Author Archives: keenosafc

The England youth international striker set to save Arsenal £20million

You do not always have to sign players to strengthen your squad.

A current players development can see him go from talented youth player to first team regular in the matter of months.

Even if they do not kick on to be a first team regular, they can still become an important first team squad member.

We have seen that with Bukayo Saka.

This time last year he was an U23 player. Fans were talking about our lack of left wing options and the likes of Ousmane Dembélé, Justin Kluivert and Malcolm. All of these players would have cost £30million+.

Instead of making a big money move, Arsenal promoted and developed Bukayo Saka. He became that extra option on the left wing and is now a £30million+ player.

Saka is an example of why looking at what a club spends on new signings is not a good method to compare squad improvements.

Barcelona spent £0 on Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Ineista and Sergio Busquets. They dominated Europe.

With Mikel Arteta preferring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left wing, and Gabriel Martinelli injured until Christmas, Arsenal were left with one senior striker in Alexandre Lacazette.

Heavily linked with Odsonne Edouard in a deal which would have been worth close to £30million, Edu and Arteta decided to go down another route.

Instead of signing for Celtic’s French U21 international, the club opted to go for an English U21 international. Arsenal were rewarded when the youngster came off the bench to score the winner against West Ham United.

How excited would we all be if this summer, Arsenal spent £20million on England’s first choice U21 striker? Someone who had scored 7 goals in his last 3 England U21 appearances, including 2 hat tricks. And then he came off the bench against West Ham to score the winner.

And then a few days later he scored again in his first start of the season.

We would all be sitting here this saying “great signing”, excited about how we have one of England’s best young strikers, who is ready to push for the first team.

But because he came through the youth team, the hype is not quite there.

Eddie Nketiah has been patient during his time at Arsenal.

A prolific goal scorer at youth levels, he scored 15 goals in 16 appearances for the U18s and a further 12 goals in 26 games for the U23s. He was just 17 at the time.

The next season (2017/18) he got a handfall of appearances in the Europa League and League Cup.

Against Norwich in the League Cup, he came on as an 85th minute substitute, nabbing an equaliser for Arsenal just 15 seconds after coming on with his first touch, before hitting the winner in extra time.

2018/19 was a tough one for the young striker as he missed out on a loan to the Bundesliga due to injury to senior Arsenal players. Missing out on this game time set him back in his development. Although he did score his first Premier League goal on the last day of the season.

In the summer of 2019, he got his loan deal, joining Championship side Leeds.

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa described Nketiah upon signing as a “young, important player in English football”.

Despite Bielsa also describing Nketiah as a “complete player”, he continued to pick Patrick Bamford ahead of Nketiah. Opting for a work horse striker rather than a goal scorer. Nketiah returned to Arsenal in January 2020, his loan deal cancelled.

This season, with Martinelli out injured, Nketiah has stepped up to be Lacazette’s understudy.

Arsenal have backed Nketiah throughout his career.

In 2018, Arsenal had 2 England you internationals. Nketiah and Stephy Mavididi. It was Mavididi who was released, joining Juventus. He is now at Montpellier.

This summer Arsenal had a similar decision to make.

19-year-old Florian Balogun was itching for game time. Demanding it. Refusing to sign a new contract unless he had guarantees of being in Arsenal’s first team squad. Minutes in the League Cup and Europa League.

The problem for Balogun is he had Nketiah ahead of him.

Nketiah has done everything that Balogun has achieved in the youth team, has taken his loan deal and now deserves his chance in Arsenal’s first team set-up. Nketiah is a better player than Balogun.

Moving Balogun ahead of Nketiah in the pecking order just so that he signed a new contract made no sense. Nketiah deserves his chance in Arsenal’s first team squad. Balogun doesn’t.

Ideally, Arsenal would want to keep Balogun. Send him on loan, and then depending on his and Nketiah’s performances this season, make a decision on the 2 in 2021. Balogun does not want to wait 12 months for his chance. He wants it now. And Arsenal can not give it to him.

Instead Arsenal are giving the chance to Nketiah, and it is now up to him to take it.

He took his chance against West Ham, scoring the winner. For Arsenal, he is like a new signing.

Had Arsenal signed an England U21 international with back to back hatricks at that level for £20million, and he scored a winner on his 2nd appearance of the season, we would all be shouting “what a signing”.

Instead people are still moaning that we have not improved the squad. Not made enough new signings.

Arsenal have added a £20million to the squad. Just like in Saka and Martinelli.

The 3 of them would cost Arsenal £70million if they were signed today. Instead they cost £7million.

Back the youngsters, back Nketiah, back Arsenal.


Match Report: Leicester City 0 – 2 Arsenal

Leicester City (0) 0 Arsenal (0) 2

Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) Third Round

King Power Stadium, Filbert Way, Leicester LE2 7FL

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020. Kick-off time: 7.45pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Rob Holding, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock; Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pépé, Eddie Nketiah; Reiss Nelson.

Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, William Saliba, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Willian Borges da Silva, Alex Rúnarsson, Granit Xhaka.

Scorers: Fuchs o.g. (57 mins), Eddie Nketiah (90 mins)

Yellow Cards: Mohamed Elneny

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 51%

Referee: Peter Bankes

Assistant Referees: Peter Kirkup, James Mainwaring

Fourth Official: Andre Marriner

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

And so our Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) campaign for 2020-21 begins, this year with a third round tie at the King Power stadium, home of Leicester City. With the usual changes expected of a Premiership club for this competition (seven players, actually), the most interesting addition to the substitutes’ bench is our new goalkeeper, 25-year-old Icelandic international, Alex Rúnarsson, who has recently signed for us from French club Dijon on a four-year contract for around £1,800,000. Also good to see David Luiz, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah getting a start tonight; let’s see what the boys can do on this dark, wet, late September evening in Leicestershire. Let’s go!

