As Arsenal prepare for their trip to Elland Road, there has been plenty of news doing the rounds regarding our plans during the January transfer window. One thing is absolutely clear - we are looking for creative players who can make a difference in the final third. Till then however, we need to make use of internal solutions. And Reiss Nelson is a player who certainly must be in this conversation.
Even if you'd like to consider the 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa as an anomaly, one thing was crystal clear. Villa showed us all what we're lacking when we saw Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley combining together and displaying great initiative in and around the box to make things happen.
Nelson may be young, a bit raw in certain elements but one thing you cannot deny is that he's a profile we lack in the first team. When teams sit against us, we are too structured and predictable. Whilst some of it can be pinned on Arteta, it is largely the personnel involved that are the issue.
Take the 0-1 home defeat to Leicester City for example. We played 3 midfielders, all of whom are best in the build-up phase. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a centre forward who was played outwide. Lacazette has declined and as I stated in my last piece, I believe it is time to move on from him. Willian does make himself available but is too safe with his overall game.
There is no way we have a shot at top 4 playing that way, which is why it is important to trust a player like Nelson who can give us something different.
In Nelson's last Premier league start for Arsenal, he scored the winning goal against the Champions, Liverpool. It is pretty unfortunate he hasn't had a start since when you consider how average the performances from certain others have been.
After plenty of talk about a potential loan away from Arsenal, it was revealed by Mikel Arteta that Nelson had decided it was best for him to stay and fight for his place at the club. When he was brought on as a substitute against MK Dons, one got the feeling that Reiss had worked on his physique and it translated into quality performances away to Leicester in the Carabao Cup and against Dundalk in the Europa league.
Whilst Reiss has suffered from his fair share of niggles, he has been extremely unfortunate not to get more game time. The good thing however, is that Arteta rates Nelson and is aware about the qualities he can bring to the table.
Arteta stated at the start of the year:
"I know Reiss because I coached him when he was 16 and straightaway he caught my eye. What I will say is that Reiss has the potential to do whatever he wants. If he wants to do it, wants to learn and wants to challenge himself he can be a top, top player for this football club."
Whilst Nelson hasn't had the sort of impact the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have had thus far, he is certainly a player that can give us that sort of quality. Additionally, Nelson has predominantly operated from the right flank under Arteta, but his best position is arguably coming inside from the left. It creates interesting angles from which he can show us his trickery and flair. He has an eye for goal and can make the difference in the final third.
I believe it is only going to be a matter of time before we see Reiss back in the side - the talent is there and it is going to shine through for all to see.