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Mikel Arteta: “Special” Reiss Nelson will have his opportunity

Mikel Arteta: “Special” Reiss Nelson will have his opportunity

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is excited to see what “special” attacker Reiss Nelson can contribute to the club upon his return from injury.

The 22-year-old garnered a reputation as one of the top talents in Arsenal’s academy ranks a few years ago, but he is yet to enjoy a breakthrough campaign for the Gunners.

Nelson returned to the Emirates aiming to re-establish himself as a fully-fledged member of the first team after a productive loan spell at Feyenoord last season, helping the Eredivisie side reach the Europa Conference League final.

After being handed opportunities to impress in pre-season, Nelson sustained a serious thigh injury in training back in August and has subsequently been in the treatment room for several weeks.

Nelson missed a total of seven games for Arsenal in all tournaments, but he was back on the substitutes bench for the weekend’s 3-1 North London derby win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Reiss Nelson in action for Feyenoord in May 2022© Reuters

The Englishman is expected to be handed his first competitive minutes of the campaign in Thursday’s Europa League Group A clash with Bodo/Glimt, and Arteta is keen to unlock his full potential in the coming months.

“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,” quotes Arteta as saying at his pre-game press conference.

“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.”

Nelson registered four goals and seven assists in 32 appearances during his brief time as a Feyenoord player, during which he made eight starts in their run to the Europa Conference League final, which they lost 1-0 to Roma.

The Hale End youngster has four goals and four assists to boast from 48 senior appearances in an Arsenal shirt, but his most recent appearance in red and white came in last season’s 2-0 defeat to Brentford on the opening day of the Premier League.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates on October 1, 2022© Reuters

Arteta was also asked about Nelson’s potential to emulate Emile Smith Rowe, and the 40-year-old is confident that the winger can enjoy similar success given his “really impressive” evolution.

“That’s what he needs to do and now he needs to show that on the pitch. 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,” Arteta added.

While Nelson is expected to play a part on Thursday, Smith Rowe recently underwent surgery to correct a troublesome groin problem and is not expected to return to training until December.

Mohamed Elneny will also be absent for the Gunners for the next few months with his hamstring injury, but Cedric Soares has now recovered from a knock and subsequent setback.

Arsenal will endeavour to regain top spot in Europa League Group A with victory over Bodo/Glimt, who sit one point clear of the Premier League leaders having played a game more.

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