They could hardly complain. Arsenal were not exactly scintillating but they were compact, well-briefed and might have won by a wider margin. Forest were so lacking in ideas that David Seaman scarcely dirtied his goal-keeping gloves.
Forest remain essentially an attractive passing side but their inability to score goals has become a chronic malaise. Not since the beginning of November have they managed to tot up more than two in the same match and more often than not they have had to be content with one. "It has reached the point when our defence know they have to keep a clean sheet if we are to have any chance of winning," their manager, Frank Clark, lamented.
The absence of Ian Woan and the improving Andrea Silenzi - both injured - hardly helped, although the return of Steve Stone added bite on the right. Bryan Roy, whose own form has tended to rise and fall with the team's, looked out of touch. It was a timely moment for Kevin Campbell, in his best form since leaving Highbury last summer, to remind Arsenal of his talents, if only he had been given the semblance of a chance.
Arsenal, respectful of Forest's home form, set out primarily to contain but overdid it at first. It took them half an hour to muster a worthwhile attempt on goal. But then Martin Keown, up for Glenn Helder's corners was close to heading his side in front twice within two minutes.
It needed all Bruce Rioch's encouragement to instill greater ambitions in his side for the second half, which began with Ian Wright going close after Helder and Paul Merson had worked an opening on the left. The goal soon followed, Bergkamp seizing possession from a defender and exchanging passes with Wright, whom Forest tried to catch offside. Wright's return was neatly tucked away.
Leaden-footed, Forest almost conceded a second when Wright was allowed free access to a Bergkamp cross with 13 minutes of the match remaining. The forward headed against the bar and even managed a second bite before Mark Crossley pushed the ball to safety. To cap Forest's afternoon, the substitute Jason Lee was went off close to the end, having been booked twice in as many minutes.
"I'm less concerned with losing the home record than with the fact that we played with so little wit and quality," Clark said. A month away from a stern European test against Bayern Munich, he has good reason to be worried.Reuse content