Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette not going to make this easy
Arsenal has been waiting a long time for Reiss Nelson to break through and we may finally have seen it, and against Liverpool no less. Is this his reckoning at long last?
There’s a lot of things you need to see when considering if a player has truly arrived at the highest level. For Arsenal, they have not yet seen that from Reiss Nelson. All the potential in the world has not translated to a consistent and reliable presence on the Premier League squad.
That may have changed against Liverpool. For the first time in his career, he was a standout performer with the hardcore statistics to back it up after the match. You could look at the match or the numbers and know he excelled.
It started when nothing else was happening. Reiss Nelson was making runs in behind Robertson and even though he wasn’t finding the services what threat we had was through him.
The breakthrough came from his harassment of Virgil van Dijk. The mammoth defender could handle the pressure that Nelson was putting on him and he misplayed a pass straight to Alexandre Lacazette to give the Gunners the equalizer.
Nelson re-upped that effort later on when it was Lacazette’s turn to jump on a misplayed pass. The Frenchman found Nelson, who did what I will henceforth refer to as “the reckoning.” With the ball at his feet and defenders closing down, Nelson had two options—shoot or pass to a wide-open Nicolas Pepe, who would not have missed.
Nelson took agency of the situation with such coolness and composure and he scored with much the same. It was the look of someone who wasn’t going to trust that opportunity to anyone else. He wanted the goal, he wanted to help his team all on his own and not let it pass him by.
That’s how veterans handle the situation. That’s how first-team regulars handle it. And it’s the first time I’ve felt that Nelson was in complete control of a final ball situation.
The reckoning has come and went, now we need to see what happens from there. But the confidence has to be flowing in Nelson after that one moment, and it’s thrilling to think it could be the transition we’ve been waiting for.
The potential may finally be turning into a hardcore ability, and it feels long overdue. He’s still young though. There’s still time.