Tag Archives: eddie nketiah

Eddie Nketiah owed an apology

Is it time to put some respect on Eddie Nketiah’s name and apologise for the disprespect some fans have given him over the years?

In 2020, I wrote a blog about how time was running out for Eddie. That it was time for the torch to passed to Florian Balogun to replace him as the “young Arsenal striker” in the squad.

He was 21 years old and career had stagnated. At the time I said:

Nketiah is a goal poacher, but his problem is a modern striker needs to be able to do more – whether that be creating, holding the ball up or running the channels.

Balogun was younger and tearing up the youth leagues. The time felt right for him to step up and become Arsenal’s 3rd choice striker (at the time Arsenal have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette leading the line).

3 years on and he is now showing himself as being a very good 2nd choice striker.

When he came in for Lacazette in the back end of last season, I was impressed.

He had developed his hold up play. His work rate had improved and he was running those channels. Everything I had asked for in 2020. Nketiah was much improved.

That led him to get a new contract as Mikel Arteta made it clear – Eddie would be our 2nd choice striker.

Despite his form in the back end of last season (5 goals in the last 7 league games, some still moaned. The following is some of the comments I have colated from one individual that will remain nameless:

“He is stealing time from Balogun. Should never be in an Arsenal kit. He’s woeful.”

“Eddie being offered a new deal is ridiculous if true. Especially at £100k a week.”

“Nketiah isn’t a top 4 striker.”

“Nketiah isn’t a Premier League striker.”

“Get Dominic Calvert-Lewin”

“Nketiah isn’t a Premier League striker. If you honestly think he is then maybe football isn”t for you. He goes to Palace and won’t be their [first choice] striker or back up.”

“It’s not my monty so I’m not spending it. Nketiah is one of the worst strikers in the league and it’s telling that the likes of Palace are in for him. If you think he is good enough for Arsenal that’s fine. You’re allowed to be wrong some of the time.”

“Nketiah should never be starting games for Arsenal. Play Pepe through the middle. Anything is better than Nketiah.”

“He [Nketiah] is absolute shite. One of the worst players in recent years to pull on an Arsenal shirt.”

“If he [Nketiah] had not come through the academy, he would be getting dogs abuse like Xhaka did/does and the likes of Eboue did.”

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That is the goal return from Eddie Nketiah in his 12 Premier League starts since coming in for Lacazette at the back end of last season.

12 games
Scored in 6 of them
9 goals

Ok, so he might not be Erling Haaland. But who is?

Look at Chelsea’s struggles in recent years to sign a decent first choice striker. At Tottenham trying to recruit someone to cover Harry Kane. At Manchester United who have just loaned in a fella from Burnley.

A lot of the credit has to go to Eddie.

He could have remained “just a poacher” and signed for Palace. Lived the easy life off the back of just scoring goals.

But he wanted more.

Eddie got his head down and has improved every aspect of his game. And it is fabulous to see.

I recently wrote how Arteta now has a double striker dilema. That a decision needs to be made in the summer over Eddie and Balogun.

Balogun is doing bits in France. 10 goals in his 18 games for Rennes. But very few would argue that he should now come in for Eddie.

Whilst I do not feel the need to apologise for my Nketiah blogs – everything was correct at the time and he has improved those aspects of the game; many people will have to look into what they said in the past and apologise for it.

Gabriel Jesus will come back in for Eddie when he is fit. But we now know we have a solid 2nd choice striker.

Good job Eddie!

Keenos

Two lined up to replace Gabriel Jesus

Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli.

If anyone thinks we are about to go out into the transfer market to buy a short term replacement for Gabriel Jesus, then they clearly don’t understand the changes Edu and his team have made at the club.

Gone are the days where we sign someone like a Lucas Perez because we are desperate. Gone are the days we loan in a Denis Suarez or Kim Kallstrom in the hope they will settle and do a job for the club in the short term.

The club will no longer waste money on short term solutions, or on players that the scouts do not believe have a long term future.8

The pursuit of Dusan Vlahovic last January shows how much we have changed.

When Juventus beat us to the signature of the Serbian, we did not panic. We kept our powder dry and secured our primary target the next summer – Gabriel Jesus.

Some might blame our lack of striker signing in January as the reason we failed to hit top 4.

Last season the target was always top 6. Failing to strengthen in January did not result in us missing that target.

And by not buying, it ensured we had the finances to complete the best transfer window for some time. And as a result we are top of the league.

If the right player is available in January, we will move for them. But they have to be the right player.

Someone that we were already looking at. Someone who we were considering making a move for in January. If that target does not exist, then we will not waste money on someone who we do not really want.

And the reality is, that target probably does not exist.

Top striker, performing week in week out for his team, will not make a move in January.

That leaves you targeting 2nd tier players, or those whose clubs want rid.

Ivan Toney is a name I see banded about a lot, but he is facing a 6-month ban for his gambling. The Portuguese lad that scored a hat trick the other day, no one had heard of him 7-days ago. And Dominic Calvert-Lewin is more likely to find himself alongside Jesus in the medical room rather than scoring goals in front of the North Bank.

