Reiss Nelson needs to improve his power and pace to become a success

Nelson Needs to Hit the Gym

Reiss Nelson’s development has confounded many Arsenal fans who have always appreciated his talent and immense ball control. It’s not only Arsenal fans who have been impressed by Nelson: professional coaches have thought highly of him, as well, not least Arsene Wenger and Mikel Arteta. But what is wrong with the boy who was once considered more talented than Jadon Sancho?

One of the prerequisites of making it at a professional level and especially in the Premier League is physical development. You have to be sturdy in some sense, able to hold your own against the big bullies of the top flight. Having some power and/or pace (PnP) goes a long way in helping you in multiple match situations. Consider the other youth attackers at the club: Bukayo Saka is extremely resilient for a 19-year-old and possesses a great ability to burst with power into space. Gabriel Martinelli has pace for days. Smith-Rowe has a long, powerful stride reminiscent of De Bruyne. Nketiah is quite muscular and Odegaard is not easy to knock off at all.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 29: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal in action during the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match between Arsenal FC and Dundalk. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Nelson seemingly has none of these. All he’s got going for him is the technique and ball control. That is not enough to make it. Most good wingers, young or otherwise, nowadays have plenty of PnP. The list is endless: Sterling, Zaha, Grealish, Mane, Salah, Gnabry, Sane, Rashford, etc. You don’t need to have crazy physicality or pace but you need to be able to ride challenges. Hazard is a great example of this. Messi is another. That hardiness must be there.

The thing with PnP is that it elevates your ability on the ball. Zaha is a prime example of this. Blessed with good pace and outstanding power, the Ivorian can bulldoze through the defensive line while carrying the ball with ease. If Nelson was simply able to run past his man or power through him, he might already be a top winger. Unfortunately, he’s unable to do both and he can’t even ride challenges. You cannot rely solely on technique unless you are as gifted as Neymar Dos Santos. Physical development is key to making sure that your technique stands a chance to show itself.

Nelson needs to hit the gym or he will end up playing for Ajax or some middling La Liga club.

Agboola Israel

Tags Nelson Sancho


  1. Replace the name “Nelson” with Willian, Nketiah, or Xhaka and ask yourself does it still apply?

    Nelson never got the opportunities Nketiah did, even though 1 ST has more responsibilities that 1 of 2 wingers.

    Willian was worse than trash for 6 months, Nelson somehow couldn’t offer more than Willian’s nothingness for months and months?

    Arteta should be working more with young talent on hand. Or at least have the sense to have an assistant to sharpen young players.

    Wasn’t that his job under Pep? Anyone remember when Arteta joined he talked up our youth and his eagerness to develop them, Remember?

    Now most youth are on loan or frozen out; Arteta going full Pep and wanting to buy all new shiny toys.

    Kronke will NEVER buy Arteta his dream team of 11 players. Odegaard cost a King’s ransome if even possible.

    Better to bring in an assistant who can sharpen our youth. Nelson, Balogun, Azeez, Lopez, Saliba, Mavro, etc…

    Instead of pipe dreams transfers like Odegaard, Hakimi, and such. Unfortunately our brand has lost some luster, and we don’t even play the attacking football most players like.

    Never thought I’d see the day where London was a bigger draw than our style of football. We play $hit, but at least it’s in North London.

    1. If MA job is to work with young players, what is PER and Bould’s job at the under age teams? The man has a Job to do, he has to find the balance BTW results and development. If he put out all the under 21 players, they will get him sacked while trying to turn them to messy and ronaldo. He needs some ready made players that he can trust to do a job abeit temporary to give him time to get the best out of the youngsters. This is called management. Some of you here think coaching is the same as fifa 11.

      1. Well said sir Joe. Some people on here can just be too extra with their take on things without much thought put in. Let them tell me how many teams in the league or top leagues field mostly teenagers and are top of their leagues. Getting tired of reading lots of comments on JA cos of this constant my way or the highway thinking.

