Mikel Arteta says he has no worries about Eddie Nketiah’s continued development despite the striker being limited to just nine minutes of first team football since the defeat to Everton over a month ago.
A combination of Alex Lacazette’s form and the return to fitness of Gabriel Martinelli has meant the England under-21 international has spent six of the last seven games as an unused sub. At one point it was mooted the striker could be sold to West Ham to raise vital funds for a squad rebuild while also making room for Folarin Balogun to step into his shoes.
Such talk was quickly quashed by Arteta who maintains full belief in a player who he took a gamble on this time last year.
“You go back one calendar year and compare what he’s done,” said the boss ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Southampton.
“He was coming from Leeds, where he wasn’t playing at all, we were going to send him on loan and I decided not to do it. It’s a big transformation.
“He’s a young player, he’s got some players competing with him in that position but I think he’s done a lot and his development in a year for his position, compared to any other striker his age in Europe, you won’t see many that have played that many minutes.”
Nketiah has five goals and one assist to his name for Arsenal this season and has been a talisman for England at under-21 level, breaking Alan Shearer’s and Francis Jeffers’ scoring record.
Despite a recent spell on the sidelines, Arteta insists the player has the right attitude to star at the highest level.
“He makes sure every day that he’s on track, the way he trains and the way he pushes everybody,” said the Spaniard. “I’m not worried about that.”
Given the games coming up, we wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie gets game time at Saint Mary’s tomorrow.