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Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson hungry for Premier League action after clicking into gear in Europe

Simon Collings
·4-min read
<p>Reiss Nelson scored Arsenal’s second goal in their 3-0 Europa League win over Molde</p> (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson scored Arsenal’s second goal in their 3-0 Europa League win over Molde

(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

As Mikel Arteta put it, things are finally start to “click” for Reiss Nelson at Arsenal - and at just the right time, too.

The 20-year-old put in one of his best performances of the season so far on Thursday night, getting on the scoresheet in the 3-0 win over Molde and looking a threat all game.

Nelson has not had many opportunities to shine during the current campaign, but the Europa League has given him some kind of platform and he is beginning to use it.

“He’s made some big steps in the last month or so,” said Arteta.

“We’re doing a lot of work with him. He’s so willing. He’s asking for more all the time. He wants individual meetings. He wants to work on the pitch in certain aspects in which we think he can improve.

“He had a click and we needed that click. Now it’s up to him, but I must say that his last performances have been really good.”

Nelson’s rise is timely for Arsenal and Arteta, who head into the busy festive period knowing they will be without Nicolas Pepe for three Premier League matches following his red card at Leeds.

Bukayo Saka and Willian are also injury doubts for Sunday’s game at home to Wolves, which has left the door open for Nelson to start.

Naturally the winger is eager to do that, not least because he has seen how fellow academy graduate Joe Willock has used performances in the Europa League to show Arteta why he should start in the Premier League.

“Joe is in excellent form and it just shows that if you do your business on the pitch the manager is not afraid to throw you in like he has with Joe and with everyone else,” said Nelson.

“You see young [Folarin] Balogun got a goal [against Molde] as well and it is nice to see young prospects coming through and getting the goals.

“This season I have been patiently waiting and then I got the goal last night, so I am buzzing.”

Arsenal have had to wait patiently for Nelson to come of age and, while there are certainly sterner tests to come than Molde, Thursday night felt like a big moment for the youngster.

Arteta has often spoken glowingly about him, especially as he was at Arsenal as a player when Nelson was coming through the ranks, but he has rarely praised his mental attitude like he did after this win in Norway.

For Nelson, there has never been a question mark around his talent. Youth coaches at Arsenal have long hailed his ability and touted him for the top, but the key was always going to be fulfilling that potential.

NTB via REUTERS
NTB via REUTERS

That takes mental strength and now you feel as though Nelson is starting to show such a quality.

He undoubtedly showed it in the summer, when he turned down the chance to leave on loan because he wanted to fight for his place.

Nelson was convinced he could get minutes at Arsenal and Thursday night’s win showed he was perhaps right.

“He showed a great attitude, in my opinion, to say that he didn’t want to leave on loan because he believes that he’s got a chance to play for this football club,” said Arteta.

“He’s showing that he wants to take that direction. He’s performing in the right way.”

The next step for Nelson is to deliver in the Premier League and he deserves to start against Wolves on Sunday.

Arsenal have lacked goals when playing domestically, but Nelson offers a spark and creativity that can be the difference.

“He’s another player that wants to take you on all the time,” said Arteta. “He’s very vertical, he’s a great player when he runs in behind and he’s very unpredictable.”

There will be tougher tests ahead for Nelson, but you feel as though he is on the path to success now.

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Read More

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Arteta backs Balogun to stay at Arsenal following first senior goal

What we learned: Pepe banishes demons; Balogun shows Arsenal potential