      2. Per was one of the most boring defenders without pace, stamina or technique, except for height and positioning. Remember he mentioned that he would feel sick before games with anxiety? Other than an obedient Yes Sir man, he offers nothing in coaching as he offered nothing in defense. The real deal was Freddie and he was booted out by Arteta. Freddie was instrumental in the youth development of Saka and others.

  2. Yeah this isn’t the reason at all. He’s got enough pace and he’s not especially weak, it’s decision-making and probably a bit of confidence.
    I can’t believe you mentioned Nketiah as a counter example – he really is a player who needs to hit the gym to make it in his position, as he does otherwise have enough talent and self belief imo.

  3. I think pace can be trained to an extent, but the natural pace comes with the player’s legs. I believe his playing style is more suited for the CAM role

  4. Nelson is definitely quick enough, especially with the ball at his feet. He’s also made some big gains in his upper body strength.

    Having seen him play for the U23s in recent months, he still needs to work on his end product. Finishing, crossing and low balls from the byline. Last game I saw he should’ve had at least 2 goals and an assist.

    Still has a lot of potential imo. Of all the young English players in his age bracket at Arsenal, I hope he’s the one we retain and he gets a chance at regular first team football on loan next season.

  5. You would think that if Niles Willock Nelson or Nketia were good enough by now like Saka they would be regular starters. But being good is not enough. They need to be brilliant to play because the manager has to play the big earners to sell merch.
    120 k p/w Kolasinac 100 k p/w Willian 100 k p/w Pepe 200 k p/w Auba and Laca let alone 350k p/w Ozil. Ceballos Odegaard have not come cheap either. Reiss is simply a cheap home grown player like Nketiah Willock Chambers Niles and maybe even Holding. They play weak EL teams,soft cup games or come on in PL games already won or lost. They spend most of their time sending texts on their mobile phones while unused subs.

  6. I do not feel it’s his physique that’s letting him down but his failure to make the correct decisions with his final pass or cross.Like Pepe, he needs to work on retaining possession in tight situations, but there is no doubt that he has the ability to take on defenders at pace which in itself is a big asset.I don’t know if Nelson or Nketiah are in the long term plans of Arteta, but if they are not, perhaps he should use them as a means of securing the services of Bissouma or Trossard of Brighton.In the absence of “readies” this is the type of deal Arsenal should pursue.

    1. you are dead right. decision making and confidence is his big let down. defenders worry less about his penetration

  7. Nelson was emulating Sancjo 2 years ago i’ Germany, gaining lots of experience, insurance, labeled as next youth sensation in Germany.

    Looking and growing great in half season loan. So hot we had to bring him back.

    But we bring Pepe, and bench Nelson all season. Then we bring Willian at same spot.

    Nelson is back to U23 he left 2 years ago with great success and hope in Germany..

    Without multiple injuries, Rowe would be either gone on loan or back at U23.

    In resume; we must keep players on loan so they can fulfill devellopment if they not starting every or other game.

    Or thry are bei’g waisted as Niles, Nketiah, Nelson and Rowe was before injuries force playing him.

    Idea to bring them into first team is to gradually keep them there.

    Im glad he is finally on loan, as Willock playing every week end, growing, being gradually key players in their respective teams. Joe is flying.

    Mav is doing very well too, so does Gendouzi, it is key for them to do so.

    To go to gym wont help him devellop as a player but part of devellopment.

    He must play every week in a league. If in Germany, he would be in a team fighting Europe…

    Why have to stop bring players if we have great potential inhouse.

    Torreira, Luiz, Willian are prime examples, even Pepe, we had Nelson on fire and bringing Gabi.

    Nilles should had been set as he was added to team. Even with injured Partey he did not get to earn spot.

    Luiz plays every games, first choice, then one spot left for Chambers, Gabriel, Holding, Mari to be paired with Luiz….

    We saw promising pairing Holding Gabriel or Mari Chambers is a top CB now, grown, experimented.

