Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta may have had his squad depth concerns eased on Sunday as a surprise candidate starred against Nottingham Forest. After Bukayo Saka was taken off injured in the first half, Reiss Nelson came on to make a dramatic impact despite feeding off scraps of game time so far this term.
Arteta has the luxury of a settled starting XI this season having found a winning recipe that has left Arsenal top of the Premier League. They made sure of that with a resounding 5-0 win over Forest on Sunday to leapfrog Manchester City, who beat Leicester earlier in the weekend.
Having 11 consistent performers to call on has stood the Gunners in good stead but Arteta has urged caution over the team’s prospects of keeping it up for the whole season. Before last week’s Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven, which Arsenal lost 2-0, the Spaniard bemoaned a lack of squad depth.
When asked if wholesale changes could be on the cards, he told reporters: “We don’t have that many players!
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Three minutes later he made a good run into the box and latched onto a low cross to notch his second of the game and the season – his first Premier League goals since the one he managed in 2019/20. Just five minutes after that, he rolled the ball back to the superb Thomas Partey, who curled expertly into the top corner from long range.
Nelson has been on Arsenal’s books for well over a decade, threatening to break into the first team several times. He enjoyed a stellar loan spell with Hoffenheim as a teenager, scoring seven Bundesliga goals, and he spent last campaign on loan at Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie.
“I think not only me but all his teammates, all the staff are so happy for him because he is a kid that is really changing, he’s really evolving, he’s really maturing,” Arteta told the media after the final whistle on Sunday. “He’s showing every day how much he wants it and today he had the opportunity, and he did extremely well because it helped us win the game.”
Nelson may be called on again over the next two weeks as Arsenal have four fixtures to get through before domestic action pauses for the World Cup, starting with a Europa League tie against FC Zurich on Thursday.