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The Premier League is back with a bang as the Saturday action begins at 12:30pm and continues until around 8pm with the new timekeeping rules. Kicking off our Saturday afternoon, we have one of the title favorites, Arsenal, hosting a resilient Nottingham Forest side in an enticing matchup.
With this match televised as the early kick-off, we have delved deep into the research using our world-famous cheat sheet to support any bets you might be interested in placing.
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Arsenal stats: Can Gunners build on defeating the champions?
It wasn’t a thriller by any stretch of our imagination, but Arsenal managed to accomplish what they had failed to do last year: defeat Manchester City. A team that seemed invincible, City conceded a late equalizer before the Gunners defeated them on penalties last weekend to win the Community Shield. A market we will consider later, corners, saw Arsenal enjoy some success last week. Arsenal’s 5 corners surpassed City’s average conceded from last season of 2.35 by a significant margin.
The new signings of Rice, Havertz, and Timber all started at Wembley, with the latter impressing the most. Jurrien Timber’s £34 million deal from Ajax is already looking like a steal if he can solidify his role in that left-back position. A versatile defender, similar to Ben White on the other side, gives Arsenal a depth of strength that ultimately saw their season fizzle out last year.
Adding to this, they have the returning trio of Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and Martin Odegaard who will play behind Havertz. One of the most creative trios in the league brings one of the highest chance creation rates, which should see the Gunners shine this year.
Arsenal team news
Timber is expected to start ahead of Oleksandr Zinchenko who is suffering with a calf injury. The likes of Reiss Nelson, Folarin Balogun and Sambi Lokonga may not be risked on the opening day with all 3 carrying minor knocks.
Therefore, Arsenal will be expected to line up in their usual 4-3-3 with high wing backs and wingers making runs inside to full-backs to exploit their stronger feet.
Nottingham Forest stats: A tough start to their second campaign
Nottingham Forest did incredibly well to avoid relegation in the latter part of the previous season but have encountered a tough preseason and might face difficulties in the upcoming season. In preseason matches against Championship teams Leeds, Rennes, PSV, and Frankfurt, Forest has suffered a combined 8-0 defeat. This includes conceding 2.58 xG to Frankfurt and 3.72 to Rennes.
The outlook appears gloomy for Forest, especially in their attacking efforts. With just 6 shots on target in these friendly matches, it’s challenging to identify where the goals will originate. One player that Forest will heavily rely upon is England U21’s captain, Morgan Gibbs-White.
Nottingham Forest team news
The notable story to highlight from the Nottingham Forest camp is that Matt Turner has switched from the home dressing room to the away one today, as he appears set to start as the goalkeeper for Forest.
There were positive signs as Brennan Johnson managed to get some minutes off the bench against Frankfurt, but it is anticipated that he won’t be risked. Forced to watch from the sidelines, he will be joined by starting center-back Felipe and possibly Moussa Niakhate, which should lead to a shake-up in the back 5. Speaking of this defensive lineup, right wing-back Serge Aurier will be returning to North London, and the former Spurs man can expect a challenging reception from the crowd and from Martinelli.
Arsenal v Nottingham Forest Cheat Sheet
If you’ve never heard of the Cheat Sheet, it’s super simple to understand and will help give you an edge when it comes to picking bets. Essentially, the cheat sheet provides you with a collection of stats for a given game. In this case, we have the Arsenal v Nottingham Forest stats to share with you.
The Cheat Sheet is split in half to make the Arsenal v Nottingham Forest stats that bit more digestible. All of the major elements of the sheet will be broken down in this article.
🎯 Offensive stats: Home corners & Saka shots could be the value play
Arsenal will likely dominate this game from start to finish, and with their high wing-backs, they should control the wide areas, creating 2v1 matchups against the Forest full-backs. This was demonstrated last year when Arsenal averaged 5.87 corners per game, while Forest conceded 6.29 corners per game.
One of the main factors to consider regarding Arsenal’s corners is the ball-carrying ability of Arsenal’s pair of midfielders (8’s) in drawing the full-backs inside for coverage. Furthermore, their exceptional passing range allows the full-backs to maintain their width for delivering crosses, confident that they will receive the ball. Arsenal managed to earn 5 corners in the Community Shield against a City side that conceded the fewest corners in England last year. Before the City game, Arsenal had 9 corners against Monaco. With their set-piece coach prepared, Arsenal will be eager to utilize the wide areas to create set-piece opportunities, which is why we find value in the corner market.
Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka is poised for an exceptional season, and it begins at the Emirates with a favorable matchup. Nottingham Forest, as shown in the graphic below, conceded 184 shots from the right-hand side and 24 goals in the league last season. For comparison to highlight how well Saka aligns, the shot map of the Arsenal winger is also provided below.
Bukayo Saka shot map from the 22/23 Premier League season (Source: Statsbomb)
Nottingham Forest shots against map from the 22/23 Premier League season (Source: Statsbomb)
With 86 shots and the responsibility of taking penalties, Saka poses a significant goal threat. He will also be eager to make up for last year’s match against Forest where he was injured early. To underscore the quality of this matchup, Reiss Nelson, his replacement, scored twice, and the other winger Gabriel Martinelli also found the net.
Saka maintains an average of 0.82 shots on target (SOTs) per game, with 1 or more shots on target in 5 of his last 6 matches to conclude the previous season. He then participated in England duty, recording 5 shots on target in 2 games. During preseason, Saka has produced 2 shots on target in favorable matchups against teams like Nurnberg and Barcelona.
🛑 Defensive stats: Cards could fly in a potentially feisty affair
It’s been a tumultuous return to English football with the new changes to the rulebook. In the EFL, the average number of cards per game surged last weekend. The card statistics for the 22/23 season stood at an average of 4.03 per game in the Championship, 3.87 in League One (L1), and 3.67 in League Two (L2). However, last weekend witnessed averages of 5.11 in the Championship, 5.75 in L1, and 6.45 in L2, as referees cracked down on gamesmanship, resulting in longer game durations.
These two teams accumulated 5 cards in total at the conclusion of the previous season, with each side receiving at least two cards. Nottingham Forest tends to collect a significant number of cards, averaging the 3rd highest in the league last year at 2.21 per game. Coincidentally, Arsenal also averaged exactly 2.21 cards against, also ranking 3rd highest.
From a tactical perspective, Arsenal will have the opportunity to exploit the space left behind Forest’s wing-backs, who often maintain their width. Forest is likely to adopt a counter-attacking approach, targeting Arsenal through the middle with players like Gibbs-White and Awoniyi, who contribute pace and hold-up play. Declan Rice and Thomas Partey both have a high rank in terms of fouls committed and could be candidates for receiving cards in this match.
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