Balogun: Will He Be Making A Mistake Leaving?

Yesterday news had broke through the Athletic that our own Folarin Balogun was due to sign a pre contract agreement with an unnamed foreign club. News that is a bit gutting to many Gunners fans as it is clear as day this kid is a talent and has the potential to be a top player. The speculation on whether he would sign a new contract is something that has swung above the head of the club like Damocles sword for the best part of a year now.

It’s the nature of the beast when it comes to youth football, these kids initially sign medium length contracts to start with in the hope that they develop to the levels that result in being ready for first team football. It is always a gamble and a game of chess between Player, Club and of course their family/agents on whether they prove their worth resulting in a more lucrative, longer term contract.

It’s that in between grey area period in which a player can weigh up their options and then struggle to resist the temptation to peer over into other fields and see if the grass looks a little greener when it becomes apparent  they are a wanted man. When a player is not deemed quite the level that the club are looking for; to then release them is a swift and ruthless process no young player wants to experience. There’s potentially a villain on either side of the negotiation table.

Clubs invest a lot in their youth development and to see fruition of their time and money is always gratifying so when in the odd times when a player decides pass up on a new contract and move elsewhere it can be quite gutting and frustrating. Questions get asked and learning’s are made to avoid losing big talents for nothing in future.

Fans don’t always understand or should I say accept such decisions but when playing devil’s advocate it is not always greed that can lead a player to want to take a slightly different option to take their career to the next stage.

Factors come into play, do they see a path to the first team or is it blocked by other players ahead of them. Some youngsters just want to play football wherever they can get it and see first team opportunities may present themselves a lot sooner at other clubs or it could simply be bad advice from an agent or family. There isn’t always patience from young players and when being told they are not ready yet it may be hard to take especially if they glance at the first team and see themselves as better than senior players in their position. Some may not accept being told they still have flaws to work on when other clubs tell them the opposite and promise first team football.

Arsenal have had their fair share of players lost on a free through reluctance to sign a contract over the years, some of those players have gone on to carve top level careers whilst others have not quite hit the levels they may have envisioned. It really is a gamble and being the star player or biggest prospect at one club doesn’t always equate to being that same stature of player elsewhere.

You could list such names as Marcus McGuane, Josh Dasilva, Xavier Ameachi and Chris Williock as players over recent years who decided to refuse a contract and move on. Let’s have a little look at how those players have fared.

Josh Dasilva was highly rated and it was a bit of a surprise when he went to Brentford, admittedly he has carved out a decent career with the Championship club so far and recently caught the eye in the Carabao Cup victory over Newcastle. He is very much a part of the England youth set up and a regular feature in the U21 squads.  He is definitely on the radar of bigger clubs and it won’t be long before he is gracing the Premiership with either Brentford or another club.  

Marcus McGuane must have believed he hit the jackpot when he secured a move to Barcelona. You can’t begrudge a player when such a European super power comes a knocking. At the time he was on the fringes of the first team making his debut, gaining some valuable minutes in the Europa League for the Gunners. However he made the move to Spain after letting his contract run down, I believe making a first team appearance in a Super Cup game but primarily played for the Barcelona B team. After a while he went on loan to Holland for a season and was then signed by Nottingham Forest playing for their reserve team initially before being sent out on loan this season to Oxford United.  He could well turn out to be a fine player but you can’t help but feel he has taken a lot of sideways moves in his career so far and wonder was it worth leaving Arsenal when he did.

Xavier Ameachi you have to say has been a bit unlucky in his Arsenal career. He looked a top talent in all the times I had seen him and looked a dead cert for the first team. He was up there with Reiss Nelson at the time in my opinion and making that left side of attack his own. Then misfortune struck, he suffered a bad injury that put him out of the team and the limelight for a while. In that time he was on the treatment table the first team then had a requirement for an attacking left sided player and low and behold a kid from the group of scholars younger that Ameachi’s was promoted to the reserves to fill in. Based on impressive performances for the reserves that certain Buyako Saka was afforded minutes in the first team and hasn’t looked back since. Ameachi on the other hand returned to fitness but wasn’t in a position to usurp the new star kid on the block. Seeing his pathway blocked he decided to take on a new adventure abroad in Germany and is currently plying his trade for Hamburger SV. He is still very young and I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before we see him back on these shores hopefully at highest level.