The first part of the evening saw us take the match to Leicester, although the home side did surprise us several times with some good, quick moves. David Luiz helped break up one or two dangerous moves from the Foxes, but generally, we appeared to be in control with very little action in our half. Bukayo Saka was doing some sterling work, distributing clever balls across the box, and it was one of these that we nearly capitalised on and scored after just twenty minutes. Eddie Nketiah found himself on a one-to-one situation with the Leicester goalkeeper shortly afterwards, but sadly the ball was smothered at his feet. Just before the half-hour mark, Bukayo Saka was blatantly brought down in the box, but despite our lively appeals, the referee refused to award a penalty-kick for us. We then had a period where Nicolas Pépé fired over two corners in quick succession, but our efforts came to nothing as Reiss Nelson shot wide from close range. Bernd Leno and David Luiz collided badly, and in doing so, our defender came off the worst, and had to seek medical treatment. We were fortunate not to be one down, when minutes later, a deceptive chip by James Maddison bounced off our crossbar with Bernd Leno stranded and off his line. This led to a Leicester City resurgence, with Arthur Albrighton firing in some dangerous crosses that put our defence under pressure in the minutes just before the break, which thankfully came after two minutes injury time.

Surprisingly, Mikel Arteta made no changes at half-time, especially as the second half started in the same manner as the first ended, with the home side in the ascendancy. James Maddison was causing us issues, whilst their defenders were mopping up loose balls at the back with ease. A minute or so later, David Luiz played an inch-perfect pass through the Leicester defence that saw Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nicolas Pépé combining well on the right, but sadly Nicolas Pépé’s cross went badly wrong and sailed over the crossbar. A few minutes later, Nicolas Pépé took the ball to the byline, and his cross bounced off two Leicester defenders like a pinball, and it finally cannoned off Christian Fuchs into his own net to give us the lead. We felt the advantage now, and started to pass the ball confidently in the Foxes’ half. Reiss Nelson was substituted for Willian after seventy minutes, and a couple of minutes later, Eddie Nketiah chipped the Leicester goalkeeper, only for Wes Wilson to head it off the line. Dani Ceballos replaced Joe Willock with twelve minutes of the match remaining, and despite Leicester making some clever chances, our defence held firm. With three minutes remaining, Bukayo Saka was replaced by Hector Bellerin just to shore things up at the back, and despite the home side making some interesting moves, Eddie Nketiah grabbed the winner on the ninetieth minute with a shot from close range after some messy, clumsy defending by the home side.

Fourth round here we come, and either Lincoln City or Liverpool lay in wait for us next week. Overall, although this will not be remembered as a classic match, it was certainly one that saw us show just how good our squad is, and how damn tough we are to beat on our day. The way we refused to cave in to Leicester City’s pressure and how we were relentless in our desire to win the match was a sight to behold, and if we carry on in this manner, Mikel Arteta’s version of Arsenal will certainly take some beating.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Liverpool at Anfield on Monday, 28th September at 8.00pm (Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon

Arsenal set for 9 changes as Arteta shuffles his pack

Tonight Arsenal travel to Leicester in the League cup.

With games coming thick and fast, it will give Mikel Arteta a chance to “shuffle the pack” and give game time to his fringe squad players.

In the past the League Cup has been used to give youngsters a run out. But with Arsenal having such a young squad, many of the youngsters involved tonight will already be household names.

Goalkeeper will be a bit of a headache for Arteta.

With Emi Martinez gone, does he put in Matt Macey, who might also be leaving, or go for Dijan Iliev – who will surely replace Macey as 3rd choice keeper.

I actually think he will stick with Bernd Leno and we will see the club move away from having a “cup keeper” – although we might see Runar Runarsson in goal for League Cup games.

Cedric Soares will get a run out at right back, whilst Saed Kolasinac will be the only outfield player from Saturday’s game starting XI against West Ham to also play tonight. Kieran Tierney give the week off to fully recover from his hip injury.

Between them will be David Luiz and William Saliba.

Luiz is returning from a short injury and getting him match sharp makes sense prior to Liverpool next Monday.

Arteta has spoken about slowly integrating Saliba into the first team.

He is young and has not played a competitive game since March. Arteta clearly feels he needs games at a lower intensity before he is ready for Premier League football.

After playing in the U23s last week, a League Cup game is the next step up.

As you can tell by now, I think Arteta will switch from 343 to 433 tonight.

The midfield 3 will contain Joe Willock, Mo Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

All 3 have a role to play this season as squad players, and with Matteo Guendouzi still being re-integrated into the first team squad, they will make up a high energy midfield.

Expect Elneny to remain dairy central and disciplined, giving Willock and AMN the freedom to use their athleticism and get forward.

The front 3 writes itself.

Nicolas Pepe has found himself on the bench behind Willian in the first 2 Premier League games of the season. He will shine this season and tonight will hopefully see him push to start against Liverpool.

Eddie Nketiah replaces Alex Lacazette up top.

On the back of his winner against West Ham and his gol scoring exploits for England U21s, it’ll be good for him to get a 90 minute run out.

Out of position on the left will be Reiss Nelson.

It feels like the young Englishman is at a cross roads in his career, as Arsenal have spent big on Pepe and also signed Willian on the right hand side.

Nelson has also not put in the headline grabbing performances of Bukayo Saka on the left.

But it is easy to forget Nelson is just 20-years-old. He has time on his side to continue developing and good performances in the League Cup and Europa League will be key for his development.

I’d imagine Nelson will swap wings with Pepe throughout the game.

Predicted line up: