A big win: Reflections from the away end after Arsenal's 2-1 victory at Forest

A good day out in West Bridgeford was had by Paul Brooker and pals as Arsenal beat Forest 2-1 this week

A big win: Reflections from the away end after Arsenal's 2-1 victory at Forest

The view from the away end at the City Ground, Nottingham as Arsenal beat Forest 2-1 on Tuesday evening. CREDIT: @laythy29

This article first appeared in Goonerholics Forever, written by Paul Brooker aka Countryman100.

Many thanks to Paul and Goonerholics Forever for their kind permission to use such an excellent piece. 


I like Nottingham, 

All the Midlands games are amongst my favourites, Villa, Leicester, Wolves.

But I particularly like coming to Nottingham.

In West Bridgeford, for those of a sporting inclination, you are spoilt for choice.

On the River Trent, athletic looking men and women propel row boats around, although, in January, it’s a chilly old pursuit.

Dominating the scene as you come over the bridge from the City proper is the grand and historic old cricket ground of Trent Bridge, where I have tickets to watch a day of the test match against the West Indies in July.

As an aside I will also be watching cricket at Lords and the Oval. These are the activities, together with watching The Arsenal, inter alia, that fill the days of a retired and sport loving gentleman. For those of you still punching the clock I say to you, your time will come.

In late January, Trent Bridge shivers and waits for summer, but takes part in the winter sporting life by opening its car parks and hostelries for those going to the football at Forest or Notts County, just the other side of the river.

The City ground is just 10 minutes from Trent Bridge – more of that shortly. But first on the agenda was food and an old favourite.

Hard by Trent Bridge, opposite the Trent Bridge Inn (now, alas, a Weatherspoon’s. O tempora! O mores!) lies the Bombay, Bridgeford.

We pushed open the door and immediately walked into enticing aromas and, at 545pm before a 730pm kick off, absolutely heaving, with every table taken, mostly by folk in Forest replica shirts.

Luckily, anticipating this, I had booked and we were quickly shown to our table.

Poppadum’s and Cobra beer were quickly served. The first mouthful of Cobra, as always, hit the spot. We gave our attention to the menu, which is broad and eclectic, the standard dishes mixed in with ones you will never have heard of.

We ordered curries, dhals, rice and of course naan breads. The naan breads at the Bombay are the best I have had in this country and, as regular readers will know, I have some experience in these matters. The service was impeccable and all the food tasty.

As we reached the filling up corners stage the team news came in.

To our delight, ESR was in the starting XI. Declan and big Gabi made it through their late fitness tests.

Replete, and ready for football, we paid up and made our way to the City ground.

Forest’s home, like all the most evocative grounds, is reached through streets of terraced houses. The set up for away fans is perfect, giving us about two thirds of the Bridgeford lower tier. We were towards the corner flag, about nine rows back, with a fine view.

Around 2,800 enthusiastic Gooners joined us (more than 5% of the capacity as is normal – naturally we sold out our full allocation at, I believe, 15 credits).

Now we all know that, as a club, Forest’s zenith was in the late 70s, early 80s when, under Clough and Taylor, they won the league and the European Cup (twice).

Their pre match big screen entertainment focused almost exclusively on this era, with the green sweat shirted sardonic features of Brian Clough seen extensively.

As the game began, with Arsenal kicking away from us, a ritual call and response is required by contract when we visit Forest or Villa (West Ham have started doing it as well which is, frankly, risible)

Champions of Europe! You’ll never sing that!

Champions of Europe! You weren’t even born!

Exchanges complete, we settled into the game. A familiar pattern quickly emerged. Forest fell into a disciplined low block, with little enthusiasm to get forward.

We made lots of passes, had a huge amount of possession (about 80%) but we rarely tested Arsenal old boy Matt Turner, were a bit slow recycling the ball and seemed to be trying to score the perfect goal (never heard that before).

Smith–Rowe was bright and effective and almost played Jesus in but he put it just over. Gooners were supportive and loud in their singing but there was a feeling of frustration as the half time whistle went with the game scoreless.

It appeared that we are still struggling with the low block. We were firing in shots but they were being blocked.

