BUKAYO SAKA suffered a serious World Cup scare by limping out of the rout which sent Arsenal back to the Premier League summit. 

But his replacement, Reiss Nelson, stole the show with two goals and an assist inside eight minutes early in the second half as rock-bottom Forest were torn apart at the Emirates. 

Reiss Nelson netted an unlikely brace as Arsenal thrashed Nottingham Forest

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Reiss Nelson netted an unlikely brace as Arsenal thrashed Nottingham ForestCredit: Getty
Bukayo Saka was forced off injured in the first-half

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Bukayo Saka was forced off injured in the first-halfCredit: Getty
Nelson scores his first of the game to put Arsenal 2-0 ahead

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Nelson scores his first of the game to put Arsenal 2-0 aheadCredit: Reuters

Saka, who had teed up an early opener for Gabriel Martinelli, seemed to injure his left ankle twice early on – once after a nasty challenge from Forest full-back Renan Lodi – and was replaced by Nelson after just 27 minutes. 

With England’s World Cup opener against Iran just three weeks, and Saka having been in outstanding form, it could prove a sickener for Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate. 

But while there have been questions asked about the depth of Mikel Arteta’s squad, Nelson suggested Arsenal really have got something in reserve.  

After unimpressive loan spells in Germany and Holland, and having scored just once in 23 previous Premier League appearances, Nelson netted twice in three minutes to settle this match shortly after half-time. 

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Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard both added emphatic finishes and Gabriel Jesus squandered a hatful of chances as Arsenal went back over Manchester City at the top of the table.

Arsenal arrived off the back of a wobbly week – losing momentum, and the lead, in their draw at Southampton, then copping a Europa League defeat at PSV Eindhoven. 

And Cooper’s £150million pick-and-mix collection had stunned Liverpool last weekend, to make this contest look less of a home banker than it might have looked. 

Still, Arteta’s side began with a serious intent and were ahead within five minutes. 

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Martinell located Saka on the right wing, then kept on running towards the six-yard box as the England winger wrapped his foot around an artful left-cross, which the Brazilian met with a stooping header, masterfully guided inside the near post.

It was some finish and it was Martinelli’s sixth goal of a season in which he is announcing himself as a proper elite player. 

Saka then kippered Jesse Lingard and fed Jesus who beat his man and curled a shot just wide of the far post.  

It had been an excellent start from Saka but, having fallen awkwardly between the goal-line and the advertising hoardings, he was the victim of a poor challenge from full-back Lodi, which went unpunished by ref Simon Hooper.

Saka struggled on for some time but after 27 minutes, he limped off and was replaced by Nelson.

By that time Lodi had made a goal-line clearance to deny Martinelli a second.

Gabriel Martinelli paid tribute to Pablo Mari after scoring the opener

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Gabriel Martinelli paid tribute to Pablo Mari after scoring the openerCredit: Reuters
Nelson sweeps home his second

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Nelson sweeps home his secondCredit: Reuters

When Forest did create an opener, Cheikhou Kouyate robbing Partey and releasing Lingard, the former Manchester United man shot so far wide his effort almost went off for a throw-in.

Morgan Gibbs-White escaped with a yellow card for a reckless challenge on Granit Xhaka. 

But Arsenal ended the first half looking panicky – Gabriel Magalhaes passing straight to Lingard in the box but Ben White making a diving block.

Still, there was nothing panicky about Arsenal’s start to the second period and within an eight-minute spell 1-0 became 4-0. 

First Partey’s pass split the Forest defence, Xhaka squared for Jesus, who laid off for Nelson.

The sub’s first-effort was parried by Dean Henderson but the second was thumped into the roof of the net.   

Nelson did not have to wait long for his second – netting a scuffed volley, after some Martin Odegaard trickery, then Jesus centring low to the near post.

Cooper hauled off Lingard and Gibbs-White but almost instantly, it was four – Partey spanking home from 20 yards after a cut-back from Nelson. 

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Jesus, though, couldn’t buy a goal – denied by Henderson’s foot after Odegaard had sent him bearing down on goal, then passing up an effort which he should have buried at the far post. 

But Odegaard lashed home the fifth after good work from Partey and Jesus as the Gunners ran riot.

Thomas Partey netted a stunner to make it 4-0

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Thomas Partey netted a stunner to make it 4-0Credit: Getty
Martin Odegaard completed the rout 12 minutes from time

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Martin Odegaard completed the rout 12 minutes from timeCredit: EPA


https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/20268967/arsenal-nottingham-forest-report-saka-nelson-martinelli/