When a player has been out injured for a while, it’s understandable if their first game back is one which is more about fitness than productivity.
Sometimes though, a player hits the ground running after an absence, and that was the case with Reiss Nelson in last night’s 2-0 win over Portsmouth in the FA Cup.
The 20 year old created the first goal for Sokratis, and the second for Eddie Nketiah, as well as providing an excellent chance for Gabriel Martinelli which the Brazilian couldn’t quite get his head over.
It was a performance which impressed the Portsmouth players who, according to BT Sport, were talking about him on the sidelines as a difficult opponent. It also impressed boss Mikel Arteta who talked up Nelson’s qualities afterwards.
“We have pace in a few of our players up front,” said the boss.
“Reiss is a special talent, he can eliminate players one v one. Every time he gets into these situations in the final third, he’s a threat.
“He’s been out for two months, but we’ve got him back now, and that’s what he’s capable of doing.”
Arteta rang the changes last night after defeat to Olympiacos last week, but had faith in his young players to deliver.
“I assessed the team and physically some of them were knackered,” he said.
“Aome of them had issues, some of them mentally were hanging on what happened that day so I tried to pick the right team knowing how they were and I made the most of it.
“If you win, it is okay but if we had lost obviously it would have been the wrong decision.”