Arsenal picked up their 10th Premier League win in 12 games to end October at the top of the table, with Reiss Nelson starring on Sunday.
Reiss Nelson scored two and assisted another as Arsenal returned to winning ways and moved back to the Premier League summit after a 5-0 rout of Nottingham Forest.
Mikel Arteta’s side dominated at the Emirates Stadium and regained their two-point lead over Manchester City despite losing Bukayo Saka to injury after he assisted Gabriel Martinelli’s opening half on Sunday.
Saka substitute Nelson added a quick second-half strike before Thomas Partey’s fourth, with Martin Odegaard rounding off the win with a powerful finish after 78 minutes.
The win saw Arsenal respond emphatically to a 1-1 draw at Southampton and a Europa League defeat at PSV, while Steve Cooper’s side remain bottom with two league games remaining before the end of November’s World Cup.
Martinelli put Arsenal ahead in the fifth minute after finding the bottom right corner from Saka’s curling centre, before Gabriel Jesus whipped just wide three minutes later.
Renan Lodi cleared Martinelli’s effort off the line as Arsenal dominated a first half marred somewhat by Saka’s suspension with an ankle injury.
Four minutes into the second half, following a save from Dean Henderson, Nelson pounced to double his personal tally after turning Jesus’ low cross at the post into the bottom left corner.
Partey added a fourth with a wonderful curler into the top right corner from Nelson’s offload on the edge of the area before Jesus leveled Odegaard to slot past Henderson to seal a dominant victory.
What does it mean? Arsenal continue to fight for the title
Arsenal failed to replicate Southampton’s dominant first half and squandered a one-goal lead after a crushing second half that proved to be somewhat of a throwback to the Gunners’ struggles in recent years.
But Arteta’s side avoided the chase in their next league outing to record an eighth successive win against newly promoted sides – their longest such run in the competition since an eight-match run between January 2013 and April 2014.
Although tougher tasks will follow, he leaves for Chelsea next Sunday, Arsenal will continue to keep pace with City.
1. Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6/10 – Could have gotten the proverbial deckchair out today, such was the lack of threat from Forest.
RB: Ben White – 7/10 – Solid if unspectacular.
CB: William Saliba – 6/10 – Actually a little bit shaky in the first half, but fortunately Forest were in no state to capitalise.
CB: Gabriel – 7/10 – Like Saliba, Gabriel looked less than assured in the first half. By the second, however, he was busting out the overhead kick clearances.
LB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10 – Never seems fully comfortable as a makeshift left-back, but far from a bad performance.
CM: Thomas Partey 8/10 – Scored arguably the pick of the goals with a wonder strike.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Kept Arsenal ticking in midfield, but didn’t grab the headlines like he has so often of late.
RW: Bukayo Saka – 7/10 – A livewire in the early stages and deservedly grabbed an assist for Martinelli’s opener. Arsenal – and Gareth Southgate – will hope the knock he picked up isn’t too serious.
CAM: Martin Odegaard – 8/10 – Arsenal’s fluid attacking quartet was at the peak of its powers today, and Odegaard was at the heart of it all.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – 7/10 – Got Arsenal’s day off to the best possible start with a lovely header. Could have gotten another, but Arteta wisely seized the opportunity to give the Brazilian a rest.
ST: Gabriel Jesus – 8/10 – Did everything but score, despite his best efforts to get on the scoresheet. Great game for the striker.
SUB: Reiss Nelson (27′ for Saka) – 9/10 – Probably not the hero anybody expected today, but it was a magnificent outing for Nelson as he grabbed two goals and an assist.
SUB: Cedric (63′ for Tomiyasu) – 6/10 – Helped to see out the game.
SUB: Fabio Vieira (63′ for Martinelli) – 6/10 – Didn’t offer much of note, but in truth the game was all but done when he came on.
SUB: Eddie Nketiah (75′ for Xhaka) – N/A
SUB: Kieran Tierney (76′ for Saliba) – N/A
Manager: Mikel Arteta – 8/10 – His side have been accused of lacking intensity in recent games, but Arsenal came roaring out of the traps today and never really let up. Superb.
2. Nottingham Forest (4-3-3)
GK: Dean Henderson – 6/10 – Can hardly be blamed for the result, as he was given no help at all by his teammates.
RB: Serge Aurier – 5/10 – Hardly the weakest link in the Forest defence, but altogether a forgettable day for Aurier.
CB: Steve Cook – 4/10 – Dreadful. Cooked by Arsenal’s attack for 90 minutes. Stick a fork in him; he’s done.
CB: Scott McKenna – 4/10 – See above.
LB: Renan Lodi – 6/10 – Made a great block on the line at one point, but safe to say this will still be a game Lodi will want to forget.
CM: Ryan Yates – 5/10 – Never managed to get a foothold in the game.
CM: Remo Freuler – 6/10 – Was completely overrun by Arsenal’s press.
CM: Cheikhou Kouyate – 7/10 – One of the only Forest players to look halfway decent today.
RW: Morgan Gibbs-White – 5/10 – Utterly ineffectual. Should he really be playing on the wing?
LW: Jesse Lingard – 5/10 – Jeered off by the Arsenal fans, which says it all really.
ST: Taiwo Awoniyi – 5/10 – Can’t expect your poacher to score goals if you never enter the penalty area.
SUB: Brennan Johnson (56′ for Gibbs-White) – 5/10 – Forgettable.
SUB: Emmanuel Dennis (56′ for Lingard) – 5/10 – Even more forgettable.
SUB: Joe Worrall (64′ for Awoniyi) – 6/10 – Didn’t do anything wrong of note, but the game was already dead.
SUB: Neco Williams (64′ for Lodi) – 7/10 – A surprising bright spark of sorts, looking like the only Forest player with a chance of making things happen in the second half.
SUB: Lewis O’Brien (81′ for Kouyate) – N/A
Manager: Steve Cooper – 6/10 – Not really sure whether Cooper can be blamed or not. This team still looks like a team of strangers, but that’s hardly a surprise. Still, after the win over Liverpool last week, such a heavy defeat will feel like a disappointment to Cooper.