Eddie Nketiah has stepped into the place of injured Gabriel Jesus and has kept Arsenal on track to win their first Premier League title in 19 years.
In the midst of a drama-filled 2021/22 season for Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah was caught during Arsenal’s All or Nothing documentary on Amazon berating fellow teammate Sambi Lokonga, who was complaining about a lack of game time.
“So what my friend? You think you are the f****** only one not playing my friend huh? Stop feeling sorry for yourself and f****** wake up.” (Source)
With no European football last year for Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah’s chances to impress Mikel Arteta were short and for the first part of the Premier League season, Nketiah was not even making the matchday squad for the North London club. In a podcast interview with The Beautiful Game Podcast, Eddie Nketiah revealed that it was “one of the hardest seasons [for him]”.
In addition to this, Nketiah felt like the expectations from fans last season were difficult due to the fact he was often coming in late games when Arsenal already had the lead.
Before signing an extension with Arsenal last summer, Eddie Nketiah seemed set to leave the club alongside former striker Alexandre Lacazette, who joined Lyon on a free transfer.
It wasn’t until near the end of the last Premier League season that Nketiah was given a chance by manager Mikel Arteta to prove his worth at Arsenal. He notably scored a brace in April 2022 in a 4-2 London derby win over Chelsea.
After an impressive display at Stanford Bridge last year, Nketiah started the rest of the season for Arsenal and sent Lacazette to the bench. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that if Nketiah didn’t have the end of the season he had, he would be playing somewhere else now. Nketiah showed that when given the opportunity he is able to shine and there’s nothing more the boyhood Arsenal fan wants to do than be the club’s number 9.
Back to square one for Nketiah – the addition of Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal
Despite signing a new contract, valid until 2027 with Arsenal, Eddie Nketiah began the season as the backup centre-forward. After losing Aubameyang in the winter of 2022 to Barcelona and Lacazette returning to his former club, it was no secret Arsenal was searching for a new man up top.
With Norwegian phenom Erling Haaland linking up at Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus was seen as a surplus to Pep Guardiola’s side and subsequently made a move to Arsenal.
For Eddie Nketiah, he was back in a similar position that saw him on the outside looking in on Arsenal’s new and improved squad. Thankfully for him, Arsenal qualified for Europa League which meant that even if there were going to be limited opportunities in the Premier League, he would still get minutes.
As expected, life began much the same for Nketiah at the start of this season with Arsenal flying high in the Premier League and newcomer Gabriel Jesus playing an integral role in Arteta’s side. It wasn’t until Jesus picked up a major injury at the World Cup for Brazil that a pathway opened up for Nketiah.
In his first Premier League start this season, Eddie Nketiah scored in a 3-1 win over West Ham at the Emirates. Including that first start, Nketiah has scored 4 goals in his last 5 Premier League games. With the help of the English striker, Arsenal is rolling at the top of the Premier League and is looking to increase the gap between them and 2nd as the season continues.
Arsenal has yet to lose this season in the Premier League when Eddie Nketiah starts.
Very recently, Nketiah is making all the headlines and for the right reasons. He earned a brace in Arsenal’s massive 3-2 win over Manchester United on January 22nd. Nketiah scored a 90th-minute winner which included an unbelievable flick of the ball into the back of the net.
Mikel Arteta: “I think [Nketiah] has surprised a few people with how he responded to the huge challenge & demands he had after Gabriel [Jesus] got injured. We are positive he can get much better, evolve & still continue to develop.” – January 25th
With Gabriel Jesus’ injury timeline still undetermined, Nketiah looks to keep up his form with hopes of helping Arsenal lift the Premier League trophy for the first time since the invincibles.