After a successful loan spell at TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, expectations were high for Reiss Nelson at the Emirates this season. But, the youngster has so far failed to live up to the hype and has been overlooked in most Premier League matches. And judging Unai Emery’s tactics, it won’t be surprising to see the young winger struggling to find success under the Spaniard at Arsenal.
Analysing Reiss Nelson’s season at Hoffenheim
Nelson scored an impressive seven goals for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga last season. But, it is fair to point out that the winger had featured in 628 minutes of league football. He, in fact, started only five times, with coach Julian Nagelsmann often utilising him as a super sub.
The current RB Leipzig trainer also used him in a variety of roles, including the attacking midfield slot. The main idea was to utilise Nelson as an alternative for the likes of Andrej Kramaric, Joelinton and Ishak Belfodil. He and Adam Szalai, therefore, were often brought on as a substitute.
Nelson’s pace and energy offered more vigour and tenacity to the Hoffenheim attack, which was useful especially in the final phase of the game when the opposition generally tires. As a result, Die Kraichgauer ended the campaign with the third-highest scoring record in the league despite finishing ninth in the table.
Examining Nelson’s problems at Arsenal
Perhaps the main reason why Reiss Nelson may struggle at the Emirates under Emery is Arsenal’s style of play. Although the Gunners boast a host of pacy attackers, they are generally identified as a possession-based side that like to dominate the ball and create chances.
As a result, teams often look to employ a deep-defensive backline, especially in fear of the pace of central striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This, in turn, nullifies the importance of pace of the Arsenal attackers unless in a counter-attacking situation.
Nelson, to that extent, may not be the player Emery is looking for, to be honest. The youngster is good at whipping in dangerous crosses into the box and occasionally getting on the end of scoring opportunities. But, when it comes to probing the opposition with patient build-up, Nelson lacks the dribbling prowess to make any notable impact.
Moreover, the nature of attacking teammates Nelson had at Hoffenheim is different compared to what he has now. Players like Kramaric, Belfodil and Joelinton tend to make the most out of the limited touches they get on the ball, which tuned in well with Hoffe’s style of play under Nagelsmann.
At Arsenal, he is mainly expected to feed the two central strikers in Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette while Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil are players who like to keep hold of the ball and create chances by themselves.
Then again, at the age of 19, Nelson has time on his side and can only improve. And hopefully, for him and the Arsenal fans, he can slowly get used to this new style of play under Emery.