In Martinelli and Nketiah, the club has two good options.

Eddie is hungry and chomping at the but to show he belongs.

As for Martinelli, he is a generational talent and already proved he can play down the middle. 10 goals in his debut Arsenal season as a striker.

The list of potential strikers is short, but the list of new wingers is long.

A wide forward was always our primary target this winter. We will continue that pursuit which will enable Martinelli to be used upfront.

Eddie and Gabi. The two men ready to replace Jesus.

Back the boys!

Keenos

Arteta double striker dilema

Earlier this week, we discussed Arsenal’s options in improving the forward line.

I concluded that it made zero sense to sign a new striker, and that we would be best off signing a winger that can play up top. There are plenty of wingers that can do this.

If we go for a winger who can also cover up front, another question is then raised. Eddie Nketiah or Folarin Balogun as the back-up striker?

12 months ago, I was firmly in the “Nketiah’s time is up” camp.

His form towards the end of last season secured him a new contract and a chance to cement himself as Gabriel Jesus’s long term understudy. But was it the right decision?

Nketiah is yet to start for Arsenal in the league, and failed to score in any of his 142 minutes.

It is perhaps unfair on Nketiah to say that Arteta does not trust him.

As a result of our good form, Nketiah has been more of a “time wasting” substitution to see out the game, rather than being sent on to “grab a goal”:

Aston Villa – Arsenal 2-1 up – Nketiah a 88th minute sub
Bournemouth – 2-0 – 75th minute
Leicester City – 4-2 – 84th
Crystal Palace – 2-0 – 83rd
Brentford – 3-0 – 78th
Nottingham Forest – 5-0 – 75th
Leeds United – 1-0 – 82nd
Liverpool – 3-2 – 90+1
Tottenham – 3-1 – 80th
Wolves – 2-0 – 90+1

In the 3 games where Arsenal were not leading going into the closing stages, Nketiah was bought on much earlier.

1-nil down against Fulham, Nketiah was bought on in the 61st minuted. 2-1 down against Manchester United it was the 74th and 1-1 against Southampton it was the 71st.

In all 3 of those games, he was the first attacking sub we made (in the case of Manchester United, he was part of a trio bought on including Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira). That shows that when Arteta needs a goal, Nketiah is the first man he turns too.

Nketiah has played every minute in the Europa League – although strangely shifted out wide when Jesus has also started.

He has 2 goals in 6 appearances in Europe as well as 1 in 1 in the League Cup. that leaves him with a goal every 150 minutes in the league. Although as discussed, he comes on to see out a game where we are already winning and are not showing much attacking intent.

The question for Arteta is whether he will trust Nketiah enough during the second half of the season to play him ahead of Gabriel Jesus in the league.

There will be league games where Jesus needs a break, or is out of form. Does Arteta rotate his front-men, or continue to flog the Brazilian? And I am not sure of the answer.

Florian Balogun, meanwhile, has been “next in line” for a few years.

18 months ago I wrote a blog about how he was “too good for the U23 but not yet good enough for the first team“.

He could have done with being loaned out for the entire of last season. Instead he went on loan to Middlesbrough for the second half of the season. He was less than inspiring.

With Nketiah’s new deal, a decision was made this summer to loan the 21-year-old out to Reims. Following Nketiah’s new contract, it was felt it loan move to put him in the shop window, rather than to help his development.

He has come on leaps and bounds in France, showing the raw talent we knew he had.

8 goals in 14 games (12 starts) only Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Jonathan David, Alexandre Lacazette and Lorient’s Terem Moffi have scored more. Not a bad list of forwards ahead of you!

Balogun is clearly a magnificent natural goal scorer, but does he have enough to the rest of his game to displace Nketiah going into 2022/23?

3 of his 8 goals have come from the penalty spot, and he has just 1 assists this season. He is averaging a goal every 135 minutes (against Nketiah 1 in 150), although this has been for a mid-table team. He has scored half of Reims goals.

I have not watched enough of him to see if his build up play has improved – it is an area of the game Nketiah has dramatically improved on in the last 12 months.

Any Jesus cover not only has to replace Jesus’s goals, but also his assists, mobility and work rate.

Nex summer, only one of Nketiah or Balogun will be at Arsenal – we have seen with how little game time Nketiah has had that you do not need a 3rd striker. And that other striker choice will probably come from a midfielder who can play up top.

We are very much a “Man City-lite” right now, and for most of Pep’s time in the North-West, he has only had 2 strikers (Aguero & Jesus, Haaland & Alvarez). Liverpool have been the same for a long time (Firminho & Jota, now Nunez an option), whilst

Tottenham have always struggled to fill the “2nd striker position” behing Kane and now utilise wingers (Richarlison, Son), as their alternative options. Chelsea do not really have a striker of any note.

So I guess next year the question is simple.

Nketiah or Balogun?

Keenos