Bukayo Saka celebrates his potent strike from outside the area that gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead over Nottingham Forest in Premier League Matchday 1 action on 12 August 2023 at Emirates Stadium in London. Arsenal won 2-1. EFE/EPA/VINCE MIGNOTT.

Arsenal, Newcastle kick off Premier League campaigns with convincing wins

Sports Desk, Aug 12 (EFE).- Arsenal, the runner-up in the previous Premier League season, got their 2023-2024 campaign off to a strong start with a 2-1 win Saturday over Nottingham Forest.

Arsenal's Jurrien Timber suffered an injury in Premier League Matchday 1 action against Nottingham Forest at Emirates Stadium in London, United Kingdom, on 12 August 2023. Arsenal won 2-1. EFE/EPA/VINCE MIGNOTT.

Newcastle United, who finished fourth last season to secure a place in the Champions League for the first time in two decades, routed Aston Villa 5-1 in other Matchday 1 action.

Newcastle United's Alexander Isak celebrates one of the two goals he scored in Premier League action at St. James' Park in Newcastle, United Kingdom, against Aston Villa on 12 August 2023. Newcastle won 5-1. EFE/EPA/PETER POWELL.

The Gunners’ one-goal margin of victory did not tell the whole story of the match at Emirates Stadium, where the home team enjoyed a near-monopoly on possession and took 15 shots to their opponents’ six.

Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings suffered an apparently serious knee injury during Premier League action at St. James' Park in Newcastle, United Kingdom, on 12 August 2023 against Newcastle United and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. Newcastle won 5-1. EFE/EPA/PETER POWELL.

Arsenal escaped an early scare in the 11th minute when a header near midfield set up Nottingham’s Brennan Johnson for a one-on-one chance against net minder Aaron Ramsdale.

The Welsh international got the ball over the onrushing goalie’s head, but he lacked the necessary touch on the shot to bring it down under the crossbar.

The visitors then paid dearly for that missed opportunity when Gabriel Martinelli beat a pair of defenders with a nifty spin move before leaving the ball in the area for Eddie Nketiah, who dribbled to his right to find space and then powered a right-footed shot that found the back of the net in minute 25.

Arsenal doubled their lead seven minutes later when Bukayo Saka glided to his left just outside the penalty area and sent a curling, unstoppable left-footed blast to the upper far corner of the goal.

However, the celebration in London was marred by an apparent knee injury suffered late in the first half by newly signed Jurrien Timber.

The Dutchman was making his Premier League debut and tried to continue after the break but eventually had to leave the game in the 49th minute.

The home side’s domination continued until late in the contest, with Nottingham goalie Matt Turner having to make an outstanding save of a shot by Declan Rice in the 76th minute to keep the deficit at two.

Forest, however, came alive in the final stretch, pulling one back on a lightning counterattack in which Anthony Elanga raced down the left side of the field and set up Taiwo Awoniyi for a goal at close-range in the 82nd minute.

That goal was too little, too late, however, as Arsenal held on to record three points.

Elsewhere, Newcastle got their season off to a flying start in a contest that was nearly even in terms of time of possession but lopsided on the scoreboard.

The Magpies opened the scoring at St. James’ Park in the sixth minute when Sandro Tonali booted home a perfectly placed cross by Anthony Gordon, only for Villa to answer five minutes later on a nifty half-volley off the foot of Moussa Diaby.

But it was all Newcastle from that point onward.

Tonali also was involved in Newcastle’s second goal, sending a shot into the area in the 16th minute that Sven Botman directed toward Alexander Isak for a goal near the penalty mark.

Just shy of the one-hour mark, Isak scored his 12th goal in 28 appearances in a Newcastle jersey when he took advantage of a defender’s error and delicately chipped a shot over the head of Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, the top netminder at the 2022 World Cup.

The visitors had a chance to reduce the lead to one goal a few moments later, but Matty Cash squandered a golden chance when he fired a close-range shot well over the crossbar.

The Magpies then proceeded to pour it on in the closing minutes of the contest, extending their lead to 4-1 with a goal by Callum Wilson in the 77th minute and getting one final score from Harvey Barnes on the counter-attack in second-half stoppage time.

Besides the heavy defeat, Aston Villa suffered a bad day on the injury front when center back Tyrone Mings suffered an apparently serious leg injury and was taken off the field on a stretcher. EFE