With a 5-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest on Sunday, Reiss Nelson emerged as the Premier League’s unlikely champion and helped Arsenal retake the top spot.
Nelson made his Premier League debut this season because England boss Gareth Southgate had to replace Bukayo Saka due to a serious injury only weeks before the World Cup.
After only five minutes, Saka assisted Gabriel Martinelli’s first goal before being substituted due to an ankle injury.
Early in the second half, Nelson scored Arsenal’s first Premier League goal since July 2020, giving them some breathing space.
Three minutes later, he added a second and set up Thomas Partey to curl into the top corner.
Nelson, who spent the previous season on loan at Feyenoord, stated that his performance after his debut “couldn’t have got much better than that.”
“It was a great game to play in once the goals started to come in. I have been preparing so hard in preparation for this chance, so I’m delighted to have got it.”
With a high shot past Dean Henderson 13 minutes from time, Martin Odegaard finished a performance that removed any concerns about Arsenal’s potential to challenge for the title.
By winning, Mikel Arteta’s team moves one point ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.
“It’s great to be here,” Arteta said.
“Winning in this league is never easy, and today we had a challenging game after travelling and playing in Europe, but I think the squad handled it well.”
Before the match, the Arsenal players gathered to encourage their teammate Pablo Mari.
At a knife incident last week in an Italian supermarket that took one life, Mari, who is on loan at Monza, was injured.
After a 1-1 draw against Southampton last weekend and a 2-0 loss to PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League, the event helped put Arsenal’s difficult week on the field into perspective.
The Gunners’ blazing start removed any worries that they were beginning to fatigue from their demanding schedule.
Martinelli opened the floodgates by ducking to avoid Saka’s inviting cross with his head.
But before Arsenal’s trip to Chelsea the following weekend, Arteta is extremely concerned about Saka’s departure.
Arteta said, “He had a really bad kick and he tried, but he could not carry on.”
For the first time in 23 years, Forest had begun to find some form in recent weeks, highlighted by a 1-0 victory against Liverpool the previous weekend.
However, it wasn’t until Takehiro Tomiyasu blocked Jesse Lingard’s shot at the very end of the first half that they ever threatened to trouble the hosts.
After the half, Nelson settled the game swiftly by running past Henderson after his initial shot was saved and turning in Gabriel Jesus’ cross at the near post.
As he touched the ball into the top corner from 25 yards, Partey made it four in impressive style.
Jesus was trying his best to end a seven-game goal drought, but he was forced to accept a second assist when Odegaard found space from his pass and scored the fifth goal.