The Gunners returned to action following a 10-day break that last saw a 5-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the Emirates, with Leandro Trossard netting and both Gabriel Magalhães and Gabriel Martinelli bagging a brace respectively.
A late kick-off on Tuesday night saw Arsenal return to the City Ground for the first time since last season, a day that left a sour taste in the mouths of every Arsenal fan. The fixture last year saw Arsenal beaten 1-0, more significantly it finally crowned Manchester City Premier League champions for the third year running.
An hour before kick-off saw a pleasant surprise for gooners worldwide, Emile Smith Rowe was set to make his first start in this Premier League for 4+ months. To be more specific, it was his first since October 2023.
The game ended 2-1 the Arsenal through goals from Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, and Taiwo Awoniyi respectively. The gunners had ultimately found a way to overcome a resilient Forest side and solidify their revenge from last year, securing six from six against them this season.
Smith Rowe was replaced after 71 minutes by German international Kai Havertz. Despite not registering a goal or assist, he looked full of confidence and a strong desire to impact the game. You certainly wouldn’t have known he was a player just coming back from a substantial set of injuries.
When asked about Emile in his post-match interview, Mikel said: “I’m really pleased with Emile as well because it’s been a long time since he had an opportunity to start a game. He’s been training really well, really sharp.”
When asked what impressed him about the display, Mikel went on to further state: “That he went for it, that he was free, he was flowing, he was moving, he was participating, his body language was good – he’s just a beautiful footballer to watch.”
“I’m really pleased because he was really connected with the team and I thought he played the game in a really good way.”
Whilst I’d regard myself as a pretty good analyst of performances, I certainly don’t have the eye and knowledge of the Arsenal boss. We know how high the standards and expectations are now at Arsenal, and Mikel certainly wouldn’t be full of praise had they not been met.
We know Mikel will now only be demanding more and more from Emile, but I’m sure it’s a challenge he will relish. Everyone associated with Arsenal will now be hoping the Croydon De Bruyne can stay injury-free and once again, set the league alight.
And we can now hope to once again hear the chant ringing around the Emirates…… “Saka and Emile Smith Roweeeeeee.”