Arsenal has some selection questions going into Manchester City, but if the kids worked against Liverpool, then what’s the question?
Arsenal‘s win against Liverpool was, to say the least, surprising. But amidst the surprise, the overwhelming majority accept that you won’t win many games like the Gunners won that one. Especially being Arsenal and all.
Outshot 24-3, reliant on tremendous defending, this flimsy club was able to turn away the Premier League champions, exploit two mistakes, and cling to a 2-1 lead to ensure victory. And with Manchester City up next, my question is why can’t we do that again?
Not the clinging, necessarily, but the utilizing of what worked. If you ask me, which you are, there were two players in particular who did incredibly well, and they aren’t regular players.
Rob Holding and Reiss Nelson have both been lacking in opportunity this year. For Rob Holding, I don’t get it. He’s been fantastic in his performances, but apparently not fantastic enough to unseat our already-flimsy defense.
Nelson’s lack of opportunities I understand. This attack is packed with talent young and old and Nelson just hasn’t stamped himself on his opportunities like others have—namely Bukayo Saka. But after seeing his performance against Liverpool, a performance that I am officially referring to as “the reckoning,” if you live by the philosophy that you play the hot foot, you don’t get much hotter than Nelson.
He has to be feeling pretty damn good after a performance where he and Alexandre Lacazette combined to account for all the goal production in an effort where there was next to none. But even before that, he was making runs, he was getting in behind Robertson. He was doing the work that we want his position to do.
Between Holding and Nelson, I have to wonder if we can do any better. Obviously I’d love to see Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka out there because they have more than a reckoning to their name, but for the sake of immediacy, why wouldn’t you prioritize Nelson?
Maybe the game doesn’t take on the same shape—hopefully it doesn’t—but that doesn’t discount how good these two were and how good we’ve known they are, even if we don’t see it as often as we’d like.
If not Nelson, surely Holding, right? Surely it’s obvious that he’s an upgrade on this defense. I have to believe more people than me see this.