Following reports on Wednesday that Reiss Nelson was hopeful of a start against FK Bodo/Glimt on Thursday, Mikel Arteta discussed the young winger in his pre-match press conference.
Arteta suggested Nelson is set to get his opportunity after a while away on loan and then injured, insisting there’s something special about the winger.
“After the spell that he had last year on loan, we wanted him back to see if there are any changes, and there’s a prospect that we can really take to the next level,” Arteta said.
“We think the potential is there and we think we’ve seen something in Reiss that is special.
“He’s been a part of our academy system and now he’s going to have an opportunity. He’s been out for almost three months with an injury, he’s back now, he’s fully fit and he’s ready to play. He just needs minutes now.
“His attitude and the way he’s matured and evolved over the past year or so has been really impressive, I think everybody is talking about it and now he needs to do it on the pitch.”
After a positive cameo or two in pre-season, it was a blow for Nelson to pick up an injury in the first week of the season.
That setback ensured he hasn’t been able to make a single appearance for the club this campaign so far, only returning to the bench at the weekend.
But Arsenal now have a game every weekend and midweek from now until the World Cup break, with Emile Smith Rowe out injured for that entire period.
Nelson is Arteta’s primary alternative to Martinelli, and he’s going to need him.
That gives Nelson a real opportunity, not just for pity minutes, but to show he can step up to the responsibility in games that matter for Arsenal. That starts with a possible opportunity against Europa League group leaders Bodo/Glimt on Thursday.