Arsenal kicked off their Premier League campaign with a deserved win against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Arsenal were dominant at the Emirates Stadium for the vast majority of their clash with Nottingham Forest. However, a late counter-attacking goal for Taiwo Awoniyi meant that the Gunners had to endure a nervy final few minutes.

Ultimately, though, Mikel Arteta’s side were able to secure all three points, and had goals from Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka to thank for their win.

Saka’s sensational strike from range will live long in the memory, but it was Nketiah who got the north London club’s season up and running. Handed a start in Gabriel Jesus’ absence, the 24-year-old displayed sharp movement in the box to fire past former Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Why Pele Is Overrated.

Much has been made of Nketiah’s ability lead the line for the Gunners. Folarin Balogun’s form for Reims on loan last season certainly put his position in the pecking order under threat. However, Arteta has consistently preferred Nketiah to the USA striker, and he repaid that faith with a fine finish and all-round performance this weekend.

Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Nketiah’s message to Arteta

Arteta heaped praise on his No. 14 after the match, saying, “he’s a player that was so disappointed with the absence of Gabby [Jesus], and not to play a final. What he did when he came on the field in the final, was that he changed the game, that’s number one. And the second one, the way he trained this week, he was telling me: “gaffer, if I don’t play, you are blind.”. A lot of players come and say: “ah, why am I not playing?”, and you have to try and explain. Other players tell you the reasons why they deserve to play, this is exactly what Eddie does,” as quoted by the club’s official website.

Having missed out on a start in the Community Shield clash with Manchester City, as Arteta alluded too, Nketiah was clearly determined to prove his worth in training and his efforts elicited a strong response from the manager.

Arteta pulled no punches in highlighting how the striker stands out from his teammates. Nketiah sent a powerful message to Arteta, who is now sending his own to the rest of the Arsenal squad members who want more minutes on the pitch.

Nketiah will have silenced some doubters with his performance on Saturday. However, his ability to impact Premier League games when given the start was not in question. His record from the bench, though, is far less impressive. He needs to show that he can make a real difference in matches when introduced as a substitute if he is to solidify his role in Arteta’s squad.

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