Reiss Nelson was one of Arsenal’s star men in the Gunners’ 3-0 win against Dundalk in the Europa League last night, with the 20-year-old clearly determined to show manager Mikel Arteta his quality.
The young winger has only made one start for Arsenal this season, which came in a 2-0 win away to Leicester City in the Carabao Cup, however with Arteta’s side looking short of creativity and imagination going forward, Nelson could be drafted in to help with this issue.
The Englishman showed electric pace last night, accompanied with direct dribbling and a mentality of always wanting to beat his man. Nelson was also very good in tight spaces, which is a quality many of Arsenal’s senior players struggle with, and his link up play around the penalty area was of a very high standard.
Nelson’s adjustment from youth football to the senior game hasn’t been straight forward, with injuries and a big difference in physicality making that step up a little bit harder for the winger.
During his days in the Arsenal youth side, he flourished, winning the Premier League 2 alongside current team mates Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe and Joe Willock, whilst also being named the Premier League 2 player of the year, aged just 17.
In that successful 2017/18 season, Reiss Nelson managed a superb nine goals and three assists in 11 U23 league games, whilst also making his Premier League debut against Southampton.
However, Nelson’s record at senior level hasn’t been nearly as impressive as it was with the youth teams, with the winger scoring three and assisting three in 42 appearances, although it should be noted that many of these were from the bench.
Even though this may not be too impressive, an excellent example to demonstrate why Arsenal should keep faith in Nelson is the development of Serge Gnabry, who only managed one goal and two assists in 18 senior games for the Gunners.
While there is a big difference in game time between the two wingers, their stats are still fairly equal when this is taken into account, with Nelson getting a goal contribution every 324 minutes on average, while Gnabry recorded one every 290 minutes.
Furthermore, Nelson was more prolific at youth level than Gnabry, with the Englishman grabbing 18 goals and 11 assists in 41 U23 games, compared to Gnabry recording 12 goals and eight assists in 38 matches.
Both wingers were clearly very talented when they first broke into the first team, however some players will take longer than others to adjust, for example Bukayo Saka found his feet straight away.
Nelson was arguably better at youth level than any of the youngsters Arsenal sold, such as Gnabry, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Donyell Malen and Ismael Bennacer, who are all doing well for their respective teams, so hopefully the club have learnt from their previous mistakes and give Nelson the time he needs to blossom.