Mikel Arteta’s Call
It can only be tactical. When the training pictures are uploaded he’s always involved, while no updates from the club banish doubts that he may not be fit.
Watching him improve physically this season was one of the most reassuring indicators that he was primed for top-flight football. A lot tougher to knock off the ball and quicker off the mark with his pace, a good run of games seemed to be all that was holding him back from usurping one of either Nicolas Pepe or Willian in the starting lineup.
With Willian sitting out the last three matches – the most recent two due to illness – Nelson was in a position to wrestle his way into Mikel Arteta’s thoughts.
How telling, then, that even without the 32-year-old involved Nelson still can’t make a matchday squad – this also being a matchday squad that now has two more players in it than it did but a few weeks ago.
Gabriel Martinelli has immediately assumed Willian’s place in the side now the 19-year-old has returned from injury, leaving Nelson’s road back not just perilous, but gone gone entirely.
For now, at least.
Willian will recover and take the place he looks unlikely to ever relinquish, with it genuinely more likely that Pepe will drop out entirely as opposed to Nelson earning a spot. So, what next?