Scoring a late goal is undoubtedly a great feeling for any player, but Gedion Zelalem must have been especially ecstatic when he achieved that feat for Arsenal U23s against Brighton & Hove Albion this week.
The midfielder applied the finishing touch to a neat team move as the young Gunners came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw, with Zelalem scoring just his second ever goal at this level.
Given the difficulties which he has endured through injury, which saw him miss the entirety of last season and the beginning of the current campaign, Zelalem was due some good fortune, and it arrived when he was on hand to steer the ball into the back of the net.
In truth, Zelalem’s performances since returning to action haven’t been of a particularly high standard, although he should certainly be given time to find his feet again after such a lengthy absence.
Now much stronger physically than he was previously, Zelalem’s eye for a precise through ball remains intact, but he isn’t quite as nimble as he was before.
As he continues to build up his match fitness, that should well improve, and Zelalem will take much confidence from his goal against Brighton.
The midfielder will aim to continue to feature regularly for the U23s in the remainder of the campaign, although the likelihood is that this could be his final season as an Arsenal player.
Zelalem is out of contract in the summer and the fact that he hasn’t been involved in many first-team training sessions since returning from injury indicates that getting back into the senior set-up may well prove to be an insurmountable task.
Still, it is a positive simply to see Zelalem playing again, and he will now be aiming to push on further as he seeks to impress all onlookers – whether they are members of the Arsenal coaching staff or scouts from other clubs.