Chris Willock’s name is better known given to the fact his brother Joe is very much a current first team player at Arsenal. Chris was probably deemed as the most talented of the three Willock brothers. He was certainly highly rated within the club and was given first team minutes in the League cup by Arsene Wenger. Sadly he didn’t see his future at the club and upon the expiration of his contract decided to take on an adventure in Portugal by signing for Benfica. Similar to McGuane this didn’t result in first team football for Benfica but a playing career for their B team. This resulted after a couple seasons with some loan spells back in the UK firstly with West Brom and then with Huddersfield Town. He eventually left Benfica and was signed permanently by QPR this season where he’s plying his trade in the Championship.

There’s no guarantee that any of these players if they stayed on with the Arsenal would be first team regulars and still at the club today however we have always had a history of giving opportunities to youngsters. Many of whom carved out good careers for themselves based on the experience provided in the Arsenal team. If Balogun does indeed pass up on signing a contract and moves on he isn’t the first and he won’t be the last to make that choice. There’s no guarantee he will fulfil all potential if he stays same way he cannot be guaranteed he will fulfil it elsewhere. One thing we can assure him as fans is there is a massive belief in his abilities and a massive push mainly on social media for Mikel Arteta to afford him more minutes in the first team.  I for one hope he does stay but if he does decide to move on then good luck to him. We move forward as a club regardless if it’s a first team player or a youth prospect that chooses to leave.

Enjoy you day people.

This post has also featured on Gunners Town site which I also write for.

It Isn’t All Bad At Arsenal (Rose Tinted Glasses View).

We are currently in the midst of the eye of storm in which the results have not been great in the Premier League. Of course as you’d expect the response hasn’t been favourable towards Mikel Arteta and his team. In hindsight there is no such thing as an acceptable defeat and therefore things will always be dissected. The team selection, the formation, the game plan, the execution by the players and any individual mistakes endured. If we were to evaluate fans feeling judging by social media response immediately after the game against Wolves then yes the world is about to end. However it’s time to put some things into perspective and not shift into defcon 1 just yet.

Yes, the result against Wolves wasn’t favourable but as it stands the club isn’t adrift from the majority of the teams above them, a win against Wolves would have had the team merely three points behind Chelsea, a team in 3rd place who aren’t a team deemed to be in crisis. It’s a bit busy in the middle of the table and a couple of wins strung together would have us right in the mix. You just need to look how in the doldrums Manchester United looked after we beat them only a few weeks ago and how they are headed up the table now after a little run of results.

Things can change after a few wins are strung together

We must not forget our squad has been affected by a combination of Covid-19 infections, suspensions and injuries. Kolasinac may not be the first name fans want on the team sheet but he’s an option all the same. A manager with options is a manager with wealth. Pepe’s Europa League form gives us an indication of what he can bring to the team once he overcomes the many factors holding him back. I don’t really need to elaborate more on Thomas Partey, he is the quality we need and miss in the middle of the park. He was a big loss against Wolves; Hopefully the rumours of a longer term injury are not true.

We must take into account this is Mikel Arteta’s first season in charge, this is a gradual rebuild job and not an overnight fix. Okay, so the football hasn’t looked great in every game but the Spaniard has a vision and not every player at his disposal may fit into the mould to get the best out of his system. Arteta came from Manchester City with an embarrassing amount of riches; we don’t have that at Arsenal. We cannot replace a whole team in one window and so therefore the wish lists of ditching half the squad by many fans in one go just isn’t feasible. Piece by piece, window after window is the way it will be done until Mikel can get his team under his vision in place. We really need to apply some patience with regards to this. Arsenal not having an unlimited amount of funds is not a secret but a fact we have known for years. Gate receipts and the impact of Covid-19 has complicated things a bit more. Players will come in but as I alluded to it’s a gradual build of the squad in Mikel’s vision.

