With Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the campaign continuing on Wednesday I have been asked to pen a few thoughts for the Fan Column on, man of the hour, Eddie Nketiah. Of course, he has been the talk of Arsenal social media for his goal bit also his apparent disillusionment at Pepe for not squaring earlier, in the build to the opener at the KP.
Eddie has not only been scoring for the Arsenal, his plethora of England U21 goals have taken him within 2 of the great Alan Shearer’s record at that level. Such feats will obviously lead to fans, and not just Gunners, pondering just how good young Nketiah can be.
I have my own thoughts which I will endeavour to articulate but I thought it might be informative to ask the Arsenal fanbase their views, in preparation for this piece. The results were fascinating and the fact that over 4850 fans voted in a Twitter poll, tells me that this is a player we are vested in. The outcome confirms this because of the three options only 11% felt the Eddie was a stop gap at best. 26% held the few that he would be Arsenal’s main striker in the future and 63%, by far the majority believe that he is the perfect squad rotation option for Arteta.
Quick views for an article please
— Dave Seager (@goonerdave66) September 24, 2020
In short, 74% see Eddie Nketiah having a main or important role to play for Arsenal. At present his coach seems to have a plan for the player and until such time as Martinelli is fit, or even if we buy a further striker, that plan is working for him and the team. In the Premier League, Nketiah is coming on for Lacazette for the last quarter of the match, once his senior partner has worked the defenders so hard, they are tired, and their concentration might be below par. This allows a fresh livewire goal scorer like Eddie to punish teams in the final 20, as we saw against West Ham. In the Carabao and I suspect the Europa League Nketiah will lead the line.
The young England star, is focal and demanding on the pitch, attributes that have earned him the armband from Boothroyd for England, but I suspect at only just 21, he is humbler and patient away from it. Eddie has time on his side, knows he has Arteta’s faith, will get considerable game time and surely must realise in Aubameyang and Lacazette he has tow incredible role models to learn from every day of his working life
In truth, I believe that for Eddie Nketiah to be the main striker for Arsenal the team would need to adopt a different playing style, not inconceivable, or he will have to improve his upper body strength, his hold up and link play. These aspects are strengths for Lacazette and are why he is trusted in the current system, but we all know Arteta wants further creativity in his midfield and should that arrive his set up might adapt.
Nketiah’s assets are his movement in the penalty box, his striker’s instinct to find space and undoubtedly his coolness in front of goal. In fact, I would probably go as far as to say that in these aspects he is a top 5 Premier League striker but in a sole striker system that is not enough. The fox in the box style striker that he undoubtedly is, will shine in a two-striker system, big man, little man. However, it can work, as it does for him within the England set up, in a 433, when there are two natural wingers who will beat their fullback and cut the ball back or cross low and hard inside the 6 yard box. Oddly for England both Saka and Nelson played wide of Eddie at various points in recent wins, perhaps a nod to the future?
The Arsenal reality at present is that our main man Aubameyang is on the left, so in the short term Nketiah will not get that type of service from that flank. He would need Pepe on the left beating his man and crossing with his natural foot, rather than cutting back on to his left from the right as he does now. He really needs the Man City style of wing service enjoyed by Aguero and Jesus and whilst we have the players in Pepe, Saka and Nelson capable of offering this service, it will not occur as we justifiably and logically build the team around Auba.
Therefore, our young homegrown English Lion will have to bide his time and see how the situation evolves, content that his manager has his back and that he will play a vital role for Arsenal this season, in all competitions. I hope he is happy with his Premier League super-sub role as we all know how many great players have been vital to their clubs performing off the bench. I predicted a while back that he will score more than 15 goals for the first team this season and I happily stand by that contention.
This article is my original version I sent to The Sun for my weekly column.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.