Reiss Nelson Needs to Hit the Gym, and Fast. by AI
Reiss Nelson was a highly rated youngster in the Arsenal youth setup. He was classified in the same category as the likes of Jadon Sancho. Highly rated players in the Arsenal youth setup tend to do really well in senior football. The likes of Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe prove this to be true.
But Nelson has been largely stop and start for Arsenal. His most consistent period has come under Mikel Arteta towards the end of his first half season with the club. But the young lad himself has simply not shown enough at the highest level in the same way as Bukayo Saka or Emile Smith-Rowe.
It is my humble opinion that Reiss Nelson’s technique is not the problem. He has a fantastic technical base. Based on technique alone, he would be a star already. But look at Reiss Nelson’s physical levels. Compared to the likes of Smith-Rowe, Martinelli and Saka, Nelson is simply not on the same planet.
Physicality is important in adult football. There are many games this season in which opponents have tried to physically roughen up Saka and Smith-Rowe without success. These boys are extremely strong and durable. They can forcefully impose their game on the opposition. Look at how Emile Smith-Rowe simply tore through the entire left flank of Tottenham in the last North London Derby. Reiss Nelson, for all his technique, cannot yet do that.
The sheer pace, strength and ability to ride tackles is what makes Wilfred Zaha one of the most dangerous wingers in the league. He was always technically blessed and he took his game to another level when he hit the gym and worked on himself.
Jack Grealish is another example of a technically excellent player who has since gone on to be as physically strong as he is technically. Physicality allows your technique to flourish. It allows you to play without fear. If you know that you can play through two 6ft defenders with sheer power alone, it makes you much more confident in yourself.
Reiss Nelson against Andy Robertson today is a physical mismatch. He can get past Robertson, for sure, but Robertson can simply overpower him so much that he can’t do much with the ball.
Nelson will still end up being a good winger. But he will never be good enough for Arsenal if he does not hit the gym—and fast.
Time is running out quickly for him.