This isn’t an overnight fix

Let’s not forget for most fans when Mikel was appointed we all agreed to give the manager time, we all agreed it’s not a quick fix and that it will be a bumpy ride for the next few years. Cue 10 games into the season and fans want to riot because we aren’t pushing for the title this season at this stage already. We have to have some patience and calling for the manager’s head at this stage is not the way forward.

I understand the situation Arsenal is in is not helped by the fact Spurs are sitting pretty at the top of the table. If anything it is merely the fuel feeding a greater sense of rage amongst fans. We have to look at the bigger picture, we may not be at the top of the table as we are at the start of a journey. Spurs have a team that have been improving over the years, they are doing better in the league than us but we all know how the story ends with them…Spursy.

One thing we should put into perspective is this season or should I say 2020 as a whole has upset the balance when it comes to football logic. Teams are suffering freak results left right and centre; you could honestly pinpoint a thrashing experienced by every team that makes the premier league in 2020. Until this pandemic is well and truly on the backburner should we really be judging how the football is going? Leicester just lost to Fulham at home, a team that have been the guaranteed three points secured go to team in the league. Away wins (I think currently at 44%) are more prevalent than home wins in the Premier League this season. The lack of fans have stripped a lot of the advantage that comes with being a home team and psychologically the players are not intimidated or affected by playing on another teams patch. The home defeats haven’t been great but you’d find Arsenal isn’t alone in experiencing such a record.

2020: A year of unpredictable results

Time is a healer; things will change for the better for Arsenal Football Club. Many fans are not in the most optimistic of mental states in preparation for the North London Derby. Why can’t we go to White Hart Lane and get a result? Yes fans may return for the game but the hostile atmosphere might be the very thing to spur on (excuse the pun) and inspire the Arsenal players to turn up. Arsenal always masters the art of pulling out a win against all odds.  On paper many won’t see past a Spurs win, well paper doesn’t win matches the players on the pitch do. Watch this space. Keep the faith.

Enjoy you day people.

This post has also featured on Gunners Town site which I also write for.

How Do The Gunners Move Forward? Formation Or Personnel?

We’ve had at least 24-48hrs to calm down from the match against Leicester. An amount of time to dissipate the red mist  and see things a little bit more clearly (or at very least not want to smash your tv).

I’m no angel; I wasn’t best pleased with the result and was left asking so many questions and not finding many solutions to what I had raised.

Understandably no defeat is taken nicely, even if you’ve won a group in qualifying and throw the kids in for the dead rubber last game you still want a win at the very least avoid defeat.

Its human nature really, at the start of Mikel Arteta’s tenure with the club many made the statement that this is a long term project and Mikel will needs time. We can’t expect to be challenging for the title within 6 months. There will be plenty bumps along the way, lots of ups and downs, mistakes will be made especially from a young inexperienced manager but the key thing is to give him time and our full backing.

When Arsene left we entered unfamiliar territory for many Arsenal fans that knew nothing but Arsene. There was evidence over at Manchester United that to replace someone after such a prolonged amount of time would not be a smooth transition. Unai Emery was just the wrong choice for manager and despite some early warning signs things were not going well he cannot turn around and say he wasn’t given a chance to get things right.

Anyway no point me bleating on about the recent managerial history of the club, we are all well aware. I suppose the point of me bringing it up was to highlight it’s far too early to sound the alarm bells.

To take some positives from the football this weekend is not many teams made much advancement at the top, plenty of dropped points by our rivals and therefore Arteta has some food for thought moving forward. Arsenal are still there or thereabouts and the team has plenty scope for improvement.

The manager will have learned a lot from Sunday’s game. Yes we can rue the injustices of the ruled out goal from Lacazette but we must not also dismiss the blatant 2nd yellow card Hector Bellerin should have received. One incorrectly ruled moment turned out key but a game in which we were in control we should have done a lot more when we were on top.

No point singling out one striker’s performance but ask questions of why when on top are we as a team are not putting teams to the sword?

The key factor that comes to mind is the lack of a creative fulcrum to dovetail the newly instilled tenacity and focus. The big question to ask yourself is does that lay with the tactics or lack of personnel. You could argue both really, let’s have a looks at both sides:

The Formation

The team set up with a 433 formation however maybe due to the easing in of four at the back over utilising three centre backs there is more emphasis on the midfield 3 acting as a shield than supporting attacks. I would certainly bracket Partey and Xhaka as more defensive minded whilst Ceballos is great at dictating play advancing from deep and is equally comfortable mucking it in the middle of the park putting his foot in.

It would be interesting to see Ceballos advancing further forward to see if he could make things happen in a freer role. Sunday’s tactics seemed to focus more on utilising the timed runs of the fullbacks. A tactic that seemed to work in the sense that the ball was finding those players in advanced positions Bellerin especially however the most was not made of those situations.

With the spaces vacated by the full backs the midfield three were as it seems instructed to fill the gaps left by them. Again it added to the stability and you could argue from a defensive sense the team is looking more solid for setting up that way. It’s the attack which seems to be suffering and you have to wonder if by having a more disciplined set up, the attack being left to make the magic happen by themselves was always bound to eventually struggle when teams wised up to that being go to tactic.

This is where you have to look at the other question regarding:

The Personnel

The game vs. Leicester was the perfect example of a team set out to nullify the opposition. Especially with Vardy on the bench the team came with a game plan to soak up and nullify Arsenal and then hopefully nick something with the introduction of Vardy later in the game. Leicester aren’t the first and won’t be the last to play with the majority of their men behind the ball and soak up the pressure. When you take into account how much Arsenal rely on counter attack and pace we were left in a catch 22 situation where other than individual moments of brilliance we would struggle getting in behind a deep defensive line.

It’s situations like that where you are left screaming out for a creative player that can thread a pass through the eye of a needle and get the attackers in on goal. You could argue we have a player that fits that description on our paid staff but let’s not go there with the Ö word. In terms of whom we have available who can play, who could maybe play in the midfield three at the tip as a creative outlet?

Of course Arteta may not have plans to use his midfield three in such a way but let’s just hypothesize that he may. Do we have the creative player that could make that mark from the personnel we have? Well the short answer is yes but the longer deeper answer is which player exactly?

Well I would say take your pick from the Following: Saka, Ceballos, Willian and Emile Smith Rowe.

Four players I feel have the adaptability, agilty and potential for a pass in their locker.

Saka we’ve seen play in a number of positions for the club now but I do recall him playing in a midfield three as the advanced creative hub, It may have been against Sheffield United last season (don’t quote me on that) but at the time it gave us the fans an insight into his versatility and proved he could play there.

Willian is a bit of an unknown but it is clear he has the technical ability and strength to play further forward in a midfield three. I avoid watching Chelsea as much as I can so I can’t recall times he played there for the club that I would have noticed. Nevertheless he can be an option in the middle, his versatility will be key for us this season.

Ceballos as I mentioned earlier is definitely a creative player with a bit of bite, it’s that extra tenacity that probably works against him as he is more trusted to protect as well as provide ball retention. He has always looked impressive coming from deep and always demands the ball, it’s worth a shot trying him further advanced, there’s nothing to lose.

Emile Smith Rowe would seem like the perfect player to be given a shot in that role however his injury problems are becoming a concern. There’s nothing the Arsenal fans would like more than to see this kid fulfil his potential but the persistent little injuries tend to hinder his progress. I’d like to think the longer delay to his return is a planned schedule to ensure his return won’t result in breaking down two to three games in.

I may have missed off other potential options, feel free to let me know in the comments. I’ve deliberately left out the quality starlets in our youth set up, players such as Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson et al, as their time will come but in the current team I can’t see Arteta making such a leap of faith for now.

There’s a chance to give Arteta something to think about before January transfer window otherwise there may be a renewed more aggressive move for Houssem Aouar. Time will tell, let see how this plays out.

Enjoy you day people.

This post has also featured on Gunners Town site which I also write for.

Eddie Nketiah: It’s Only Just The Beginning.

On Wednesday Eddie Nketiah came off the bench for England U21 to net a goal in a 3-3 draw with Andorra. The result itself was a bit of a shock given Andorra are rock bottom of the Euro 2021 qualifying group table though on closer look it seems a few more important players were rested for this fixture with Eddie being one of them. After coming on he bagged what looked to be the winner only for England to concede again and finish with scores level.

The significant take away from Eddie’s scoring feat was the fact that he netted his 13th goal for England u21’s which put him joint level as the record scorer for England at that level. A goal scoring record that is shared with Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers. A feat that has to be applauded but at the same time reality checked as it is at an u21 standard. However the two players he shares the record with couldn’t provide more evidence of absolute polar opposites in terms of senior England careers that Eddie could have.

Alan Shearer went on to be one of the greatest most prolific goal scorers in England History whilst Francis Jeffers managed to make only one senior appearance for England (all be it scoring and boasting a 100% record).

You have to say the ball is in Eddie’s court in terms of how he shapes his future. He has certainly put in the hard work up to this stage to make the most of his opportunities.

He has the belief of his manager which has earned him starts in the premiership for Arsenal; he’s scoring freely for England U21 and likely to be in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts. It’s the kind of path any aspiring young striker would love to be following and yet when you ask fans for their view on Eddie you get mixed responses. 

There’s a large contingent of people who do not believe Eddie to be good enough for Arsenal and would sooner have him replaced with a more favourable experienced striker. In this day and age where fans expect the finished article instantly (particularly at larger clubs) there’s certainly less patience to see through the development of young players even more so strikers if the output isn’t that of the finished article.

Eddie Nketiah is still learning his craft and the capacity for his development and improvement is massive. Can he achieve it whilst at Arsenal?  As echoed earlier the ball is in his court and he will have to achieve this while constantly having questions thrown at him about his abilities.

Now on one hand I can understand where some of the fans are coming from. If you were to describe the type of player Eddie Nketiah is in a few short words then Fox in the box is a common and rather accurate descriptor used for the young striker. He is a striker that often finds himself on the end of balls played into the box; using his pace to nip in ahead of the defender and finish with aplomb.

When asked to expand on his other strengths that is where many would fall short on providing an answer to respond with. When describing the template for a modern day striker the general consensus is an all-rounder. A player with pace and power, who can finish, that has the ability to drop deep and bring others into play, a tireless runner  who can trouble defenders and a player who can assist his teammates. Seems a lot really for the ultimate striker but nowadays when you find a striker that exhibits one or two of those attributes the criticism will always be the highlighting of the attributes they don’t have from that list. It’s fair to say Eddie doesn’t tick all those boxes yet and until he does he won’t escape the criticism. When you think of his loan to Leeds united, depending on what side of the fence you sit his loan was a success or failure.  He rarely started games but his impact from the bench was appreciated from Leeds with some important goals. Patrick Bamford was the preferred starter and yet he was hardly getting on score sheet. Why was he being played ahead of the Arsenal starlet who was getting more goals per minute in comparison?

The clear answer was what Bamford brought to the overall play of the Leeds team. If you watched Leeds play he was key to the success of their system. His link up play brought others into attack and if you avoid the goals to games stats and observed the gameplay it was easier to appreciate what Bamford contributed. Saying that Bamford’s finishing leaves a lot to be desired and is what separates him from being a good striker and an elite one. Eddie was a far better finisher but the other aspects to his game were still to be worked on, this resulted in his super sub role for the club.

Sending Eddie out on loan was a chance for him to get the minutes and improve and enhance the aspects of his game he needed to work on. With him not getting that at Leeds it made up the mind of Mikel Arteta to cut his loan short return to Arsenal and give him more game time at a higher standard.

Eddie is only 21 and still developing under Arteta, he is improving and the important thing is not to dismiss what he can become because of what he shows now. Players need time and you only need to look at Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring for England against Wales on his England debut to see how a young player can come to fruition. Everton fans would be telling lies if they didn’t admit that at times they questioned the abilities of the youngster and whether he was good enough to be the main Everton striker. A player who served his apprenticeship with loans to lower league clubs and representing the England youth teams didn’t set the world alight with his scoring record in his first couple seasons with the Toffees.

 The early promise plateaued a bit but under Carlo Ancelotti he has taken his game to the next level and is now first name on the team sheet and seen as one of the top strikers in the premiership. Patience and belief in his ability is what has gotten him to where he is now, he also is still developing and learning and getting better. Anyone who dismisses Nketiah just needs to take a look over at Goodison Park.

It reached a point where many fans were calling for Nketiah to be ditched in order to make space for young striker Folarin Balogun. A top talent in our youth set up no doubt but to see comments claiming Balogun to be a better player without having kicked a single ball in 1st team senior football is quite ludicrous. Balogun could well go on to be an even better player than Eddie but there’s a level of apprenticeship that needs to be completed before strolling straight into the Arsenal 1st team. Not everyone makes the transition into first team football from a prolific youth career. We mustn’t forget Nketiah was also prolific in youth, made scoring appearances early into his 1st team career, completed a loan out gained more experience and has returned and contributed.

Nketiah is not the finished article but Nketiah is not finished either. His story is only in the first few pages. It’s just a case of whether the end of his story is more likened to Alan Shearers than Francis Jeffers?

Enjoy you day people.

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Reiss Nelson?

How do you solve a problem like Reiss Nelson? The young Englishman was one of the most exciting talents coming through the academy in years.  While the first team was going through a bit of transition the fans were screaming out for one of their own to lift spirits and hopes. A massive buzz was emanating from the youth ranks, a few YouTube clips surfaced of a younger Nelson skipping past defenders with such ease you couldn’t help but ask who is this kid?

Information and access to youth football isn’t as restricted as maybe it was many years ago so if you wanted to see the stats and view some games of this player in person it was obtainable after a few clicks on your mouse. Reiss Nelson was the real deal and the buzz led to calls from the fans for Arsene Wenger to give us a glimpse of him in the first team.

Alas his moment came back around 2017 when he was afforded some minutes in pre-season for the club. As per the Wenger way he was he was eased into first team proceedings and not thrown into his favoured position to start with. There were plenty senior players ahead of him who also required the first team minutes and so he was berthed as a wing back for those pre-season games. Wing back offered a little less pressure in that role and a chance to gain valuable minutes and experience with the first team.

You could call that season as his break out into the first team. Although he didn’t make many appearances he managed to get starts in the customary League Cup and Europa League competitions that season as well as a Premiership debut. We saw flashes of the talent but the exposure was limited due to the talent ahead of him such as Alexis Sanchez, Iwobi, Ozil and a soon to join Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The appearances he did make were nothing ground breaking, just ok. And that’s where the problem laid; Reiss looked good but never quite had a game where you were left thinking “wow”.

Again it would be harsh to be critical on him in his first season in the first team but it was felt that the kid we saw in the clips terrorising defenders that got the fans excited was locked away somewhere inside. The fans wanted that player unleashed; Things weren’t great on the first team front with the whole Sanchez leaving saga and the Wenger Out thing at the time. It was clear by the end of that season that Reiss had outgrown the youth/reserve level but wasn’t yet at a stage to trouble the players ahead of him in his position in the first team.

He needed minutes to develop and he needed men’s football to take him to the next level. That duly came with a loan move to Hoffenheim. Arsene Wenger by this time had moved on and Unai Emery sanctioned the loan move after ensuring prior he signed a new long term deal at the club. The move to Germany proved to be a success as he was given the exposure to first team football at a far higher standard than u23 football. He scored some goals, got minutes and returned back to the club with a new level of confidence you would expect. Now was the time to kick on and make the right wing berth his own in the first team.

