3. Bukayo Saka vs Ola Aina
A Starboy vs Newboy battle is on the cards.
After being rotated frequently in pre-season, Saka should feel refreshed ahead of the new campaign and ready to inflict pain on the visitors’ stubborn low block.
Forest typically adopt a narrow, compact shape out of possession (5-3-2) to force opponents wide and thereby reduce the likelihood of quality chance creation, with their rope-a-dope strategy and pacey forwards also enabling them to take full advantage in transition.
However, Saka can conjure opportunities out of nowhere and has both the physicality and close control to fend off defensive tackles. The Hale End star also benefits from Ben White’s overlapping runs, and the task of curbing their dual influence may overwhelm Ola Aina.
Despite being a right-back by trade, Aina’s two pre-season appearances came on the other side and the departure of Renan Lodi means he may start there again on Saturday.
This prospect will encourage the Arsenal camp because while Aina has the athleticism to trouble Saka, he ranks poorly in the European tackling stakes (38th percentile) and offers far more as an offensive option than he does at the back, so might struggle if required to defend for extended periods.
It could be a long afternoon for the new Forest man.