Arsenal star Nelson may finally prove Henry right after Forest double

Arsenal v Nottingham Forest: Pictures

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Arsenal ace Reiss Nelson has gone some way to proving Gunners icon Thierry Henry correct after bagging a brace in the club’s 5-0 thumping of Nottingham Forest on Sunday. Nelson was given a rare opportunity to impress in the Premier League by Mikel Arteta following an injury to Bukayo Saka. 

Nelson replaced Saka after half an hour and scored twice early in the second half. His strikes were the first Premier League goals the 22-year-old has scored since July 2020. The academy graduate also registered an assist for Thomas Partey. 

A highly-rated prospect as a teenager, Nelson has not yet lived up to the hype. Henry, Arsenal’s record goalscorer, wrote in 2017 that Nelson has “all the attributes” to carve a successful career and had “desire, confidence and a great attitude”. 

Wide man Nelson made his first couple of appearances for Arsenal as a wing-back under Arsene Wenger. After impressing Arteta on Sunday, he could eventually prove Henry’s glowing assessment correct. 

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“This kid has all the talent to be knocking on the door of the first team. After two substitute appearances — in the Community Shield and Europa League — he made his first start in the Carabao Cup,” the former striker wrote in his column for the Sun newspaper five years ago.

“It was a shame not to see him start in his best position. He is a No. 10 or a winger and he played as a wing-back. But as a kid, at a club like Arsenal, you take every chance you get.

“Now, having all the attributes to make it and actually making it is a massive gap. It’s like the distance from earth to the moon. He is about to enter the real world, the pro world. Can he handle it? Well, he has desire, confidence and a great attitude. He will run at you and be brave on the ball.

“People talk about being brave in football like going in for a 50-50 tackle but bravery can also be about decision-making when in possession. Reiss is brave because he takes risks, he takes on the opposition.

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“I watched his games in the Emirates Cup in pre-season and he came on against Cologne in the Europa League. And there were flashes from him that he is comfortable around the first team.

“He is quick — and not just across the ground. He is quick in the mind, he understands the game. But he is also quick with the ball and has fast feet. He is direct, there is no inefficiency, no messing around for the sake of it. It is great that he is coming through the Arsenal system and getting near to the first team.”

Nelson has made just 27 appearances for Arsenal under Arteta, with most of those as a substitute and in the Europa League and domestic cup competitions. The Spaniard said the youngster has “evolved” this term. 

Pressed on how, Arteta added: “How mature he is, how focused he is in his profession. The way he talks, the way he reflects, the way he respects decisions, the way he is challenging everybody every single day.

“He is a joy of a kid. We all want him to be successful and do well. What he has done today for the team is something he really merits.”

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