Nottingham Forest coach Nuno Espirito Santo has admitted that it wasn’t part of his initial plan to feature Taiwo Awoniyi against Arsenal after the Nigerian striker scored a consolation goal in the 2-1 defeat on Tuesday night.
Awoniyi had been out for six weeks with a groin injury, but came off the bench to score in the dying minutes of the game at the City Ground, Footballrover reports.
It was a frustrating night for Forest, who deserved more from the game after putting in so much effort into it. Unfortunately for Forest, they were undone by two clinical finishes from the Mikel Arteta’s Boys.
The first goal came in the 62nd minute when Gabriel Jesus pounced on a loose ball in the box to score.
The second goal came just nine minutes later, when Bukayo Saka tapped home after a poor clearance from Gonzalo Montiel.
Awoniyi’s goal gave Forest hope in the final minutes, but it was not enough to secure them a point.
Taiwo Awoniyi finds the back of the net on his return from injury ????pic.twitter.com/GEEnAqRB7Y
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) January 31, 2024
Speaking during his press conference, Forest coach admitted that having the player back was a positive, even though playing him for so many minutes after only a few training sessions wasn’t the plan.
He explained that Chris Wood’s situation forced the change in plan, but ultimately it paid off as the player got minutes, scored, and worked hard.
“It was not our plan to play him for so many minutes. But unfortunately, due to the situation with Chris (Wood), we decided to put him in,” Nuno Santo said.
However, the defeat leaves Forest in 14th place in the Premier League table, seven points above the relegation zone.
The return of the Super Eagles’ star is a boost for Forest, and they will be hoping that he can help them climb the table in the coming weeks.
Nottingham Forest’s next game:
Forest will play Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday, February 4th.