Halftime: Forest 0-0 Arsenal

We started the second half much better, moving the ball quicker and swapping our front three around to pull the defenders out of position. Odegaard was everywhere, pressing hard, recycling the ball, involved in everything. Saka was looking dangerous, Martinelli less so. I increasing think I would like to see Martinelli and Jesus swap positions.

But we were getting behind the Forest defence as they tired and we raised our level. Odegaard laid in Saka who struck a good right foot shot, partially deflected, towards the corner of the goal.

We were right in line with it and it took a good save from Turner to deny our golden boy. A lovely piece of football saw interplay between Saka and Odegaard before Jesus was laid in on the six yard line. He struck his shot with power, but it rebounded from the junction of the post and the bar. Should have scored really.

The pressure and our patience was telling. Our forward press, led by Odegaard and Rice, kept winning the ball back in the Forest half.

On 65 minutes we forced a throw in on the Forest right. Zinchenko took a quick throw in to Jesus in space in the area (when I watched a replay of the game this morning I heard the TNT commentator say “the flag stays down”.

Of course it stayed down you numpty. You can’t be offside from a throw in). Jesus did what we’ve been imploring the team to do which was to drive in on goal and shoot. His powerful shot squeezed through Matt Turner’s legs (I say credit a great finish) and we were one up.

From the Bridgeford lower after the limbs had subsided, an aria rose into the cold Nottingham air.

Oh Mik Arteta called him.

Said now’s your time to shine.

‘Cos I’m collecting Gabi’s

And I’m going to make you mine!

They say he walks on water

And turns it into wine

Oh I believe in Jesus

He’s Arsenal’s number nine!

Forest 0-1 Arsenal (Jesus 65 minutes)

We were moving smoothly through the transitions as Forest pushed forwards. Another great move saw Jesus to ?degaard to Saka (this combo worked so well last night) whose fierce shot was blocked. After 70 minutes Havertz came on for ESR who had made an excellent contribution.

Forest gave the ball away badly in midfield. Odegaard picked the ball up and put Jesus away on the left. He made ground rapidly and made an excellent pass to Saka, unmarked in the inside right position in the box. He took one touch and then rifled in a right footed shot into the corner of the net. Turner had no chance. A great goal.

This time it really was pandemonium in the Bridgeford end. We were sure that was the winner. And when everything calmed down and glasses and phones had been retrieved, Saka’s song rent the air.

Bukayo Saka!

Running down the wing


Hear the Arsenal sing


We’re gonna win the league!

Forest 0-2 Arsenal (Saka 72 minutes)

Now the choir was in full voice. We ran through the repertoire, including informing the Forest fans that they had only come to see The Arsenal. And of course that we won the league at Anfield, we won it at the Lane, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford (no-one can say the same). So Paddy got up got a rare airing.

As the clock ticked around to 77 minutes, Jesus, who had been excellent, came off for Eddie, and Martinelli left for Trossard. We learnt later that Jesus had been carrying a knock but insisted on playing. He was the game changer. I love watching Jesus.

Well we’ll just see it out we all thought and we were almost right. Trossard looked very lively, making space for shots and holding the ball up well.

Until, in the 89th minute, a long diagonal went over Zinny’s head (a reprise of the AA/Salah goal from earlier in the season).

The ball was headed towards the penalty spot and Awoniyi bodied Saliba out of the way and tucked it past Raya.

Forest 1-2 Arsenal (Awoniyi 89 minutes)

We faced five plus several minutes of added on time.

We faced one more test of nerve as some head tennis in our area bobbled about but finished safely in Raya’s hands.

The final whistle went and it was celebrations all round. Ben White and Zinny were having words at the final whistle.

Arteta said he doesn’t mind that and the players have to hold each other to account. I 100% agree.

Full time: Forest 1-2 Arsenal

A big win. Not the perfect performance, but taken on balance we played well.

We found a way. Plaudits to Jesus, Odegaard, Rice and Saka. Partey due to come back in. Liverpool awaits on Sunday.

The M1 played silly buggers on the way home but we were back indoors by midnight.

A good, if not great away day out in West Bridgeford.


This article first appeared in Goonerholics Forever, written by Paul Brooker aka Countryman100.

Many thanks to Paul and Goonerholics Forever for their kind permission to use such an excellent piece.

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