Mikel Arteta insists he is ‘so happy’ for Reiss Nelson after he helped smash Nottingham Forest and has revealed the ‘real change’ he has seen in the Gunners academy graduate.
Nelson, 22, scored twice in Arsenal’s 5-0 Premier League victory over Forest at the Emirates Stadium, with Gabriel Martinelli, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard contributing the other goals.
Former England U21 star Nelson has been at Arsenal since the age of eight but has barely featured for the Gunners since he made 22 appearances during the 2019-20 season.
He was handed a chance on Sunday after being subbed on for the injured Bukayo Saka, however, and grasped the opportunity with both hands to score his first Arsenal goal since November 2020.
Arteta said Nelson did ‘extremely well’ after replacing Saka and insists he has seen a noticeable change in the winger on and off the pitch.
‘I think not only me but all his team-mates, all the staff are so happy for him because he is a kid that is really changing, really evolving, really maturing,’ Arteta said.
‘He’s showing every day how much he wants it and today he had the opportunity, and he did extremely well because it helped us win the game.’
Asked to elaborate on his belief that Nelson is ‘changing’ and ‘evolving’, Arteta added: ‘How mature he is, how focused he is in his profession.
‘The way he talks, the way he reflects, the way he respects decisions, the way he is challenging everybody every single day.
‘He is a joy of a kid. We all want him to be successful and do well. What he has done today for the team is something he really merits.’
Following a sensational start to the season, Arsenal suffered a slight wobble over the past week, dropping points at struggling Southampton and then losing to PSV in the Europa League in midweek.
On his team’s emphatic response against Nottingham Forest, Arteta added: ‘Big teams have to respond as quick as possible and we did that after the disappointment of Thursday night.
‘One half training session and be ready not only physically but mentally again to another demand against a team that beat Liverpool and the pressure is on, you lose the first place and you are there. And we need to get used to that.’
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