Mikel Arteta hinted the decision to drop for Saturday’s opener against was purely for tactical reasons.
The Brazil international was a mainstay of his side’s defence last season and put in an assured performance alongside the returning William Saliba in last weekend’s Community Shield win over .
Arteta suggested at his pre-match press conference that he would need to come up with a different plan, however, against a Forest side who ended Arsenal’s title hopes with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win at the City Ground back in May.
The Arsenal manager, indeed, raised eyebrows with his team selection, relegating Gabriel to the bench and handing a start to striker Eddie Nketiah.
Explaining the change, Arteta said: ‘It is every game demands different things and Eddie [Nketiah] didn’t play last game and has done really well in pre-season and he deserves to play.
‘He has been really good and always been a threat. Every game needs different qualities. This is how we start the game and we will probably finish in a very different way.’
Pressed as to whether the Gunners would start with a back three, he said: ‘No.’
Forest, meanwhile, gave a debut to former Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner who only completed his move earlier this week.
Manager Steve Cooper said: ‘Ironic that it’s here. We’re pleased he is with us, he has settled in really quickly.
‘The best way to settle in is get on the team bus and get involved in a match day.’
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