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Reiss Nelson Confident of Arsenal Chances Despite Record Nicolas Pepe Signing

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 27, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17: Reiss Nelson of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson has said he thinks this could be his time to emerge in Arsenal's first team despite the club spending a record €80 million (£72 million) on Nicolas Pepe.

Pepe, 24, made his first Arsenal start in Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Liverpool as Nelson dropped to the bench. However, the former Hoffenheim loanee spoke to Arsenal's official website and suggested he was confident of receiving opportunities under manager Unai Emery:

"All the competition that's here, all the new wingers Arsenal have signed ... I think this could be my time. I need to just keep training hard and getting all the information from the coaches and the players. If I do that, I'm going to have a big, big shout this season.
 
"It's about taking those steps, doing the easy thing and getting the basics right first. Once I do that, I think I will get chances. Then it's up to me to perform and do well for the team."

Pepe's place under Emery seems assured given the fee spent, not to mention that he scored 22 goals and recorded 11 assists in 38 Ligue 1 appearances for Lille last season.

The Ivory Coast international made two substitute appearances before being called into the XI at Anfield. Journalist Vaishali Bhardwaj told BBC 5 Live Sport she believed his first start posed good omens for what's to come:

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

'Pepe and Aubameyang look like they work really well together' 🤜🤛 Speaking on #TheSquad, @VaiBhardwaj believes Nicolas Pépé has made a positive start at #AFC What have you made of him so far? Listen to #TheSquad 👇 📲⚽️: https://t.co/pVcqWDwHqr #bbcfootball https://t.co/qgUvOuuZVU

Nelson, 19, made a bright start on loan at Hoffenheim last season, ending his stay with seven goals in 23 appearances. He continued and said he believed Emery was the right manager to promote younger talent in the first team:

"Unai's very positive and always telling you to express yourself, but also he's got that thing where he'll tell you if you do something wrong. I think that's good for a coach to have two sides: the jokey side and the fiery side.
 
"For me, especially, it helps me a lot to continue to improve and keep going. He helps a lot of the young players because there were a lot of them who came on the pre-season tour. He told them to be themselves—if they made a mistake, just carry on. He helps them grow and gives them a great chance."

The Gunners also signed 18-year-old winger Gabriel Martinelli from Brazilian club Ituano this summer, and he came on for a late cameo in their opening 1-0 win over Newcastle United.

Emery has shown early signs he's willing to give youth their chances, per Squawka:

Squawka Football @Squawka

@muhammadbutt Arsenal have used five players under the age of 22 Premier League this season: 🔴 Ainsley Maitland-Niles (21) 🔴 Mattéo Guendouzi (20) 🔴 Joe Willock (20) 🔴 Reiss Nelson (19) 🔴 Gabriel Martinelli (18) Emery will give the kids a chance. https://t.co/wPP7pCioNk

Nelson has previously indicated his desire to feature on a weekly basis for his boyhood club, per reporter Simon Collings:

Simon Collings @sr_collings

Reiss Nelson is ready to stay and fight for his place at Arsenal after the signing of Nicolas Pepe. "The main goal for me has always been playing in an Arsenal shirt week in, week out." #afc https://t.co/Az4oNy5yL5

Alexandre Lacazette started on the bench against Liverpool; one would assume Emery has plans to integrate the Frenchman into a three-pronged attack alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe.

Nelson's starting opportunities seem limited taking that trio into account, though he has time on his hands to wait for the right opening to emerge and grasp the spotlight himself.