What We Learned from Nottingham Forest’s Victory over Arsenal and Their Confirmation of Top Security against Manchester City

    On Saturday night, with all eyes on the City Ground, Nottingham Forest picked up a season-deciding 1-0 victory over a devastated Arsenal.

    In a showdown that turned out to be decisive at both ends of the Premier League table, Taiwo Avoni’s first-half result also officially confirmed that Manchester City would lift the top division crown this season.

    Likewise, after showing their season’s best performance on home soil and losing just one of their previous five Premier League fixtures, Forest’s famous 1-0 victory also confirmed their top-notch safety with one game to go.

    Backed by strong home support at the City Ground, Steve Cooper’s team certainly cashed in on an Arsenal team that played like a team that had already admitted their title dreams were over.

    Needing a little miracle here, the Gunners have failed to find any fluidity and will no doubt be heartbroken by their collapse over the past six weeks.

    What did we learn from the game that proved to be decisive for both on Saturday night, when it was confirmed that Manchester City would get their hands on another Premier League crown?

    Arsenal limping to the finish line

    While Mikel Arteta’s young team may have returned from the March international break, dreaming of a chance to make real Premier League history, Arsenal have come crashing down.

    After putting on a nightmarish spectacle last weekend when they lost 3-0 at home to Brighton, Saturday’s visitors seem to have resigned themselves to their fate.

    Now having won just a couple of their last eight Premier League matches in a row – a streak that dates back to a 4-1 win over Leeds on April 1 – Arsenal’s title downfall is largely due to their rather egregious defensive struggles.

    Inspired by a trip to Manchester City last month when they suffered a decisive 4-1 defeat, Arteta’s side have now remarkably recorded just two clean sheets in any of their last 13 matches in all competitions.

    Eliminated from the Europa League on 16 March by Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal have clearly struggled to fill the void left by the injured William Saliba.

    While the Gunners may have worked their way to a profitable return to the Champions League this season, there may be some fans in north London who will be disappointed by the end of Arsenal’s campaign.

    Forest storm makes its way to Premier League safety

    While it may be Arsenal’s miscalculation, a decisive season that will grab the most headlines on Saturday night, Nottingham Forest don’t care less as Cooper’s side have secured the Premier League with time to spare.

    Watching Everton draw a breathless equalizer against Wolverhampton earlier in the day, the fans around the City Ground must have known their team was about to put on a show here.

    What’s more, having earned all three points and continuing to build a reputation for their gritty performances on home soil, Forest is no doubt looking back on their return to the top flight as a hugely successful campaign.

    Now, for the first time in 27 years, he has spent consecutive seasons in the Premier League and the former Swansea boss is also to be commended after passing a huge number of checks.

    While Cooper may have seen his position at the City Ground come under serious pressure on both sides of the World Cup winter break, Saturday’s hosts certainly found the top gear at a crucial moment.

    Undefeated in each of their last five Premier League matches and showing real mental toughness, Forest and Cooper deserve a lot of credit.

    Avoni is the Sheriff of Nottingham.

    While Forest’s 1-0 win here may have been only the first clean sheet Cooper’s side have recorded in their last 16 home games in a row, it was their attacking talisman that once again stole the show.

    Although the hosts have struggled defensively since returning to the top flight this season, the hosts on Saturday have certainly found a clinical advantage in the final third.

    By kicking off May with a decisive 4-3 victory over Southampton at the City Ground, Avoni cemented his place as a modern day hero at Nottingham.

    Having won the double after Cooper’s team played 2-2 away to Chelsea last weekend, the former Liverpool striker has scored five goals in just three previous Premier League games.

    Although the 25-year-old may have dealt with some long-term injuries at the start of the year, Avoni stepped in after returning from the March international hiatus.

    With 10 Premier League goals this season and one of only two players at the City Ground to reach double figures, Avoniy has also written his name into Forest folklore in the first half.

    Match report

    Nottingham Forest: Navas, Worrall, Felipe, Niahate, Aurier, Yates, Mangala, Lodi, Gibbs-White, Danilo, Avoni

    Subscriptions: Pain, Kouyate, Johnson, Hennessy

    Arsenal: Ramsdale, Partey, White, Gabriel, Kivior, Xhaka, Jorginho, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Trossard

    Subscriptions: Vieira, Nketiah, Tierney

    Goals: Avonia (19′)

    Yellow cards: Nottingham Forest: Niahate, Gibbs-White, Avoni – Arsenal: Jesus, Gabriel

    Red cards: N/A

    Judge: Anthony Taylor

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