Tag Archives: eddie nketiah

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.


Has Gabriel Martinelli ended Eddie Nketiah’s career at Arsenal

When Arsenal agreed the deal to take then 17-year-old Gabriel Martinelli, I was concerned that it would send a negative message it would send to the academy.

The worry was that we had a lot of good young attacking talent in our academy and U23s. From Eddie Nketiah, Tyreece John-Jules, Folarin Balogun to Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka on the wings.

At the time I felt that if Martinelli was being signed to go into the academy squad rather than the 1st team squad, it would be a blow for talented teenagers who had been at the club since primary school days.

My opinion was simple. If Martinelli was to join, it would be to be in and around the 1st team. It was only worthwhile signing him if he was already better than every single one of those aforementioned players.

A decision was made in the summer to send Nketiah on loan.

At 20-years-old, he had spent a few years already playing U23 football and it was clearly a level below him. Even at international youth level, he looks too good for his age group.

The problem he faced was that at Arsenal he had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him. Two world class strikers.

Nketiah needed game time and with Arsenal playing 1 up top, that would have been restrictive – even in the League Cup and Europa League where Unai Emery would have gone with whichever one of his two top strikers was playing second fiddle to the other.

So Nketiah was too good for age group football, yet not quite good enough to get regular minutes in Arsenal’s first team. A loan deal made complete sense.

Off to Leeds United Nketiah went where he has been in good form; already scoring 4 goals this season. However he has yet to make a league start for 2nd in the table for Leeds.

The original plan would have been that Nketiah’s loan deal would be his chance to shine.

A good season at Leeds and he would return to the club a man. 21-years-old and ready to push Aubameyang and Lacazzete. Position himself as a genuine option when 30-year-old Aubameyang’s legs go and he leaves for China or America (it will happen within 2 seasons).

But what has happened whilst he Nketiah has been on loan is he has had to watch on as Arsenal’s new young Brazilian has quickly established himself as a fans favourite.

The situation at Arsenal changed quickly.

An injury to Lacazette left Emery with just the one senior striker. This resulted in him having to look at which teenager would lead the line in the Europa League and League Cup.

Aubameyang started the 1st Europa League game against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Martinelli on the bench. But the young Brazilian was given his chance against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup – scoring twice.

That performance was enough to convince Emery that it was not worth risking Aubameyang in Europe. That Martinelli would be his man for mid-week.

Against Standard Liege Martinelli doubled his goal tally for Arsenal to 4 for the season, adding an exquisite assist in the process. He had arrived.

At this point it is important to point out the importance of not over hyping him.

I have seen some already labelling him the next Carlos Tevez. But he is 18-years-old with two good performances against Nottingham Forest and Standard Leige. We should not be putting him in the starting line-up for Premier League teams yet.

With the performances of Martinelli, it is easy to forget that he is only just 18-years-old. It is that which makes him so exciting.

Time is on his side. There is no need to rush he progression. He will still be a teenager in 2021!

What has impressed about Martinelli the most is his all-round game.

His has shown so far that he can score poacher’s goals, headers and wonder strikes. He has a high work rate, putting pressure on defenders, and is capable of getting involved in the build up play. He could become a complete striker.

Meanwhile Nketiah is a little bit more of a simple striker. He is a finisher, like Ian Wright. He will score goals, a lot of goals. But he will not contribute much else to the team. In modern football, can you really afford to have a striker who is only a goal scorer? Not sure.

The problem Nketiah now faces is that Martinelli is likely to get 6-10 starts this season in the Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup.

If Martinelli continues his current level of performance, and Nketiah does not go and bang in 20+ Championship goals, the Englishman will return to North London behind in the pecking order.

That would leave a 21-year-old Nketiah as 4th choice striker at Arsenal – a team that play one up top. And one of the players ahead of him is 2 years younger, the other 2 will be world class performers.

So role forward 12 months, Aubameyang and Lacazette are combining in Arsenal’s 1st XI and Martinelli is on the bench in the Premier League, starting in the lesser competitions. Where does that leave Nketiah?

At 21-years-old he could still play for the U23 team. But following a season on loan to a top Championship side, that will be a step back.

Another loan deal could be an option, but if at 21 he is not yet ready, and with a (then) 19-year-old ahead of him, a loan deal will be very different to this season. It will not be a case of “you are a young player, go out on loan, perform and next season you will be part of 1st team plans” as 2021/22 Martinelli will still be ahead of him. And just 20.

The other problem Nketiah faces is those other players coming up from behind.

Arsenal have a pair of 18-year-old strikers in Tyreece John-Jules and Folarian Balogun who are next on the Hale End production line.

Next summer Edu will have to decide whether it is worthwhile continuing to develop a Nketiah, or start concentrating on those who are younger.

In the same way arsenal’s focus went from Benik Afobe to Chuba Akpom, then from Akpom to eddie Nketiah; next summer might become a time where a decision is made to let Nketiah go and introduce John-Jules and Balogun to 1st team training, pre-season tours and cup appearances.

Arsenal could well decide to cash in on Nketiah,

Liverpool have done well recently moving on the likes of Dominic Solanke, Kevin Stewart, Jerome Sinclair and Jordon Ibe. Those 4 raised nearly £46million after the Champions League winners decided that they did not have the quality for the highest level.

If Arsenal did decide to sell Nketiah, there would be plenty of Premier League interest.

Would it be unrealistic for Arsenal to command a fee northwards of £20million for him? I would imagine if Leeds did get promoted, they would be very interested in making his loan deal permanent.

So bids for £20m+ for Nketiah come in. He is 4th choice striker and we have teenagers chomping at the bit to get ahead of him. The time might be up for the youngster.