Arsenal keep pace but only after Forest scare, minnows thump hipster favourites to exit drop zone
Arsenal needed to win at Nottingham Forest and did, keeping pace with Manchester City and leaders Liverpool in the process.
That was about as good at it got, but at a ground where they have lost on their last two visits, Mikel Arteta will take it.
The Gunners got by thanks to goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka, but survived a late scare as Taiwo Awoniyi scored and was then denied in stoppage time by keeper David Raya.
Title challengers are entitled to ride their luck, as Arsenal did with that late save, but Arteta will again look at a performance that saw his side dominate the ball against less fancied opponents and create very little.
Prior to Jesus’s opener in the 65th minute, there had been very little meaningful traffic at either end. Forest didn’t get within cooee of Raya’s goal, but that mattered little as Arsenal themselves were reduced to long shots from distance and blocked efforts within a crowded box.
Arsenal fans might point to their side’s control and mention that, even though it took over an hour, they got there in the end.
That required a set piece, as it so often does these days, and their former keeper, Matt Turner, to have a bit of a nightmare. The American will not enjoy looking back on his part in Jesus’ goal, which travelled through him from a poor angle.
As it stands, Arsenal return to second place with Manchester City and Liverpool set to play tomorrow against Burnley and Chelsea respectively.
Elsewhere, Luton put Brighton to the sword with a stunning 4-0 home win that sees the Hatters move out of the relegation zone and to within a point of Forest.
Elijah Adebayo and Chiedozie Ogbene scored within the first five minutes to put Brighton on the back foot, with Adebayo adding two more to complete a hat trick and end the game before the hour mark.
Concerningly for the usually attack-first Brighton, they have now gone three games in the Premier League without scoring – their last two fixtures were goalless draws with Wolves and West Ham – and are yet to win in the league this calendar year.
Everton, who drop beneath Luton, got a 0-0 draw out of their trip to Fulham, a result that looks good on paper but perhaps might not be enough given Saturday’s visit of Tottenham to Goodison Park and then an impending visit to Manchester City.
Crystal Palace’s embattled manager Roy Hodgson gained some respite with a 3-2 win over basement boys Sheffield United, with no little thanks to star duo Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze.
Eze got two, both assisted by Olise, who himself scored the third, and all three were screamers. The first Eze goal, a spectacular flying volley, will live long in the memory.
United did play their part, taking the lead in the opening minute and then pegging back Palace immediately, but are increasingly looking doomed. Thanks to Luton’s win, the Blades are now nine points off safety.
Newcastle rounded out the day with a fine 3-1 win at Aston Villa to complete a league double over the high-flying Birmingham side.
Swiss centre back Fabian Schär scored twice to give the Magpies breathing room before an Alex Moreno own goal ensured the result. Ollie Watkins made it interesting late but could not change the result.