Arsenal’s early season purple patch has swiftly blossomed into formidable and lasting form that has left them firing on all cylinders, topping the Premier League table and finishing first in the Europa League group phase.
And now 40-year-old boss Mikel Arteta has a chance to stage the first domestic cup run of the season and clinch a spot in the fourth-round of the Carabao Cup against fellow top-flight outfit Brighton & Hove Albion.
Widely considered the lesser of the major domestic trophies in English football, the Carabao Cup is often an opportunity for sides to issue rotation, providing an opportunity for players outside the typical team sheet to rise within the ranks and earn further shots at regular first-team action.
With menacing Premier League champions Manchester City lurking just two points behind the Gunners, Arteta will be focused on solidifying top spot before the World Cup break, providing respite for the central figures in the squad and alleviating their relentless workload.
On the Chalkboard
One such player who could benefit from Arteta’s prospective midweek rotation is Reiss Nelson, who will be itching to build on his resounding cameo against Nottingham Forest a few weeks ago.
Arsenal issued a 5-0 drubbing over the languishing outfit, and Nelson was at centre stage after scoring twice in three minutes and providing an assist after replacing Bukayo Saka, who withdrew due to a knock, in the first half.
Turning in a stunning match rating of 8.7/10, and earning Man of the Match, Nelson glistened with three shots on target, a 100% dribble success rate, and an 89% passing accuracy.
The £6m-rated forward, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with Hoffenheim during the 2018/19 season, needs to emulate such prolific performances with greater consistency if he is to earn a place in Arteta’s plans, and against the Seagulls, he might have a golden opportunity to do just that.
Despite flourishing in his solitary league outing, Nelson has failed to replicate his fine performance in the Europa League, with SofaScore registering a lowly score of 6.55/10 across four matches.
With the 22-year-old winger’s contract in north London expiring at the end of the season, the clock is indeed ticking; Arteta will need to be witness to a remarkable string of performances if he is to reconsider the player’s place within the ranks at the Emirates.
However time is not up yet, and the Gunners’ boss clearly admires the qualities of his young ace, praising the “evolving” skill set of the ace and heralding his positive attitude to his football.
Indeed, the £38k-per-week star must strike whilst the iron is hot and capitalise on his recent performance against Forest, where he is living up to a past tag of being a ‘game-changer.’
Against Brighton, who will likely be rotating their own starting line-up, there is a glorious chance to leave his mark, and will earn a place in Arteta’s robust Arsenal squad.