It has been a while since Arsenal have completed the signing of experienced Brazilian winger Willan on a free after his contract has expired with London rivals, Chelsea.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has analyzed his squad and has noted the issue of lacking creativity and has addressed it with a signing of a premier league proven player who specializes in the aspect which Arsenal are most craving for, chance creation.
Right-wing is the position which is favored by the Brazilian winger, but it is a known fact that Arsenal have already got multiple players in the same position, even before the addition of Willian in the form of record signing Nicolas Pepe and a promising Reiss Nelson.
This is a pretty delicate situation for the manager to handle upon at the current moment. With the team currently being stocked heavily in a particular position, how can one manage to give the players the minutes they want? Let’s take a deeper look into this situation, focusing on the possible impact following the arrival of Willian.
It is safe to say that Willian had an excellent debut for the Gunners against Fulham, providing 2 assists and also being a part of the opener as well. Arsenal fans were quick to notice his easy adaptation to the club, his impeccable work rate both on and off the ball, and also a telepathic connection with his wing-back Hector Bellerin, which looked like they both have been playing together for years.
You voted him as your man of the match in today’s game…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 12, 2020
Completing 5 ball recoveries, creating 3 big chances which resulted in 2 of them being goal involvements, it is exactly a type of player Arteta was screaming for. His experience in English football could prove vital for his fellow wingers to gain knowledge from.
Nicolas Pepe has not had the best of starts in his life in English football, but a return of 18 g/a is not bad for a player, considering the fact that the team has endured their worst ever season in 2 decades, having to play below 3 different managers in the span of a year. After a whole season of premier league experience under his belt, along with the guidance of winger Willian, Pepe is considered to be a force to be reckoned with in the current season. His adaptation to the Premier League was not easy, considering the difference in roles he played in Lille and Arsenal.
Pepe was more of a right-forward in Lille and would often run towards the goal and whip up a strike with his left foot whilst exploiting his one-one dribbling skills to easily get past players. He did not play a direct role in Arsenal and was also expected to track back and defend whilst not in possession, which he has improved under Arteta and still has more room to improve on.
Arteta believes that competition is the fuel to make a good player be a world-class player provided the potential is present. This is exactly why the signing of Willian makes sense for Arsenal, which would only make Pepe a better player than he ever was before. He is very unlikely to be sold this season, just after arriving after a record transfer fee, which keeps him in the club at least for this season and also creating an interesting situation for the next winger we are about to have a look about, Reiss Nelson.
After a mixed loan spell in German club Hoffenheim, Reiss Nelson was determined to fight for first-team football for the gunners in the 2019-20 season. But the likes of Nicolas Pepe and academy graduate Bukayo Saka getting to play in the right-wing ahead of him on a few occasions, Reiss was deprived of his minutes in the first team, having to make only 7 starts in the whole season and a handful of substitute appearances.
Capable of playing on either wing and also as a number 10, and also being a home-grown player, Arteta surely has a headache about the England Under-21 International and his plans to use Reiss in the squad. There exists no concrete news of Reiss leaving the club even for a temporary basis, which would only conclude that he’s still a part of Arteta’s plans and would at least feature in the cup games.
Reiss Nelson would have to work harder than ever to compete against the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Willian, and also Bukayo Saka to be in contention for the first-team spot, which would only make him a better player. He is present to be a depth option for the Gunners ahead of a potentially long and tiring season where the Gunners would expect to fight until the end for a champions league position and also to win the Europa League. This could be the do or die season for Reiss Nelson which could potentially decide his Arsenal future.
Mikel Arteta cannot afford to lose his talented winger ahead of the long season with matches being more frequent than ever and highly expects all his right-wingers to play a crucial role this season. This could potentially result in any one of these players to get upset and drop their head off, which the Gunner’s faithful would dread off, but could also result in a fruitful output of having 3 world-class wingers under him, due to the spirit of competition amongst them. Trust the process, Gooners!