    Once Reds Juve or another team snatches him; he will take that spot with both hands…

  8. Essentially an intelligent article, save for the shocking comment about”Nketiah is quite muscular” when the fact is he is far too skinny, as is Nelson and BOTH of them are too easily knocked off the ball. The last truly skinny midfielder who was a proper great at our club was GEORGE EASTHAM, BACK IN THE EARLY 1960’S.

    Those who have read my many posts over the years where I laud the effectiveness of proper physical power and real muscularity, will surely agree that skinny Eddie AND skinny Reiss BOTH badly and quickly need to add many pounds of muscle to their frames.

    IN OUR HIGHLY PHYSICAL PREM, real power makes a massive difference. We are not talking Arnold Schwarzenegger here, just a normal toned but powerful PROPER footballers body,

      1. Great example Sue P!


      1. He was certainly wiry but also strong and was not constantly knocked over like Nketiah and Nelson, as we BOTH remember Phil. But as we know he had many gifts quite apart from most other players then and since. He also worked hard, if you know what I’m suggesting!

  9. You know I say my words jokingly, but….

    This is the only young player from our academy who I strongly believe has EXCEPTIONAL TALENT.

    If we lose him, it will be GNABRY saga allover again.

    All these others; Saka, Martinelli, Willock, Maitland-Niles etc it’s just smoke and hype. Sooner people will realize they’re very inconsistent.

    For Smith Rowe, he does have that sharp thinking (ability to do things fast) but is strongly let down by his limited talent, just like Ramsey was.

  10. To be fair, Nelson with the odd glimpse simply hasn’t had any opportunities this season. Similarly last season, he was occasionally brought on in games in games that were already lost. He actually showed some good touches often beating his man but then let down by his final touch. He definitely needs to go to passing school however I agree with Durant that others have undeservedly been given better opportunities ahead of him. As things stand I think it will be difficult for Nelson to get into Arteta’s good books. He would do better at a clubs, like Leeds, Leicester or even Watford which promote player development and may be more suited to his playing style.

    1. You guys make lots of excuses for this guy. He was given these opportunities before Saka and ESR. They both grab thiers with both hands but Nelson haven’t. It could be a case of him been a late broomer but as opportunities, he’s had more than enough. Martinelli was brought to play with the under 21 but because he perform so well, he was promoted immediately. ESR got one game against Chelsea and never looked back. Nelson has played more than 20 games between last season and this but he’s not done anything in those games to be ahead of anyone. He should go out on loan or get sold like Iwobi.

  11. Arteta doesn’t have the knowledge to polish rough germs. He’d rather sell them rough and lose more. There’s a possibility that we might lose Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Martinelli, Seliba, Willock, and Gouendouzi. Arteta cannot see any potential in these youngsters. Arteta has brought more damage to Arsenal

  12. Have Arteta not said that he’ll would give every Arsenal player the chance to play to show him the quality he has in himself, which will convince him or not if he’s ready to play for the club at the top level of the game?

    And I think Arteta has given every Arsenal player who he inherited including Nelson the opportunity to play to show him if he’s ready to play for Arsenal at the top level.

    But only less than a handful of the young players at the club have grabbed this opportunity that he has given them with both hands to show that they are ready to play for the club at the top level. And with some of them showing more readiness than their mates to command playing regularly for the club this season.

    Arteta is employed to win games/trophies/titles for Arsenal. And these he has to win for the club. He can not allow himself to be bugged down with the Arsenal youth players development who aren’t ready to compete successfully at the top level for the club to be using the time he should be devoting to win matches for the club on developing the youth players at the club to no immediate result before they come good.

    Time is said waits for no man. You either follow it to pursue what you want to get and have. Or it’ll leave you behind. In this wise, I am offering Nelson my advice to revamp his football career at Arsenal by taking to the advice and suggestions that the football sense Agboola Israeli has offered to him. For, they could help him if he takes them.

  13. Nelson right now is going to the humongous list of talented players who didn’t have the right mentality to become a great arsenal player. He looks too scared/shy to actually take a chance to do something with the ball when he plays for the 1st team.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs