Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson says he was pleasantly surprised when manager Unai Emery opted to start him in the first two Premier League games of the season against Newcastle and Burnley.
With senior players like Nicolas Pepe and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both available for the opening two matches, the 19-year-old said he did not expect to be thrust into the starting eleven but he appreciated the trust that the Gunners boss showed in him:
“To be starting in the Premier League is a big achievement because I didn’t think I would start the first two games of the season. I think that’s a very big statement from the manager as well, to play me in the first two games with the likes of Pepe and Mkhitaryan, world-class players, on the bench.
“I thought the manager would have eased me into it, but I did well against Real Madrid and in a couple of other pre-season games, so when the chance came, I took it well.”
Mkhitaryan’s departure on loan to Roma, and Alex Iwobi’s move to Everton has opened up more possibilities for Nelson to feature, but he will still have a fight on his hands with Pepe now fully fit.
The Ivorian will likely play regularly alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front and Nelson will need to be patient to get his next opportunity.
He has been impressive for England’s Under 21s during the international break, having scored against Turkey and started versus Kosovo yesterday. His next major chance for the Gunners is likely to come in the Europa League against Frankfurt on Thursday week.