Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson has been feeding off scraps so far this season, with manager Mikel Arteta handing him just over half an hour of first-team action. The 23-year-old could be rewarded for his patience against Tottenham, however, with an injury blow presenting a possible opportunity to make a splash from the bench.
Gabriel Martinelli was forced off against Everton last weekend, and the knock he picked up not only kept him out of the Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven in midweek, but also prevented him from taking part in team training on Friday.
The north London derby is surely set to come too soon for the jet-heeled Brazilian, who had been a mainstay in Arteta’s XI over the first few weeks of the season. Even with Martinelli out, Nelson will not expect to be promoted straight to the starting line-up.
The chances of right-winger Bukayo Saka missing out are close to zero, with the fan favourite poised to feature in his 86th consecutive Premier League match against Spurs – a club record.
On the opposite flank, Leandro Trossard has done a stellar job while deputising for Martinelli by scoring in successive games. And Nelson is nowhere near the conversation to feature up top, where Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus are already battling it out for minutes.
It’ll therefore have to be a cameo from the bench for Nelson, but there is every chance he is given a shot to impress. Martinelli’s prolonged absence means that he and Emile Smith Rowe are Arteta’s only wide options to call on if the game doesn’t go to plan.
Both players came on during the win over PSV, and it was Nelson who grabbed the assist when captain Martin Odegaard wrapped up the scoring. That was the youngster’s first goal contribution of the campaign, but he has only been given 33 minutes of first-team action, and only one of those minutes came in the Premier League.
Nelson, who has spent time on loan at Hoffenheim and Feyenoord, is therefore on the up. And Arteta should have no issues with making him a prominent option from the bench against Spurs, given his previous comments on the former England U21 star.
“I always saw the potential,” said the Arsenal boss after Nelson’s stunning winner against Bournemouth last season. “The talent and the desire for him to do it, he’s at a different level right now. I think emotionally, the experiences that he had helped him.”
The London-born winger certainly won’t be the primary threat Tottenham spend most of their time preparing for, but the Gunners’ current circumstances mean he should get an opportunity to take them by surprise at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.