Monday, May 16, 2022

Arteta wants players to feel important, admits to Nketiah regrets

Mikel Arteta says creating an environment where all his players are “engaged” and “feeling important” will be key factors in determining Arsenal’s success in the final third of the season.

Despite slimming down his bloated squad in January, the boss – thanks to minimal injury issues – still finds himself relying on a core set of players meaning others are getting minimal if any, minutes on the pitch.

Eddie Nketiah, Calum Chambers, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli have all fallen down the pecking order in recent weeks while Nicolas Pepe, Pablo Mari and Willian have flitted in and out of the starting lineup.

Facing the press ahead of Saturday’s clash with Burnley, Arteta touched on the importance of collective motivation and what he now needs from his squad.

“First of all that we maintain the togetherness that we have among the group, that everyone feels important and valued,” he said.

“Then obviously raise the level individually because that is going to improve every position and when that happens we will have good performances, and the better we play, the better results we will have.

On how he keeps the energy high, he added: “Trying to keep everyone engaged, feeling important and that they are going to be key for our success in the last few months.

“The contribution you can have whether you play a minute, whether you are on the bench or whether you start the game for me are equally important because in the last few months, when fatigue comes in, substitutions are key and rotation is key and when you have the opportunity you cannot demand, ‘I need four or five games now to perform’, you need to immediately and you have to maximise the minutes you get on that pitch.”

Prior to Christmas, Eddie Nketiah made 12 Premier League appearances, however, his only league minutes since came in a nine minute cameo against Crystal Palace. The Gunners didn’t want to loan or sell him in January but nor is he likely to usurp Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette for a starting place anytime soon.

You can tell Arteta is feeling a bit guilty about the situation knowing it’s an important moment in the 21-year-old’s career.

“Well, when we’re talking about management, this is one of the hazards to leave someone like Eddie out of the squad, but at the moment everybody has been fit and we have so many options up front.

“But it hurts as well because of how Eddie behaves and trains every day and because he’s a player from our academy, but he will have his chance. He needs to be patient and he’s showing no signs of lacking attitude or anything like that, it’s the complete opposite.

“He’s a joy to work with and he deserves minutes and if he doesn’t get it, it’s just my fault.”

He even went on to admit that a lack of minutes could damage his development.

“Yeah, there is [a chance of that] because he needs to play and we’ve been wanting to use him a little bit more on some occasions and we didn’t.

“To be fair, when he’s played, he’s played well, but at his age and for what he’s done the last two or three seasons, he needs more minutes. It’s something we have to talk about openly and make the right decision.”

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I’m not the only one to express this, but just imagine if Eddie was on loan at Brighton. He would be tearing it up there. Every game they have 3 or 4 XG with just poor welbz on the end of it. Not only would that have been great for his career, it would have instantly added another 10mil onto his value. I cannot understand not loaning him out, we have 2 senior CFs and Pepe and Martinelli. Now we have to make a decision on his contract this summer, where in all likelihood he will be pawned off for… Read more »


Agree we should have loaned him, don’t think he’s good enough for us currently, but think in general or loans have been really sensible and better than in previous years. Probably largely thanks to the BFG actually giving a shit in your he runs the academy.


NOT just Welbz Maupay is not exactly a prolific striker either. But I agree Graham Porter has a similar philosophy as Brendan Rodgers and Martinez when he developed at Swansea similar to Arteta without the quality players. Posession based attacking football I’ve enjoyed watching Brighton too bad they lack quality upfront. I think thats a team Nketiah can function in very well. The issue I have with NKETIAH is he’s general play is not very good, he literally offers nothing when he’s not in the box, he’s also a bit selfish in some situations where he doesn’t have to be… Read more »

El Mintero

Brighton already have an Eddie-like striker from Arsenal…Danny Welbeck! Except Welbz is the superior player and no way Eddie would start in front of him.

Sad to say he’s had his chances and just not good enough for a starting role in the Arsenal first XI.



Welbeck and Nketiah are completely different players.

Welbeck was very good in build-up a had a great work-rate, but he wasn’t a particularly good finisher.

Eddie doesn’t do any of that, but he’s very good at poaching goals.

Brighton’s overall game is pretty good, they just need someone who would put the goals away, which is not Welbeck, but it might well be Nketiah.


I honestly think there is more to come from Eddie. He’s only 21 and obviously has an innate striking instinct. I hope we can see him so he can develop physically and challenge for a first team spot.


I think we should cash in this summer, he is an average player and do not have the world class-potential like balogun, martinelli and Saka, all of which is younger than Eddie…


But losing Balogun, which seems given at this point, I guess we should stick with Eddie?

Viv the 🐐

To make the discussion a perfect threeway, I say give John-Jules a chance. 😉 I would seriously consider that.


