Ødegaard is on, then Arsenal will be on too.
Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal Prediction
Although their title challenge has spluttered to a halt, Arsenal are still an exceptionally strong side. One that the Opta supercomputer thinks will be too strong for Nottingham Forest at the weekend. It gives the Gunners a 56.8% of victory, while Forest have an 18.2% of picking up a huge win.
Stepping back for a moment and looking at the rest of season predictions, the model is pretty bullish on Forest’s chances of survival. It gives them just a 21.5% chance of dropping down into the Championship next season.