Player ratings as Awoniyi strike seals Premier League safety

Nottingham Forest sealed their place in next season’s Premier League campaign with a 1-0 win over Arsenal that also handed the title to Manchester City in the process.

Mikel Arteta introduced a strange new system which left the Gunners looking completely disjointed from start to finish, and Taiwo Awoniyi’s first-half goal will go down in history as one of the biggest in recent history.

A full-throttle start from Forest led to some nervy moments for Arsenal, but the Gunners found their footing eventually and started to play some delicious football. Keylor Navas got out quick to end one such move but was a little fortunate as Gabriel Jesus’ header lofted up and narrowly onto the roof of the net.

It was Forest, however, who drew first blood. Morgan Gibbs-White led an electric counter before slotting through Awoniyi, who was fortunate to deflect Gabriel’s attempted clearance back into an open net.

With a Forest win enough to secure survival for the hosts and deliver the Premier League title to Manchester City, Arsenal’s desire to respond was clear although their performance turned scrappy and uncomfortable as Forest dropped back to defend their much-needed points.

This new-look Arsenal boasted over 80% possession in the first half but rarely looked like testing Navas before the break.

The same narrative continued into the second half, but Arsenal did threaten to make something happen when Bukayo Saka got behind his man and fired a shot directly into the body of the relieved Navas.

Gibbs-White drove into the side netting soon after following yet another defensive slip-up from Arsenal, before Renan Lodi’s effort went fizzing across goal.

Arsenal continued to limply knock on the door but never really looked like getting through before the full-time whistle blew to seal the fate of Forest, Arsenal and Manchester City.

GK: Keylor Navas – 6/10 – Wasn’t made to work particularly hard.

CB: Joe Worrall – 7/10 – Could hardly have had less to do if he tried. Arsenal’s left side was almost non-existent.

CB: Felipe – 7/10 – A real defensive anchor. Put his body on the line and looked physically exhausted when he came off.

CB: Moussa Niakhate – 7/10 – Some really huge throw-ins which caused chaos for Arsenal.

RM: Serge Aurier – 8/10 – Almost like a day off, such was the lack of threat from Arsenal’s left wing. Absolutely dominated that side of the pitch.

CM: Orel Mangala – 7/10 – A real defensive force. Had to work incredibly hard but clearly relished the battle.

CM: Ryan Yates – 6/10 – Put himself about admirably to help Forest’s cause.

LM: Renan Lodi – 7/10 – Determined to fit Saka in his pocket. Really, really impressive in one of the league’s toughest tasks.

AM: Morgan Gibbs-White – 7/10 – Electric on the counter to set up Awoniyi. An absolute pest from the first minute until the last.

AM: Danilo – 5/10 – Looked a little nervous and made a handful of shaky decisions which did not help his side.

ST: Taiwo Awoniyi – 7/10 – Predictably bullish as he gave Arsenal’s defence a torrid time. Fortunate for his goal but deserved that luck.


Cheikhou Kouyate (72′ for Danilo) – 6/10

Brennan Johnson (79′ for Awoniyi) – N/A

Willy Boly (79′ for Felipe) – N/A

Wayne Hennessey (98′ for Navas) – N/A

Subs not used: Boly, Toffolo, Freuler, Ayew, Surridge, Dennis, Johnson


Steve Cooper – 7/10 – Swallowed his pride and did what was needed to get the result. Forest barely even touched the ball all game, but who cares? Forest are safe.

GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 5/10 – Didn’t inspire confidence as he rushed off his line to try and stop Forest on the counter.

RB: Thomas Partey – 2/10 – Felt like he was told about this tactical shift about two minutes before kick-off. Quite clearly had no idea what he was doing.

CB: Ben White – 4/10 – Slow in possession as Forest gave him plenty of time on the ball. Didn’t really look like creating anything.

CB: Gabriel Magalhaes – 5/10 – Unfortunate that his challenge to disrupt Awoniyi’s opener ended up deflecting in off the striker.

LB: Jakub Kiwior – 3/10 – Hasn’t really convinced as a centre-back yet in England, let alone in an unfamiliar left-back role. Looked like he didn’t know how to play the position.

DM: Jorginho – 3/10 – So slow and safe in possession. 30-yard strikes high and wide were never really what Arsenal needed. Too slow getting back as well.

CM: Granit Xhaka – 3/10 – Xhaka looked like he has already checked out. Offered nothing going forward at all and his lack of composure in his own box was a real problem.

CM: Martin Odegaard – 4/10 – It was Odegaard’s misplaced pass that led to Forest’s opener. Kicked off a quiet, timid performance.

RW: Bukayo Saka – 4/10 – Who is this and what have they done with Saka?

ST: Gabriel Jesus – 3/10 – His form from the start of the season has completely deserted Jesus. Looked unsure how to impact proceedings.

LW: Leandro Trossard – 3/10 – Arsenal didn’t even try down the left wing. Whether that was tactical or down to Trossard’s inefficiency is up to you.


Kieran Tierney (63′ for Kiwior) – 5/10

Eddie Nketiah (63′ for Xhaka) – 5/10

Fabio Vieira (70′ for Trossard) – 5/10

Subs not used: Turner, Holding, Walters, Bandeira, Smith Rowe, Cozier-Duberry


Mikel Arteta – 2/10 – Why? Why do this now? Why try get clever with a system that your players quite clearly are not comfortable in?

Player of the match – Serge Aurier (Nottingham Forest)