Unai Emery made a mistake by loaning Reiss Nelson out to Hoffenheim
Unai Emery's first six months as Arsenal's head coach have been better than expected. The Spaniard has still kept Arsenal very much in contention to finish in the top four and has lost only five matches in all competitions this season. The former PSG manager still has a lot of work to do to make Arsenal title contenders but for his first season in the Premier League, he has done a decent job.
Arsenal were never going to reach the levels of Manchester City and Liverpool in just one season. Emery will need at least another 2 to 3 transfer windows to build Arsenal the way he wants to and he has already started doing so by signing the likes of Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Sokratis.
While Arsenal have been very effective going forward, their defensive issues have still not been resolved and signing a defender either this month or at the end of this season should be a priority for the Gunners.
This season, apart from their defensive issues Arsenal have also been suffering from a lack of wingers. If we take a look at the Arsenal squad this season, the Gunners have only one player in Alex Iwobi who is an out an out winger. The Nigerian has improved leaps and bounds under Emery, but being the only winger must be putting a lot of pressure on him to perform.
Emery has had to rely on the likes of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and most recently Ainsley Maitland-Niles to play as wingers.
To make matters worse, from the above-mentioned players, Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Welbeck are injured, leaving Arsenal short on players in general and on players who can play on the wing as well.
And for this reason in particular, I feel Unai Emery made a huge mistake in loaning Reiss Nelson to Hoffenheim. Maitland-Niles, who is a very versatile player, has been impressive in the few times he has played as a winger this season. But it is still concerning that Arsenal have only one winger in their squad and have had to rely on makeshift players to fill that position this season.
Ozil and Mkhitaryan, who have been heavily criticized for their performances this season, have been, in my opinion, unfairly targetted because they have been playing out of position every time.
While Emery might have not felt the effects of not having additional wingers in the team early on in the season, he is now.
I understand why Emery decided to loan out Nelson. The England U21 international would not have got as much game time at Arsenal this season as he is getting at Hoffenheim, but the pacy winger could have really helped the Gunners at this point in the season.
Nelson won the Premier League 2 Player of the Year award last year and played a total of 16 games for the Arsenal first team last season. I feel Emery should have put a little faith in Nelson and let him stay at Arsenal.
In terms of Nelson progressing and gaining valuable first team experience, loaning him to Hoffenheim does make sense, but it shouldn't come at the cost of Arsenal suffering in that position. He is enjoying a superb season in Germany, having scored six goals and assisting one and also winning the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for October 2018.
Nelson will definitely return to Arsenal a much-improved player next season and will definitely be challenging for a place in the starting 11. But if he feels that he will still not get enough first-team opportunities at Arsenal next season as well, the Gunners could lose yet another young prodigy just like they did with Serge Gnabry in 2016.