How about Nikolaj Möller?


IMO Eddie showed his limitations in that FA cup loss to Southampton.
He was trusted to lead the line by Arteta, and quite simply bottled his chance. I have nothing against him, and his record at youth level speaks for itself, but I do not see him becoming even a bench option for Arsenal in the future. You can tell when players have it and when they don’t, and from that Southampton game onwards he’s had 9 minutes in all comps. Arteta has clearly lost faith as well.


Don’t think we can really put Balogun in the same bracket as Martinelli or Saka yet.


I don’t think you can put Martinelli in the same bracket as Saka.
Martinelli tore up the group stages of the Europa league and early stages of our domestic cups last year. He didn’t do much in the league.

A Different George

Martinelli shows real promise. Smith Rowe looks likely to become a regular first-choice selection. Saka is a star, now.

Viv the 🐐

Apart from Chelsea at the Bridge


Eddie is 21 Players develop at different rates, Aubameyang didn’t have his breakthrough season until he was 24/25 Ian Wright didn’t turn professional until he was almost 22, and didn’t sign for Arsenal until was was almost 28 Vardy was playing non-league until his mid 20s Look at the progress of Calvert-Lewin over the past 12 months, he’s beginning to look like a real player None of us know how young players will develop, Saka is the exception, not the rule. Saka has 5 PL goals this season, which is as many as all the other teenagers combined Eddie’s youth… Read more »

Spanish Gooner

Jack Wilshere was bossing Xavi and Iniesta at 19 and now he’s playing in the Championship aged 27. Does that mean we should sell Saka ASAP? Of course not – it’s ridiculous to use clear outliers to prove a rule


Writing off 21yr olds is knee jerk I have no idea if Nketiah will develop into a consistent goal scorer at the highest level, but unless you have a crystal ball? Neither do you Declaring them average at 21, before they’ve even got 50 starts, is ridiculous Players at 21, aren’t meant to be the finished article, they’re just starting out….. I can understand criticising players if their effort or conduct isn’t up to scratch, but why can’t people just get behind our youth players and support them….. Instead of having a competition on who can get the hottest take,… Read more »

El Mintero

Not knee jerk. He’s had plenty of chances and done next to nothing. He’s a poacher type striker that does not score enough and you ain’t gonna start in arteta’s team if you don’t have more to your game than that…plus he’s tiny and easily bossed around by centre halves…plus, Bielsa took him on loan last year and binned him after 3 months…he couldn’t do it in the championship either…what more proof do we need?!


He was 20 last season

He’s 21 this season

Lets wait and see how he develops

21yr olds aren’t meant to be the finished article, they’re still learning the game


I’m just not sure. He hasn’t pushed on at all since he had those run of games after returning from Leeds. He scored some goals through his positioning and we all got excited (rightly so when a 20y.o. striker is scoring goals), but his hold up play is average at best, he is average in the air, he doesn’t dribble past players, he isn’t effective in wide areas, and doesn’t really score from distance. I think he is more or less who he is. A poacher. Those players have solid careers and if in the right situation he’ll score goals… Read more »

Viv the 🐐

One thing, that should seal the deal, is, do we want a pure goalpoacher to be our striker? Is that the Arsenal way, the Arteta way? An Aguero kinda player would be ideal. Good finishing, smart, and phenomenal technique. Nketiah would have to make an astronomical jump in the last regard for me. He looks so lost with his feet. Do we want to spend one of the most prescious ressources in football, game time, on a player, who will probably be not as good as Giroud? I certainly don’t see the right qualities with Eddie for Arsenal, if Balogun… Read more »


You never know what can happen. I remember Aaron Ramsey was around 21 or 22 and Wenger kept giving him chances and I was thinking, “this guy can’t finish, he’s an inconsistent passer… what is Wenger thinking?” But, Wenger saw in him what I couldn’t. And he became top class.

Nketiah may or may not be the same, but we need to trust a manager with Arteta’s vision to make the right calls. Especially when he sees him day in, day out in training.


I think that is a better description of Willock than Nketiah (Willock also more resembles Ramsey’s playing style). People have had the knives out for Willock since he started to break into the first team, but he HAS the talents and attributes to be really good. Doesn’t mean he will get there (technique, vision and passing still need work), but he is doing well at Newcastle. My toon mate is super impressed with him and thinks he might kick-on. He said Newcastle pushed hard for a buy-clause but Arsenal sensibly refused. IMO that is the difference with Eddie, he hasn’t… Read more »

Stephen Carson

Good assessment. I too am impressed with what Willock is doing at Newcastle.

