It has been a turbulent month so far for Eddie Nketiah. The talented 20 year old striker had his loan move at Leeds cut short due to lack of playing time, resulting in Arsenal recalling the player. This was much to the disgust of Leeds boss Marcelo Biesla who insisted that his club did whatever was promised to Arsenal in the summer. Initially, the plan was for Arsenal to send the player back on loan to a team where he would be guaranteed regular playing time. However, this did not materialize. In the week of training Nketiah had under Arteta, he reportedly impressed to such a degree that our head coach was left with no other choice but to cancel an impending move away from the club and keep the player instead.
Right now, Arsenal are blessed to have 4 quality strikers in Aubameyang, Lacazette, Martinelli and Nketiah. However, it must be noted that if Arsenal fail to secure Champions league qualification next season, we could end up losing Aubameyang and Lacazette. Martinelli is undoubtedly a generational talent, but his profile is a bit different to the others. The Brazilian is adept as playing as a left forward and possesses the necessary ball carrying and dribbling ability our other forwards lack. While I do feel that Martinelli will eventually end up as a center forward - For the immediate term he would be a great option for our left flank.
Lacazette, at this moment in time is on a barren patch. He has failed to score in over a month. Additionally, he has not scored an away PREMIER LEAGUE goal for almost a year. While Lacazette can be a useful option in linking up the play in the final third, there are serious question marks on whether he is clinical enough to get over 20 Premier league goals a season. Football is a game of fine margins. Lacazette had chances against Bournemouth, Chelsea and Palace (albeit a difficult one) to win us the 3 points. The net result is that we emerge with 2 points from those 3 games. Now, I am not blaming that solely on Lacazette as we did make inexcusable defensive errors. My point is, we need to be more clinical. At the end of the day, taking that one chance can be the difference.
Could Eddie Nketiah be the answer? His mentor and Arsenal legend Ian Wright certainly believes in him.
Right from his youth days at Chelsea, Nketiah has had the reputation of being an instinctive finisher. At various levels for England, Nketiah has scored 27 goals in just 29 appearances. For Leeds, he averages a goal every 132 mins. He has 5 goals for the club despite starting just 4 games. He has only played around 80 minutes of Premier league football and is yet to have a league start. When he came on against Burnley in the final game of last season, he looked at home playing in Premier league, even going on to score his first league goal.
This is what Leeds defender Luke Ayling speaking to inews.co.uk had to say about Nketiah:
"I could see him going back and playing many, many games for Arsenal. He's a very good player, he can score a lot of goals, he's just got a natural instinct for being in the right place at the right time."
Nketiah has a high ceiling - Lighting quick acceleration, great work ethic and clinical in front of goal. He is also very clever with his positioning inside the box. Eddie is quite similar to Aubameyang in many aspects and it would do him a world of good to learn from Aubameyang during training sessions.
There is a reason Arteta has decided to keep Nketiah, He will be a valuable option in cup games, as well as coming off the bench in Premier league matches to stretch tiring defenses. Should Aubameyang leave the club, we could have a ready made option from within. Chelsea have solved their striker crisis by placing confidence in Tammy Abraham. Eddie Nketiah had similar numbers to Tammy for the youth sides, as well as having a similar goal scoring frequency in the Championship. It will be interesting to Eddie develop under Arteta and elevate his game to the next level.