Forest v Arsenal – the team and comparison with ’98 ’02 and ’04



by Bulldog Drummond

Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko are both on the injury list for the last two games of the season, as it has become ever clearer to less adept teams that the way to beat Arsenal is to kick out.  With referees reluctant to take much action, the approach has been effective and adds those two players to the list of long term injuries: William Saliba, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny.

In recent times (2018 and 2022) Forest have beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup third round, but in return Arsenal have hammered Forest in two recent meetings in the League Cup (0-4 in 2016, 5-0 in 2019), and of course 5-0 earlier this season at home in the league.  In fact, Arsenal have won the last four league games between the two teams.  The last team Arsenal played at The City Ground in the league was in the last year of the last century.  Martin Keown scored the winning goal.

But one of the key factors about Forest is that they always let at least one goal in at home – it has been 15 games since they managed to play a league match without conceding at least one.

Also on the positive side for Arsenal we are within touching distance of the club’s record number of wins in a season…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 1998 38 23 9 6 68 33 35 78
1 Arsenal 2002 38 26 9 3 79 36 43 87
 1 Arsenal 2004 38 26 12 0 73 26 47 90
2 Arsenal 2023 36 25 6 5 83 42 41 81

What this shows is that although Arsenal will not equal the points totals of either 2002 or the Unbeaten season, the club has already scored more goals this season than in either of those campaigns, and is within a couple of goals of the goal difference achieved in winning the league in 2002.  What’s more the club is already ahead in terms of goal scoring and goal difference, and points of the team that won the league in 1998.

So there is no doubt that the policy of having four players in double figures for goals has worked… for although one scorer might see a club through the season, an injury to him can throw everything off track.  To confirm the record so far it reads as below, and I am including Eddie with his nine goals, for if he can nick one more in these last two games that will create a glorious all-time record of five players in double figures.

Player Starts Subs Goals Pens
9 Gabriel Jesus 25 6 10 1
11 Gabriel Martinelli 40 6 15
14 Eddie Nketiah 18 19 9
8 Martin Odegaard 37 6 15
7 Bukayo Saka 40 6 14 2


Seeing this variety of numbers it is not surprising that if we add the cup competitions to the league scoring record the club is on 98 for the season.

And there is one more record on the table – and thanks to the BBC for this one, “An 11th Premier League clean sheet away from home for Aaron Ramsdale would equal the record by a goalkeeper in a season, held by Petr Cech (2004-05) and Ederson (2018-19).”

As for the team, 90 min offer


White, Kiwior, Magalhaes, Tierney;

Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka;

Saka, Jesus, Trossard.

Sports Mole go with the same team but refer to our defender as Gabriel not as Magalhaes

Pain in the Arsenal however suggest that Nelson will get a run.


White, Kiwior, Gabriel, Tierney;

Partey, Fabio Vieira, Odegaard;

Saka, Jesus, Nelson.

So there you have it.  It starts, as I am certain you know, at 5.30pm.

19 Replies to “Forest v Arsenal – the team and comparison with ’98 ’02 and ’04”

  1. If he is not careful, Jesus is going to be sent off. The constant pulling back is irritating him and he is retaliating.

  2. Well, once again our midfield was outplayed. We were unable to get anything in the middle and our switches were slower than molasses in January. They had ample time to move over and TRIPLE team Saka. Fair play to Forest, they played well and hit the ground and wasted time whenever they could. The referee wasn’t any help as he let Forest pull back our smaller players with impunity but…hard to say that that was the difference. I would say, on the day, we were just too slow. And, unfortunately, some of our players may well be playing themselves off the team for next year.

  3. Agree goingoingooner. I find it disappointing that the team doesn”t seem able to load themselves up for a match (well for a few matches in fact). The disappointment of losing the title race has seemingly taken all the energy out of the team. And so they are giving us a bit of a disappointing finish of the season. Even when the title is lost they still have an obligation towards the (travelling) supporters.

  4. Season ending with a whimper- dissapointing after so much of what has gonebefore.

  5. Walter, yes it is a cumulative thing. But the big improvement is that this season we had just one of these down times, whereas last season we had five of them. So maybe next season we will won’t have one. But I fear Manchester City will continue to win the league year after year – at least until the legal case against them is heard in four years time, and quite possibly after that.

    In reality second place is now a trophy for the clubs not backed by an oil state.

  6. No physical presence up front. Man City have addressed that problem.As at Man City a sloppy negative pass by the same player has done for us. Trossard a huge disappointment while Saka looks a spent force and needs a compltete rest. What has happened to White’s overlapping runs?

  7. Tony,

    There’s more than one Premier League club backed by an oil state, so I guess that means third place is going to be a trophy.

    How many Premier League clubs, other than MCFC, NUFC and AFC, are getting funding from oil states?

  8. Tim, it is not so much the backing of the oil state per se, but the backing to such a degree that the club feels itself able to do anything. To compare Arsenal with the backing of Emirates Airlines and Manchester City, the difference is the Emirates Airlines is after good positive publicity from its sponsorship whereas in Manchester City’s case no one cares at all about the publicity. It is totally a power game.

  9. My point Andrew is that last season we had four whimpering periods, this season it is down to one – that is a major step forward.

  10. Tony, I think we had at least 2 bad periods (the on in January) and the one when we played Liverpool, WHU en Southampton and MC. That is the second one. And if we don’t win against Wolves we will have 3 such bad runs. So there is still room for improvement. But that is what young teams need to do : improve. Finishing second behind financial cheaters is like winning the league

  11. Mick, you make an interesting point about Whites overlapping runs, they have gone missing and it’s detrimental to Saka.
    This is another one I would put partially down to Salibas absence. I am not fortunate enough to have a season tocket, but have been to a few games, and a couple where I have sat high in the stands with a good view on what goes on the pitch.
    One thing I noticed was how integral Saliba was , not just in defending, but s role in starting attacks, and creating calm throughout the team. Saliba really is an exceptional player, especially given his age.
    Back onto Whites overlaps, when Saliba was present, white had the role and confidence to get out and help Saka. When Saliba got injured, there was not the confidence , White seemed dutybound to stay behind and help out Holding or whoever played in defence. This robbed Saka of his partner in crime, possibly affecting Sakas confidence.
    Then, losing Tomi in the same game as Saliba compounded the problem, depriving the team of a right back and putting pressure on White. In the other side, losing Zinc wasn’t too clever either with the way we play,
    The loss of Saliba and Tomi in a single game had a major impact through the team, and I don’t say this meaning to disrespect their replacements . White , Saka and Parteys form bombed since we lost those two. Coincidence? I think not .
    Of course there will be other factors at play, but this integral part Saliba ended up playing, and what his loss contributed to within the team must send alarm bells to Arteta and Edu for this summers recruitment. We cannot afford to be so dependant on a 21 year old defender , good as he is.I know Saliba himself had a bit of a dip after the WC but what a loss he was. Of course *Manchester City, for various reasons well documented on here aren’t as likely to suffer from, or as suceptable to injuries as we are, know KDB has missed the odd game, but they get very, very few injuries compared to us.
    Ultimately, we have had an excellent season, with a slightly damp squib of an ending. Just hope the powers that be rein in City so as not to create a Bayern scenario, think they now understand that would not be healthy in this league

  12. Tony,

    The first sentence in my previous post was a reference to NUFC, not AFC, hence the comment ” … third place is going to be a trophy”.

    The second sentence was simply a genuine query to see if you knew of any other Premier League clubs getting money from oil states.

    I have a question about you comment, “To compare Arsenal with the backing of Emirates Airlines and Manchester City, the difference is the Emirates Airlines is after good positive publicity from its sponsorship whereas in Manchester City’s case no one cares at all about the publicity.” Are you suggesting Arsenal are a sportwashing vehicle for Dubai and MCFC are being used by Abu Dhabi for some other purpose?

    Regarding an article you wrote earlier in the week, if MCFC aren’t expelled from the Premier League do you really think the other nineteen Premier League clubs are going to form “The English League”?

  13. What I really don’t understand is the reluctance on KT.I get it maybe he is more suited to providing for a traditional striker than GJ up front but I’m sure he provides more stability at the back. .
    But not picking him what Zinc is out, strange, doesn’t bode well for his future with us. shame, good player

  14. Tim I don’t know what will happen in terms of public opinion, for that is always very hard to guess in advance. But I am trying to find out more about how supporters of teams in France view PSG – and the feeling I get is that people think back to the dominance of Marseille (four consecutive seasons), Lyon (seven consecutive seasons) and feel this happens, and then comes to an end. Although I am not sure too many believe PSG’s dominance will naturally end. But I do think that the Premier League is used to genuine competition and uncertainty and the other 19 clubs are unhappy with what is happening.

  15. The Premier league needs a level of excitement and unpredictability. If * Manchester City have taken that away by breaking rules, they need a pretty harsh punishment, that will serve as a deterrent to the likes of Newcastle and whoever the Qataris buy into next. But interesting to get a view on the French supporters perspective

  16. I think it’s mental fatigue. It was down hill after the sporting game when we lost Saliba and Tomiyasu. Then Zinchenko injury messed up our shape. Compare with Manchester City who have 2 first teams. Easy refs and pundits on our side. There was a lot of pressure on Arsenal including stupid fans putting too much pressues on. Playing against 12 men with quick passes to score as much a possible at the start so refs can’t cheat on arsenal was the key. We lost that transition get fouled too death with no ref protection. There’s so much damage you can take. Well done team and if the truth ever comes out we were deserved champions cause of all this match fixing behind the scenes.

  17. @Mandy I think with the Tierney situation I think Arteta wants him to play like Zinchenko but hasn’t seen that in training. As defensively he is better than Zinny. So may seem him as too defensive. Or he has his eye out of arsenal….

  18. Tony,

    I agree the other nineteen clubs are unhappy. Of course, the clubs most unhappy are those at the top of the Premier League pyramid, because the legal ‘financial doping’ that was once a given for certain clubs is no longer certain; with MCFC’s current strength there are effectively only three Champions League places available.

    Tony, have you written an article regarding the prize money generated by clubs over the last couple of decades? It might be interesting to read what prize money clubs have generated over the period and what the impact increased competition for the Champions League qualification has had on the old Big Three or Four – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United.

  19. Tim, I might be wrong on this but I don’t think prize money details are made public, although I believe that everyone gets quite a lot. It has been reported that the PL champons get over £160m but even relegated teams get £100m. So it really seems insignificant compared to the money that comes from sponsors or secretively for clubs getting under the counter payments.

    If anyone has more info or indeed if anyone would like to write an article, please do put it up here, or write to me directly at

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