The title race was effectively ended by the Gunners’ defeat to Brighton a week ago, and City would have had the chance to complete the job themselves on Sunday when they host Chelsea even if Mikel Arteta’s side had have secured victory at the City Ground.
Instead it was a tame defeat for Arsenal, another poor performance in what has been a stumbling run-in for a side that had an eight-point advantage at the top of the table at the start of April. Taiwo Awoniyi gave Forest a first-half lead in somewhat messy fashion and that proved enough for a result that also secured their Premier League safety with a match to spare.
Arsenal have won just two of their last eight matches, a run that has coincided with City putting together an 11-match streak of victories in the League, and it has allowed the champions to secure the first leg of what they hope will be a treble-winning campaign, with FA Cup and Champions League finals to come next month.
The Gunners set up at the City Ground with Thomas Partey at right-back and Jakub Kiwior on the opposite flank, a system that brought no real success and saw them badly struggle in their attempts to break down the mass of red shirts.
Forest took their chance when it came, with Martin Odegaard’s poor pass intercepted by Morgan Gibbs-White and he drove forward before sliding a pass through to Awoniyi. It looked to be too heavy for the striker, but Gabriel knocked it off him as he slid in and the ball bobbled past Aaron Ramsdale for Awoniyi’s fifth goal in three matches.
The pattern of the match was well-established, Arsenal having more than 80% possession but doing very little with it. Gabriel Jesus had the occasional bright turn on the edge of the box, but Forest never looked like giving up their lead ahead of half-time.
Things did not improve after the break for the Gunners, who continued to pass the ball around with no real sign of causing Forest any problems. Gibbs-White had the chance to put the match to bed after a White error, only to fire his effort into the side-netting.
Seven minutes were added on, the board met with groans from the home fans, though they had little to worry about. Arsenal had offered next to nothing in the previous 90 minutes and stoppage-time did not bring a sudden shift, Forest holding on for a result that sparked huge celebrations in Nottingham and in Manchester.