Reiss Nelson picked up the baton by Dan Smith
It’s not how you get the opportunity it’s what you do when you get it.
Reiss Nelson admitted himself he expected Sunday ‘to be just another day on the bench’.
He hadn’t played in the Prem for a couple of years and might have assumed he wouldn’t this season.
Yet when Saka limped off injured Arteta told the 22-year-old to warm up.
Obviously, the manager has been impressed in training because Nketiah up front and shifting Jesus out wide, or Vieira as a number 10 and Odegaard on the right, both were more obvious options.
It discredits the theory that some Gooners have that Eddie Nketiah is simply unlucky that he’s not asked to start more, and that he shouldn’t be judged on cameo appearances.
Because this weekend another academy graduate was rewarded for what he had been showing on the training pitch, and when given the baton he ran with it.
In any sport, in life in general, you have to do what it takes to get noticed. You can’t assume how many opportunities you’re going to get, your first could be your last.
After a couple of loans abroad, Reiss knows he’s not going to get too many chances to prove he belongs at this level.
He’s out of contract in the summer and at an age where he needs to be playing.
The assumption is he will be the latest Gunner to be allowed to run down his deal.
That’s why Nottingham Forest could turn out to be the turning point of his career.
In the space of 8 minutes, he scored twice and made another.
It’s not me being as fickle as a player scoring a couple of tap-ins so now he’s proved himself.
It’s about a player showing the character to get himself into those positions, the personality to demand the ball, the self-belief that you can make the difference.
Anyone who’s grown up at Arsenal and has made it to the senior squad has at some point showcased they have talent.
Whether it’s Joe Willock, Maitland Niles, Eddie, Reiss, etc, that’s never been the issue.
The question mark is do they have the mentality to deal with what comes with representing a club our size?
Too many act like competition winners, scared to express themselves, therefore playing the safe pass.
That’s why Willock is at Newcastle and Niles at Southampton.
A teenager Fabregas, Wilshere and Smith-Rowe never had that problem.
Suddenly Reiss Nelson has earnt the right to start on Thursday. If he can handle the conditions of a must-win scenario his boss will have even more faith in him.
That’s how quickly football can change.
Suddenly Reiss Nelson has momentum.
We all want one of our own to succeed.
Whatever happens, as a boyhood fan, yesterday would have been a dream come true. A moment to live forever which no one can take away from him.
He’s got the baton, now run with it.
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