Can Reiss Nelson be a first team regular at Arsenal this season?

After his dazzling displays for Arsenal in recent weeks, teenager Nelson has suddenly been thrown into the limelight as the Gunners’ next big thing.

Can Reiss Nelson be a first team regular at Arsenal this season?
Nelson competing in the Community Shield against Chelsea

Reiss Nelson is being touted as one of the stars of the future for Arsenal after being heavily praised by fans, and is gunning for a starting roles this season in the club's quest to regain Champions League football.

Will the Englishman be able to oust some of the club’s greatest stars from the starting eleven, will he simply have to settle for appearances from the bench or will even he even manage to feature regularly at all?

Pre-season

Nelson put in solid display's during matches in Australia and the Far East and was one of the brightest players in 3-0 loss against Chelsea. However it was the Emirates Cup tie against Benfica where he really proved his worth and somewhat catapulted himself to further prominence amongst the fan-base.

He has generated a lot of hype and attention on social media since due to these stellar shows with some fans on social media arguing he is already better equipped than fellow countryman Theo Walcott.

Despite not being his first choice position, Nelson has been deployed as a right wing back during pre-season. On the matter manager Arsene Wenger said: “What is good for his education is to play in this position (wing-back) as well because we learn how to cope with defensive responsibilities, and that’s a good part of the education of the modern player.”

Does this mean Lemar isn’t an essential signing?

All summer Arsenal have been heavily linked with Monaco winger Thomas Lemar but have still yet to agree a fee for the Frenchman. Lemar would undoubtedly be an astute addition to the team and is has proven himself as one of the higher tier players in Ligue 1.

Alternatively Nelson, 17, offers the Gunners a fresh, unique talent that has come straight out of the youth academy which would not only offer a home-grown player as part of the squad, but would also boost the credibility of their academy.

However Nelson is still very young, only signed his first team contract in December 2016 (double check) and has only been in in the spotlight as of late. Whether he will be able to cope with the demands of the Premier League remains to be seen and it may take some time for him to get used to the fast tempo and high intensity football.

As of right now Lemar still seems to be ‘the signing’ to take Arsenal to a higher level and it would make sense to do everything to acquire his services.

However if Arsenal do fail to sign him this summer, Nelson may see that as the ideal opportunity to show Wenger that Lemar is not an essential signing.  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who could he replace in the team?

Despite featuring heavily as a wing back during pre-season, manager Arsene Wenger sees his future as a more attacking player - "He’s a more offensive player, more a guy who can play as one of the three strikers or as an offensive midfielder," said the Frenchman.

This could mean late substitute appearances for one of the main three attacking players (likely to be Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil) will be his best bet for minutes.

Unfortunately, with Arsenal’s strong attacking options, it will be considerably harder to make many first team appearances higher up the pitch. Even as back up options, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi are higher up the pecking order.

Currently his best bet for minutes from the bench and potentially a first team role would be as a wing back in replacement of Hector Bellerin (maybe Sead Kolasinac as a left wingback although it appears his role is locked in and it would be on Nelson's weaker side).

After having a breakthrough 2015/16 season, Bellerin was less impressive last season with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain often being preferred in his role in the latter stages of the season, and Wenger may see this as Nelson’s best chance of playing experience, especially if Oxlade-Chamberlain makes his much rumoured move away.

For now, with key players such as Sanchez, Ozil and Aaron Ramsey to return, it would be an achievement to even make the bench in the league with the talent at Arsenal’s disposal. However with appearances in cup competitions, (especially the Europa League after Wenger’s comments about using youngsters), looking increasingly likely, Nelson will be determined to show age is just a number and thrust himself into the starting eleven picture.

Arsenal FC