There have been times when I (and I am sure others have, too) have questioned Reiss Nelson. Not his talent or application – more whether he could be consistent or raise his game to a higher level when needed, and last night at Portsmouth I think he showed exactly what a prospect we have on our hands.
After spending the 2018-19 season on loan at Hoffenheim, many expected Reiss Nelson to return to Arsenal and blossom alongside a front line that included Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, but unfortunately for the 20-year old it has been anything but. Poor team displays, unrest, formation changes meant Reiss rarely got a chance to show his talent on a consistent basis; that, and the fact that Unai Emery’s style did not suit him. He started and played 82 minutes of Mikel Arteta’s first game at Bournemouth on Boxing Day but since playing away at Crystal Palace he has been out injured, only making the bench versus Everton last week.
For me, last night Nelson was our man of the match. Arteta used the phrase “a special player” when describing the England Under-21 international after his performance last night before going on to say:
We have pace in a few players up front, and Reiss is a special player and can eliminate players one on one. He’s been out for a while but he’s back now and he showed what he’s capable of doing.
And I think that’s a key point. The second was something I have not seen Reiss really do, which was: take on a player, beat him comfortably, and execute a cross for Nketiah to prod home.
It was also interesting to see Nelson deployed on the right – which definitely helped him run and hit early crosses, often when he plays left I feel he tries to take on players and can run into a crowd of players and into dead ends, and I think Arteta will definitely improve him because he is our biggest talent. Another thing that I noticed at full time from the away end was that David Luiz spent around 2 minutes talking to Reiss, giving advice.
Nelson, who was raised in South London on the Aylesbury Estate, stated in a recent interview that there were comparisons between him and Sancho as to who was better, and although now Sancho is considered one of the world’s top prospects, Nelson can still reach the level of his lifelong best mate. I believe he will. He has incredible talent and – if he’s consistent – could be the future of this club. And in my opinion, there is no one better to have coach him than Mikel Arteta.