The Gunners were pushed hard as they won their second Premier League 2 game of the season in an action-packed game.
While Nketiah is still a step below the first team, Nelson travelled with the main squad for the pre-season tour and has impressed this summer. But is he ready to start on Sunday at Anfield?
Nelson has done all he can to impress Arsene Wenger at this level and he now has four goals from two games for the U23s this season. It’s hard to argue with that kind of return and you feel that he needs to make the next step for his development now.
With the U23s adopting the same formation as the first team, Nelson played in an advanced role off the striker with Donyell Malen on the other side of the formation.
The one negative from Nelson’s performance on Monday night was his propensity to drift wider than he needed to be at times. With Josh da Silva bombarding up and down the left wing from the winback position, Nelson did not need to take a spot on the wing but occupy one of the No.10 roles.
But this was largely a problem early in the game, he found his feet and drifted more centrally as the match dragged on.
It was Nelson who broke the deadlock as he finished off a neat move for the home side, powering in off the left and smashing home after a quick one-two with Da Silva.
Just ten minutes into the game, it was the spark the Gunners needed to take control of the contest for the rest of the half as they managed to take a 3-1 lead into the break thanks to Nketiah’s double.
But Nelson’s goal was the pick of the bunch, as he turned a series of safe, deep passes into something much more.
The 17-year-old was the inspiration for Arsenal in the second half too, as he bagged his second to give the home side a 4-1 lead. Once again he connected with Da Silva to break down the City defence.
This is why it is so important for Nelson to take up the central position in this formation. By allowing Da Silva to do the dirty work on the wings, he frees himself up to take the ball on in more dangerous positions.
As Da Silva cut the ball back, Nelson flawlessly shifted his body weight to one side, leaving his marker for dead and giving him a clear sight on goal. From there, it was easy for Nelson to smash the ball into the back of the net.
It seemed for a time that Nelson was going to fade off following Wilshere’s red card but he found a second wind in the final 10 minutes.
As Man City pulled back two goals to make it 4-3, Nelson was Arsenal’s most creative force in trying to re-establish a comfortable lead. Although it was not needed in the end, it was clear that Nelson felt comfortable taking the responsibility on his own shoulders.
But is he ready to start against Liverpool on Sunday? On the evidence of this game, he can’t really have done anything more to convince Wenger. But Anfield is not a forgiving place.
It has probably come too soon for him and with Alexis Sanchez potentially returning from injury at the weekend, it would be a surprise to see Nelson given the nod.
At just 17 years of age, the fact that we are even discussing this as a possibility is a credit to his development. But Wenger would be right to remain cautious with Nelson.
He is coming through at a position where Arsenal are already well stocked and although Nelson probably needs first team football quite soon in order to continue his development, he is unlikely to get too much of it at Arsenal in his preferred position.