Arsenal kicked off their 2023-24 Premier League campaign with an early Saturday showdown with Nottingham Forest. The Gunners, who finished second last season despite leading the table for most of the campaign, hosted the Reds in a highly-anticipated fixture.
All eyes were on Mikel Arteta's men and whether they could show early signs of another title race. While things were cagey at first, Eddie Nketiah's goal in the 26th minute opened things up for the Gunners. The Englishman broke the deadlock after a lovely piece of work for Gabriel Martinelli, with the striker beating former teammate Matt Turner. And then came Bukayo Saka.
The Three Lions winger started the game and was their most lively attacker from kick-off. And six minutes after the opening goal, the 21-year-old doubled Arsenal's lead with an outrageous goal.
The Hale End academy product took the ball in the half space and curled an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net, leaving even Kai Havertz grabbing his head in shock. Check out the goal in the clips below (videos are geo-restricted).
There's nothing like a BANGER from Bukayo Saka! pic.twitter.com/OFv20KvXjV— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 12, 2023
STOP THAT, BUKAYO SAKA!— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) August 12, 2023
Watch live on TNT Sports & discovery+ pic.twitter.com/eC0BDyjrtP
This worldie sent Twitter into meltdown, with fans flocking to X (previously known as Twitter) to hail the young Englishman. However, despite boasting a 2-0 lead by the break, things were not all positive for Arteta's men.
Every time he scores a goal like that I realise I keep sleeping on Saka has one of the best wingers ITW because he isn't at Real Madrid or whoever https://t.co/8PjqygPcso— Euro (@EuroExpert_) August 12, 2023
Havertz' reaction to Saka's goal pic.twitter.com/aQy77ebnZK— HT (@half_turn) August 12, 2023
That's a replica goal of the spin & long shot that Saka scored vs Ukraine back in March. This evolution of him as a more central threat as well as in wide 1v1s is also the step that Mo Salah took at Roma/upon his return to England. It's going to help Saka reach phenomenal levels. pic.twitter.com/i9vpSxJ7YJ— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) August 12, 2023
Summer signing Jurrien Timber, who had been impressive throughout the preseason, hurt himself just before the break while tackling an opponent. Surprisingly, though, he did not come off at half-time and started the second half.
This proved to be a costly error as the Dutchman went down in pain shortly after the match resumed, with Takehiro Tomiyasu coming on to replace the limping defender.