Eddie Nketiah’s career has always met adversity head on.
They say he lacked physicality. During his loan spell to Leeds United last season, he was frequently left out of the side, but in the sporadic minutes he did grace the pitch, what an impact he made. Six goal involvements (5 goals and 1 assist) in just 13 appearances, with most of those appearances coming off the bench.
Nketiah was recalled by Arteta soon after the Spaniard was installed as boss and yet again, doubt revolved around the striker. The general consensus was that Nketiah would be sent out on loan again after Mikel had run the rule over him – but the opposite was the truth. Upon further inspection, Arteta decided Nketiah could bolster his squad and attacking options, and Nketiah became a firm part of the first team makeup, often leaving his more illustrious striking compadre Alexandre Lacazette, on the bench.
And this season, Nketiah is again seemingly on level pegging with Laca in terms of managerial favour. So Eddie is more than used to overturning doubts and showing them he is far better than most think.
And now, the striker has broken Alan Shearer and francis Jeffers’ England Under-21 goalscoring record, becoming the highest scorer at that international level.
Nketiah has shown that with enough starts, he can do what he hired to do – and that is score goals.
You can point to his modest goalscoring record thus far in Arsenal colours. When watching Eddie on the pitch, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what his true skill really is. His hold up play? Adequate. His pace? Enough. But put him in the box with the goalkeeper to beat and that is where Eddie shines – and indeed, a few seconds before the chance falls at his feet, this is where Eddie adds value to the side.
Nketiah finds space in the box. He makes the right runs. He has that ability to sniff out a chance even when he hasn’t touched the ball for what seems like an age. Nketiah has the striker’s instinct. His goalscoring record may not scream that right now, but when your international record is as prolific as his is, it shows that he is more than capable.
Nketiah now needs a run of games to show what he can do. With Lacazette looking back to his best, Eddie may find himself fighting once again to show what he is capable of but this is nothing new to the former Chelsea youth player. He has been doing so his entire career so far – and don’t bet against Eddie doing it again this season, when it matters most to his fledgling career.