Armed with a new contract Reiss headed to Germany

The appearances that season did improve vastly for Nelson and he certainly could identify as a member of the first team then. He scored his first goals for the club and featured across all the competitions but and there is a big but here. His appearances were again ok but nothing ground breaking. As a fan I so badly wanted him to have defenders for breakfast like I remembered in the clips from his younger days but it just never materialised on a regular level. You could argue that it doesn’t help when the club was in turmoil from the turgid football played under Emery and the once again negative vibes emanating from the stands. It could have been the tactics, it could have been the manager uncertainty or the fans unrest but whatever the factor we the fans never really saw a breakout performance from Nelson where we could look back and say “wow, what a talent this kid will go far.”

For example think back to days when we had Quincy Owusu-Agbeiyie making appearances in the League Cup games and he would have fans on their feet applauding some performances so impressive you would be forgiven for thinking you was witnessing the birth of a new superstar.

Quincy made things look easy against minnows

Admittedly that was a false dawn and once Quincy played for the first team he seemed far out of depth against Premier League standard players compared to the cannon fodder from League 1 and League 2 he would terrorise. It is that transition to taking on the highest level of opponent that sets apart promise from true talent.

Reiss Nelson showed promise in the earlier part of his Arsenal career and to me now he is showing glimpses of his talent, this to me sets him apart from Quincy. Although the individual impact in games have been short of man of the match awards I have seen enough glimpses under Mikel Arteta that shows he does have in the locker what he threatened to show in his youth. Sometimes it just takes the right manager to unlock the potential and he has every chance achieving that under Arteta. Its rare to get the next superstar ready and packaged off the youth team shelf. An apprenticeship often has to be served as the kinks are ironed out and adaption achieved. It’s not quite there yet for Reiss but he has time on his side and with the belief of the right manager will show that more consistently as he matures. On Wednesday night against Leicester I saw Nelson look far more comfortable and composed on the ball. He was intelligent with his distribution, had a couple speculative chances that fizzed just wide and for balance missed a very good chance in front of goal he really should have hit the target with at minimum.

Yes, the Leicester team was weaker given the level of the competition but still littered with a majority of premiership level players. He looked like one of the players likely to make things happen for the team however one of the biggest problems to happen to the Reiss Nelson story is the emergence of Bukayo Saka. The younger youngster looked so classy in that Leicester win leaving Arsenal fans purring at his talent.

Nelson and Saka chasing that first team glory

One of the reasons Nelson probably gets a hard time from critics is the emergence of Saka which in comparison makes Nelsons progress look less impressive. It’s just one of those things; Saka came into the team at a time of need, took his chance and hasn’t looked back. The journey of his transition into a first team player was one that many expected for Nelson but has been achieved at a far quicker rate and now you have to admit he is well ahead of Nelson now in terms of first team status. Again this is not to say Reiss is past it, far from it and the talent is there to be unlocked it just doesn’t help when a younger kid who wasn’t on the radar when you came on the scene makes a bigger impact. People will always use it to compare often unfairly but it’s hard not to compare the development of two young players coming through at the same time.

It has been reported that Nelson has now been made available for loan by Arteta. Something I don’t think indicates lack of belief from the manager but identification that to keep on developing he needs a pathway to first team football that isn’t heavily congested as it is by the likes of Pepe, Willian and co. The Hoffenheim loan helped push Nelson’s development on and another loan which I hope would be to a Premiership club will help push him on even further. He is still looking the part for England U21 and is a talent many clubs would love to have on board. I just hope that A) he goes on loan to a high level club playing the right football and B) does not find the loan such a success that he seeks to continue his career away from Arsenal.

That is always the danger with loans but at the same time given the trajectory Arsenal are headed under Mikel Arteta it is a project any young player would want to be a part of. A loan isn’t a rejection and as long as Nelson knuckles down and works hard he will be a regular feature in the Arsenal first team for years to come and become the player we all saw and believed he will become.

Enjoy you day people.

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