Smith Rowe was in the starting XI at the City Ground, alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard in midfield, his first league start since a win over Sheffield United in October.
It was a frustrating first half for the Gunners, with the game goalless at the break, but goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka in the second period secured the win.
Taiwo Awoniyi made things nervy with a late goal, but the match finished 2-1 to the visitors, who go within two points of league-leaders Liverpool.
Smith Rowe played 71 minutes on his rare appearance in the starting XI, before being replaced by Kai Havertz, and Arteta was pleased with what he saw from the 23-year-old.
‘I thought he was really good,’ Arteta said of Smith Rowe. ‘I think he looked exactly the same that he looks in training and every time that we have put him in this year he fully deserved the chance.
‘He’s put his head down, he’s worked so hard, his attitude is really good and he’s a tremendous player, you see the way he moves he’s just a joy to watch.’
Arteta was largely pleased with his team’s performance but the late goal was nagging him after the win.
‘I think the team was excellent today and was really dominant. We did not concede nothing till the 90th minute and after we had to suffer a bit,’ he told BBC Five Live.
‘Obviously Nottingham Forest took some chances and took some risks as they brought in some really strong attacking players.
‘We did not defend the goal well and we are disappointed with that as we wanted another clean sheet.’
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