To be clear nearly the entire Arsenal squad needs to be re-evaluated. Very little has truly worked this season. Leno has been solid in goal, behind an ever-changing and shaky back line. And Aubameyang has 10 goals from 14 games in the Premier League, currently third best.
After those two it’s hard to make a strong case that anyone has been a consistent performer this season. Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka have been nice surprises, but neither will, or can be expected to, deliver individual performances that will lift the club into the top four. Thus, one of Freddie Ljungberg’s jobs, during however long he is the top man, tinker with the tactics and personnel. In this case, Reiss Nelson.
Remember the 2018-19 Hype?
Nelson went on loan to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, after signing a new contract extension with Arsenal. In his first seven league appearances, Reiss racked up six goals and one assist. Clearly attacking talent there, that needed to be given the right opportunity. And he scored as both a left and ring winger for Hoffenheim.
Unfortunately for Nelson, he suffered a few minor injuries and never got the chance to play a full 90 minutes for Hoffenheim after October. He ended the season with one additional goal, helping the club finish 9th in the German league.
A Bright Start to 2019-20 at Arsenal
Expectations were that Nelson would get a significant amount of time for the Gunners, potentially splitting time on the right wing with Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan went on loan to Roma - but then the club made a record signing in Nicolas Pepe. Who plays his best in that right attacking role.
Even so, Nelson got the nod early, as Pepe got up to speed with the club. And it worked. Reiss played six games for Arsenal, across all competitions, picking up one goal and two assists. But more importantly the club never lost when he made an appearance. But after an injury and being shunned by Unai Emery, Nelson has yet to reappear for the Gunners since the 4-0 win over Standard Liege in the Europa League (he got an assist that day).
He fits Ljungberg’s background
Nelson is young, still only 19. Freddie spent last season coaching the Arsenal Academy and is familiar with the talent the club has in the pipeline. He will want to utilize that resource, as we saw with Saka getting subbed in over Pepe this past weekend.
More so, Reiss likes to attack, to run, and has flair. All qualities that Ljungberg had himself during his Arsenal days - and then took to delighting MLS crowds playing for the Seattle Sounders. The Arsenal attack, like the rest of the team needs to be adjusted, pushed, and improved. It’s time to revisit Reiss Nelson.