Danny Welbeck recently had to undergo two ankle surgeries after an injury sustained in Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Sporting CP, but could that open the door for Reiss Nelson’s return?
With the possibility that Welbeck will spend a number of months on the sidelines, Unai Emery suddenly has a new problem to deal with in attack.
Up until now, he could play Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as much as he liked in the Premier League, knowing that Welbeck could cover whenever the duo needed resting. Now, however, he doesn’t have that option, and he’ll have to search for an alternative.
One option favoured by a number of Arsenal supporters is recalling Nelson in the January transfer window. Fans have watched the 18-year-old scoring goal after goal for Hoffenheim in the early part of the season, and they’re impatient to see him back doing the same in North London.
Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson scoring on his Bundesliga debut for Hoffenheim!pic.twitter.com/4IkaEXcrbj
— BT Sport (@btsport) September 15, 2018
Although Nelson isn’t a traditional centre-forward, having him on the wing would allow the likes of Aubameyang to focus on playing down the middle, so Emery could rotate between his senior strikers and make sure they were both always fresh and playing regularly.
However, the alternative is simply to promote Eddie Nketiah. The young striker could work as a like-for-like replacement for Welbeck up front (albeit with a very different style of play) or he could even start out wide in the same way Nelson would, as he’s done in the past for club and country.
The advantage of that method is that it allows Nelson to continue developing with Hoffenheim at the same time. The 18-year-old might be proving his worth in front of goal, but he still has room for improvement in the rest of his game, and working with Julian Nagelsmann for the full year would allow him to do that.
If Nelson returns early, Nketiah will presumably have to go out on loan to get chances, which seems a bit unnecessary if Arsenal are calling another young player back from loan at the same time.
Whilst it’s exciting to see Nelson doing so well, I think it’s worth giving him a full season of regular game time, rather than pulling him back early just for a few second-string games. We’ll see what Emery decides over the next couple of months though.