Reiss Nelson turned 20 on Tuesday, and it’s about time he gets another chance to start for this Arsenal team.
The youngster was back on the pitch with the u23s on November 1st, but he only made his first senior appearance after injury on Monday. He came off the bench in the final minutes against West Ham United.
Explaining why he’d left Nelson out against Norwich a week earlier, Freddie Ljungberg said:
“There are difficult decisions to be made. I left Reiss Nelson back home in London, which for me is really hard because he’s the future of this club. In my opinion, a great talent, but I had to leave him out.”
Nelson was back on the bench against Brighton, then on the pitch against West Ham. The trip to Standard Liege seems like the perfect time to give him a start.
Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe put everything into Monday’s win, and they need to rest up for Manchester City at the weekend. Rather than overplaying those two, Ljungberg should turn to Nelson and Bukayo Saka.
Before his injury, Nelson was just starting to find form in the senior side. In his final two starts, he scored one and assisted one against Nottingham Forest before adding another assist against Standard Liege.
Then on his return to the starting lineup for the u23s, he helped them back to winning ways.
Steve Bould’s side hadn’t managed a win in five games and were facing Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby, but Nelson’s 45 minutes on the pitch left them 2-0 up. They ended up winning 3-1.
Excluding players who have left, the only player to feature for the first-team and play fewer minutes than Nelson is Emile Smith Rowe. The winger has barely had a chance to make an impact so far.
If Ljungberg really thinks Nelson is the future of the club, he should trust him to have an impact and give his first-choice wingers a rest on Thursday.