Tag Archives: eddie nketiah

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.


Arteta rotates The Youth

“Why is he not playing Martinelli” was tweeted countless times on Saturday.

“Saka on the bench, it’s a disgrace” was another.

Following the starting XI announcement, everyone had an opinion on who was playing, who shouldn’t and who was not in the squad. It is only natural.

This then led to the rumour mill kicking off. “Is Arteta teaching Martinelli a lesson”. This all follows up on Matteo Guendouzi being “dropped” following an alleged incident in Dubai.

The truth is, defence aside, Arsenal have very few injury worries.

Prior to Everton, only Kieran Tierney, Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares were on the walking wounded list.

Of the 26 players to have played in the Premier League for Arsenal this season, 21 were fit and ready to go (2 injured, 3 sold or out on loan). With a match day squad of 18, 3 players were always going to miss out.

Games are coming thick and fast at the moment. We are playing twice a week for the forceable (although we have the weekend off with no game v Man City – although we then play Portsmouth in the FA Cup on Monday).

Arteta needs to rest and rotate. To keep players fresh. To keep them injury free.

Take Bukayo Saka.

Saka is an 18-year-old kid in his first full season of mens football. He had started 6 games in a row for Arteta. It has pretty much been a game every 3 or 4 days for him, winter break aside.

Before Everton, he had played Sunday & Thursday. 90 minutes against both Newcastle and Olympiakos. It was only natural that with Saed Kolasinac returning, Arteta would take the opportunity to Saka a break.

Think of the challenge that injured Kolasinac. Had that happened to Saka, and he be out for the season, many of those moaning that he did not start would then moan that he was being over played.

Arsenal have a lot of very talented youngsters. They can not all play at once. They can not all be in the squad at once.

Up front is a perfect example of this.

We have senior players in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. These are backed up by Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah.

That is 7 attacking players, all of whom were fit against Everton.

With 3 starting, it would be ludicrous to have 4 on the bench. By the time you pick a goal keeper that leaves just 2 places on the bench left for defenders and central midfielders.

Most teams usually go with 2-2-2 on the bench.

Two defenders (one central, one full back). 2 central midfielders, and two attacking players.

Once Arteta had gone with Nketiah upfront, Lacazette was always going to be on the bench. This left space for one more attacking player on the bench.

With Saka in the squad as left back and left winger, it was a straight choice between Martinelli and Nelson.

On this occasion Arteta went for Nelson.

And you can fully understand the Spaniards thinking by picking Nelson.

Nelson provides something that no one else does. He is a right footed winger who gets chalk on his boots.

Martinelli, meanwhile, creates little and is better suited down the middle. In Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arteta had two other striking options in his squad alongside Nketiah. Nelson simply gives more balance to the match day squad.

Also missing out were Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock, and again it is completely understandable.

The defensive options on the bench against Everton were Sokratis and Saka.

If Bellerin went down injured, Mustafi would shift to right back, and Sokratis would come into the middle (or vice versa). And if Kolasinac got injured, Saka would come on.

That left no space for Maitland-Niles as a defensive option.

Moving into midfield, Arteta went for Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi on the bench. His more senior pair.

Had he gone for Willock or Maitland-Niles, we would have had the same stories as post-Dubai. That Guendouzi had been dropped for attitude problems.

Instead it is Maitland-Niles not in the squad, and rumours circulating about Arteta being unhappy with attitude.

Willock also lost out, with Dani Ceballos starting for his 2nd Premier League game in a row.

Whenever a player is left out, stories will circulate as to why. Usually the simplest answer the truest. That the manager is simply rotating and resting.

Expect more changes for Thursday against Olympiakos, and more again for the FA Cup game against Portsmouth.


Nketiah staying, no one joining, all very quiet

Social media really does have a habit of making stories out of something that is not.

Yesterday a gutter journalist tweeted that Arsenal had announced they would be holding a press conference at 2:30, and commentated that this was odd as pre-game press conferences take place on Thursday’s, not Wednesday’s.

What was happening? People enquired? Who are we signing? Maybe Mikel Arteta is being sacked already? The rumour mill was spinning.

An hour or so later, a second journalist tweeted his dismay as the press conference had actually been scheduled for Wednesday since the start of the week and every journalist would have already known about it

The whole situation just highlights how people can manipulate a situation for attention.

Not much was said during the pre-game press conference. An update on injuries, Saed Kolasinac & Lucas Torreira both being assessed, Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney still out.

There was a little chat about transfers. I have bad news for you guys, I have nothing to say yet! Arteta answered. Can we look to much into the word “yet” at the end? Probably.

John Stones and Franck Kessie were ruled out, although in response to the later Arteta uttered No truth at all at the moment. Like saying “yet” I am sure some will read a lot into this. And that was about that.

Bigger transfer news broke this morning. And in terms of it being big, it is when you consider we have had nothing yet in January.

Eddie Nketiah is staying at the club until the end of the season.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – JULY 27: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on July 27, 2019 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Talk is that this is due to Pierre Emerick-Aubameyan’s red card, but with 2 games still to play in January we could have easily have kept Eddie till the end of the month. I wonder if the feeling at the club is that it is pointless him going to a Championship side and sitting on the bench again. He might as well be training with Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

There are some that are using Nketiah staying as evidence that Lacazette could be off in January. I can not see it happening, but can see a case where the Frenchman leaves us in the summer.

My feeling is that we will not sign anyone in January, and I have no issue with that. There is no point spending big on a short term option.

It is crazy that some people still try to make a living off transfer speculation when nothing is clearly happening!

Sheffield United this weekend. I still have dreams of finishing top 4.