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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An Ugly Win Against The Hammers But The Three Points Vital For Arsenal

Well that wasn’t much fun at all. These kinds of games are the hardest to write about because the negatives cloud over the positives I could elaborate on. However, a win is a win and that victory yesterday gives Arsenal 6 points from 2 games and keeps them in the mix just before some of the tougher fixtures coming up in the next few weeks.

The performance was disjointed and West Ham threatened at times to take all three points but fortunately we managed to dig in and find a winner when all hope seemed lost. Manchester United were beaten convincingly by Crystal Palace in the premiership game prior the Emirates fixture and it served as a warning that anyone can beat anyone on their day.

West Ham will feel hard done by to leave the Emirates with nothing as they refused to roll over and let Arsenal have their cake and eat it. Even after Arsenal had taken the lead through Lacazette the warning signs were there as a number of chances fell to the Hammers.  You wouldn’t be wrong to agree the equaliser was coming and well deserved before half time.

First goal but a game with fewer smiles

Never nice to concede before half time but it still allowed Mikel Arteta to assess and review tactics for a changed 2nd half. It didn’t seem like much had changed in 2nd half other than a greater amount of possession  for the Gunners but the chances were still falling to both sides and almost like a very dull game of chess there was a chance for either team to walk away with victory in the blink of an eye.

Our winning moment did eventually come and if there was a story to take from this game it was noting the two individuals who combined to provide the winner. Dani Ceballos laid on the assist for Eddie Nketiah to slot home the winner; these two individuals were nearly the cause of a much more significant headline with their pre-game altercation before the Fulham game last week. This time it was a more positive exchange between the two and one that benefitted the club in the best possible way.

Besties…

The Sky Sports team couldn’t resist bringing up the Fulham incident in the post-game interview with Eddie who squashed any hint of anything lingering last week as he highlighted all is well with his Spanish team mate.

One thing of note from the game was the potential penalty that could have been conceded by Gabriel. It would have been a harsh penalty if given, it wasn’t given, VAR reviewed and also didn’t give it so we move on. The Sky Sports team were desperate to forcefully push it as some sort of controversy and quite desperately tried to draw parallels with the penalty conceded by Lindelof against Palace an hour earlier. The two were nothing alike and it shouldn’t really be anything deemed significant enough for West Ham to cry foul.

Gabriel putting his foot in all game

Gabriel carried on where he left from the Fulham game looking assured and composed whilst indulging in the physical battles with gusto. He had to do it all with a new partner in defence due to the pre match warm up injury to Kieran Tierney. The Scotsman has become a favourite with the fans for his professionalism and quality in defence so the news of an injury is one of worry and the hope is the injury was more precaution than anything too serious. The early indications are it being a hip injury, something he has previous with, how long to recover from I guess we will have to wait until official confirmation from the club after diagnosis.

We especially need the quality of Tierney over the next few weeks as the tough games come thick and fast. We face Leicester in league and cup, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United up until the end of October. It will require as many fit bodies available and ready to battle to come through that run of games and not have the feeling of our season being derailed.

Let’s see how it all plays out, fingers crossed starting Wednesday at the King Power Stadium.

Enjoy you day people.

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OK Arsenal – NOW You Can Burst Bubbles.

As the headline states, it is fine to burst some bubbles of the Claret and Blue variety. If it’s all not making much sense this is pretty much a call back to my article last week in which I identified the beginning of a season starts with a full capacity of bubbles of expectation which eventually burst one by one with each failure ensuring that the bubble can no longer be achieved.

We came through last week and so the quadruple is surely still on, obviously. On a serious note we have the visit of West Ham today from the shadily won well-earned stadium of dreams in the hope to build on our excellent start against Fulham. All be it, this is a London derby, its way too early a stage of the season for the West Ham fans and players to give up and so it will require the utmost concentration and focus to ensure West Ham leave the Emirates stadium with nil points.

It seems like a very long time we have not had an arsenal game two to three days after the previous game. Admittedly for us to have played midweek it would have meant we would be rubbing shoulders with our North London rivals taking on the cream of Europe’s finest in the 3rd qualifying rounds of the Europa cup qualification.

The ‘break‘ will have allowed the players to recuperate and be fresh for today’s game. The break certainly allowed the fans to draw their attention from matters on the pitch and absorb all the good feelings from the conclusion of the long running Aubamyang contract situation.  It was nice to finally see the skipper put pen to paper with what some (non-Arsenal affiliated observers) might say was an OTT reveal. Not to me or any other Arsenal fans as we soaked up all the positive words he had to say and all the promo and interviews that followed with Ian Wright et al. It certainly helped fill the void of no football.

It weren’t all super positive news as the transfer of Emi Martinez was also confirmed. This is also a topic that has been covered to death by Arsenal fans on social media so i wont go into it in any depth. The talented Argentinian left on great terms with the fans and he will be held dear to our hearts until he has worldies against us in future meetings. Until then we wish him the best and congratulations on another call up to the Argentina squad yesterday. No doubt another well-earned call up for his recent performances for Arsenal.

In terms of team news I suppose everyone who was available last week are ready to be called upon again. One absence from the line-up is likely to be William Saliba again as he turned out for the U23’s last night in a 2-2 draw with Brighton. I can’t pass too much judgement on his performance as I had only caught about 30 minutes of the match but what I can say is he looked assured and positive on the ball. Always looking up and trying to contribute to the attacks with intelligent balls. I saw some risks in holding onto the ball longer than your average defender but that was counter balanced with how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet. Very much a ball playing centre back he reminded me of Rio Ferdinand in his early days.

William Saliba: His time will come

There is much competition for the centre back places at the moment and his time will come in the first team. There is more experience ahead of him at the moment and we are not in a desperate need to throw anyone in at the moment. It will be good thing for Mikel Arteta to manage his integration into the starting XI, the English lessons are paying off at least, communication is key so its great he is doing all he can to master the language.  David Luiz is back in full training and could potentially be involved in the match day squad so that defensive cover that seemed lacking on the bench last week could be filled by the Brazilian if he doesn’t start.

So we will await and see how everything unfolds today against the Hammers.  My FPL team is already a bust, I need to quickly make some tough decisions before the deadline so with that I will bid you all goodbye and hopefully reconnect tomorrow with a positive review of the game.

Enjoy you day people.

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Dreams Really Did Come True For Arsenal Against Fulham

Now that is how you start a new season. Yesterday I threw some caution to the wind as promoted teams have the potential to throw a spanner into the works. Luckily it didn’t turn out that way as the Arsenal team ran out comfortable winners against new boys Fulham.

A couple of the new boys in Gabriel and Willian started the match, both of them contributing largely to the win, Our star striker scored a trademark peach of a goal and we kept a clean sheet. What wasn’t to love about that? The only dampener was the fact the fans weren’t able to be there in person to celebrate with the team.

It really was an impressive start and that feeling of being top of the league for however long it lasts does feel nice. Let’s enjoy it while we can as you can never guarantee once you are off the top how long before you return.

So what were the takeaway points from the game? Well I could start with before the game as BT Sports weren’t slow in beaming out footage of a warm up spat between Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah. Yes, things were a little heated in a couple of clashes but the whole thing was over as soon as it started. The two players sharing a picture of solidarity post match to quash any overzealous journalist’s plans to take their first chips at Arteta’s Arsenal amour with a negative story.

With that out the way and the game underway all eyes were on the new boys. It raised a few eyebrows when William Saliba wasn’t even named on the bench given the injury to David Luiz. Arteta has his reasons and the young Frenchman’s chance will come but in his absence Gabriel was given his first start and he didn’t fail to impress.

Gabriel winning over teammates instantly.

Admittedly in the opening few minutes there was one moment where a mix up with Leno could have led to a goal but beyond that initial moment the performance of the Brazilian was calm, composed and dominant. The icing on the cake was a debut goal and clean sheet to make for an instant impact to his Arsenal career. I’m liking this start and there’s capacity for him to get better and better, a massive tick of approval on this signing so far.

As for the other new boy, Willian took to his berth in the Arsenal line-up like a duck to water. Understandably he has bags of premiership experience and has been one of Chelsea’s leading players over the years. His quality was not a surprise and I’m sure that now those that may have doubted his signing might have got a glimmer of what he has to offer.

Willian with a pleased Arteta

A debut with two (or three depending on how rose tinted your glasses are) assists isn’t too shabby at all. His quality shone through and he has laid down the gauntlet of competition to his new colleagues that also occupy his position. Competition is healthy and it will no doubt bring out the best in the players. They cannot afford to rest on their laurels and there will be an expectation to bring their A game when called on to the pitch.

Lacazette chipped in with a goal which is always great for a striker to get off the mark nice an early into the season and of course our skipper contributed with what is becoming a trademark finish.

A finish I’d like to call the reverse Robben, you know that goal where he would fly down the right hand side, cut in onto his left, work an opening and bang! Back of the net. Aubamyang’s finish was almost a carbon copy of his last goal against Liverpool in the Charity Shield in the way he cut himself an opening inside his marker then provided a finish of pure quality, power, bend and accuracy into the far corner. I wouldn’t say you don’t save those but more often than not even the best keepers struggle to handle such finishes. Another goal and the hope is a final conclusion to a new and improved signed contract this week.

One thing noticed was the absence of Emi Martinez from the squad and if reports are correct then he is on his way to Aston Villa. It will be sad to see the Argentinian go. He spent many years as an understudy in the hope of one day becoming number one keeper. Last season really was a defining moment in his career and one he hasn’t needed to look back from since. It has been a meteoric rise in such a short space of time and Arsenal fans can’t begrudge him the ambition he has to be a number one keeper somewhere. There are many keepers out there happy to be a career number two, pick up their wages, play a handful of games and be content with that.

Martinez will be missed but will always be remembered for his contributions.

Martinez has proved himself a very able keeper and a return to the Argentinian national squad and potentially become a feature for them is a very realistic possibility with club football as a number one. From a selfish perspective having two top quality keepers would be ideal but we can’t begrudge one of our longest serving current players an opportunity to be more than a number two.

It’s funny when you look back to that game against Brighton when Leno got injured and the amount of dread that spread through the fans that the season would be seen out with an understudy. Martinez had deputised many times in the past but it’s really from the Brighton game that he proved all those years of hard work were visible in his performances. Can you imagine his worth before the Brighton game compared to now? He will be leaving us for a fee circa £20m which will hopefully be spent wisely on reinforcements.

The Martinez story could act as inspiration to the current crop of keepers and Matt Macey another keeper who has put in the years at the club could take any opportunities that come his way with both hands. Although I think a new keeper may come in, the door is not shut on current personnel to prove their selves. Let’s see how this one plays out.

For now we can just bask in the knowledge that we are top of the league and for our new signing Gabriel dreams can come true.

Enjoy you day people.

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Please Don’t burst Any Bubbles On Day One Arsenal

And so we have arrived at the dawn of a new season. The optimism has returned, the belief, the hope, the expectation; it’s all there in abundance. With a new season comes a reset of sorts, many fans instantly dismiss the roller coaster ride of the previous season and address the new one with a clean slate. The title is on despite finishing the last season 20/30…40 points behind the champions. A cup is obtainable this time, top four? Top 6? Upper half of table finish? Avoid relegation.

Ready for new season

We as football fans start the season with many bubbles which inevitably burst as the season progresses but it’s nice to be at that point until that reality kicks in. My club has every chance as much as the next team to win everything on offer until the first ball is kicked and the first round of games complete to calibrate some home truths.

You can’t blame Arsenal fans for feeling optimistic leading into this new season. Of course the league title is very far fetched but… but there’s a feel good factor that has returned to the fan base. A feel good factor helped in part by the rewarding end of season silverware earned and a promising charity shield victory over the reigning champions.

There’s been some shrewd transfer dealings too but with the window still open for a few more weeks yet there’s plenty that could change on the incomings and outgoings of the playing staff.

Our new Head Coach has won over many of the doubters that questioned his initial appointment. The new respect has been well earned and I’m sure that the same way the players are clearly buying in to his idea and philosophy the fans are mirroring that.

As Arsenal fans although many of us may seem demanding but in reality we just want the good football back. With the good football the rewards will follow, the DNA of the club had been siphoned out over the past few years and it’s about time we instilled some discipline and quality that many fans were raised on and always associated with Wenger Arsenal teams.   

The club I feel is on an upward trajectory however it will be a bumpy ride, plenty highs and lows but the important thing is to acknowledge we have the right man in the job and we stand by him through the good and the bad until we get back to where we belong.

So first up is an away trip to newly promoted Fulham, no offence Fulham fans but I really wanted Brentford to win that playoff final. Nothing personal but we’ve been there done that with Fulham, would have been nice to get a new entity in the mix. From what I recall there haven’t been a massive influx of major signings pouring in to Craven Cottage so it seems much reliance is on the team that won promotion (many who saw through relegation too). The keeper coming in Areola is a good acquisition but it seems a lot of hopes fall on Mitrovic and how impactful his anger management sessions over the season break have been.

On paper you wouldn’t be laughed at for expecting an Arsenal win however its opening day of the season, a promoted team with the motivation to prove they aren’t dropping straight back into the Championship and with no fans it’s still unclear who the advantage lies with anymore. 

With the news of the David Luiz injury it’s highly likely we will see one if not both of William Saliba and Gabriel in the starting line-up. I’d expect Arteta not to radicalise the back line instantly and sway to more familiarity at the back meaning Holding and possibly Tierney occupying centre back positions if we go with a back three leading to either Gabriel or Saliba joining them.

Will Saliba start today?

We may see Willian for the first time, it will be interesting to see some competition in those wide areas between Willian, Pepe, Saka and Aubamyang.  It’s actually quite difficult to predict what the line-up will be today but most importantly it’s exciting to get some football back again. We might not be able to go to games and a lot of opening day traditions will have to be put on pause but my God it’s great to have it back. A lot of questions may be answered such as will Ozil and  Guendouzi ever appear in a squad again, will Nketiah start up front ahead of Lacazette, will Ceballos slot straight back into starting eleven, will Arteta wear a tracksuit or slim fit designer clobber?

One thing I do hope is that many of those bubbles I alluded to earlier stay intact after this first game. Let’s start this season well and see where Arteta can take us.  Come on Arsenal!

P.S. As it’s a new season I’m sure many of you have been tearing your hair out deciding your final FPL squads,  hopefully you are now is a settled place and are ready to take on your respective leagues. Well, why not add another league to your bow and join mine. I’m looking to reward the winner with a prize. Come join up, take me on, it’ll be fun. Sign up with the link below or use the following code:

Good luck.

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