Tankard Gooner

After having slated Willian to no end myself and Arteta for persisting with him, I’ve got to agree. The man obviously sees them daily at practice and is in the best position to gauge their levels. With Eddie, time is very much definitely on his side, and the improvements we expect of him (like holding play and link up) are surely things that will come with more minutes on the pitch. Its one thing to go through the drills in practice. Doing it in a 90 min PL game requires big experience and knowledge about what to do exactly at… Read more »


Hector Bellerin/Nketiah……how many young players rise to the occasion when circumstances mean they get multiple first team opportunities? How many younger players do not get those opportunities? How many factors outside their control impact their careers?

Spanish Gooner

What people forget is that during that time we also persisted with Diaby, Sanogo, Djourou, Denilson, Bendtner and many others despite their inconsistency/injuries and it did not pay off. Also, Ramsey had already shown himself to be an elite talent at Cardiff and his first season here, then struggled because his leg got cut in half by a gremlin. Nketiah has never shown Bendtner’s level of talent, never mind Ramsey


To be fair, Bendtner is TGSTEL, so the comparison may be a tad harsh.

Nketiah is England U21’s record goalscorer. Plus, having a fox in the box is a good option to have.


is a bit unfair to include diaby in that list. he was a huge talent whose career was wrecked by injury. there is no doubt in my mind he would have been a top player if he hadn’t had that terrible tackle on him. i also had high hope for djourou but for whatever reason he never seemed to push on. agree predicting future success is very difficult at that age.


I dont think he has the best attitude

Murphy was an Arsenal Fan

Irrespective of whether one rates a player or not (not my job, that’s Arteta’s), I really want the academy guys to do really well, including Heccy B. When one of those leaves (and it seems likely that one or all of Nketiah, Nelson and AMN will move, perhaps even Willock), it feels wrong somehow. Wish them the best if that comes to pass, just not against us.


Pretty obvious “man management” skills surely. The most important people at any football club are the players because they are the club when it matters most – playing on the pitch, everything and everybody else is secondary for that time.

I would have thought it goes without saying that any manager would need to ensure all his players, particularly those in the squad but not playing regularly, felt engaged and important to help ensure that we retain the best at Arsenal.


Not troubled if Nketiah were to leave. He’s got good instinct and positioning, but I don’t see him as having any other dimension to his game.

Could Arteta’s system be to blame for limiting Nketiah’s ability to showcase other skill sets? I don’t know.

From what we’ve seen though, sell him in the summer. Keep Balogun or sign Edouard.


Our squad is still far too big We’ve got a first team squad of 25, With another 7 players out on loan If we lose Ceballos, Odegaard, Ryan, Luiz, we’ll still have a first team squad of 28 this summer Which is 6 too many with European football, without it, we’d need to purge this squad even further, before we looked at bringing anymore in We need to bring the youth team closer to the first team, and we need to stop hoarding players, it’s very much a case of balance + quality, over quantity, that we should be targeting… Read more »

John C

My natural reaction is to say the club needs a smaller squad of better quality, and i do think that is the long term target but this season is unique in that there are so many games being played in such a short space of time. When you add that clubs are low on cash you have to realistic as to what transfer fee you might be able get for some players, so clubs have to play this game carefully. Let’s just hope that come the end of the season having so many players will help us finish higher up… Read more »


The first sentence is particularly true if we fail to reach Europe next season.

John C

I’m pretty sure i heard Man City have used the fewest number of players this season.

A squad of 20 players of uniformly high quality is definitely preferable to 25 of varying levels

Public Elneny

They’ll crash at some point in the next season or 2, just like Liverpool have this year. Playing the same team over and over can work for a season or 2 (especially with the help of shady team doctors), but isn’t sustainable and will likely cause chronic injury issues in a large proportion of the squad I do agree that we need to focus on quality over quantity though. Maybe a squad of 20 or so senior players (including Saka, ESR, Martinelli etc), with the slack taken up by U-23 players getting serious minutes to keep the established players fresh,… Read more »

John C

I don’t know if they’ll crash, they’re very good at rotating.

In 27 Premier League matches this season Ederson their GK has started 26, Rubin Diaz 24 games, Rodrigo 23, Sterling 22 and Cancelo 20, everyone else below 20. They have a lead of 15 points which means at the moment they can win with 4 matches remaining. Another opportunity to rest their players, so it’s possible that they’re not particularly worn out.

What’s important though is that it shows the power of having a squad where genuine rotation can take place

Bleeding gums murphy

Yep it’s better we don’t win the league or even try as we don’t want players to crash after winning the champions league and premiership. Let’s keep em fresh and stay mid table.


It’s not been reported on here yet but Arteta said the club are keen to offer Lacazette a new contract. If he stays it’s likely Nketiah and Balogun will both be off, can’t see us keeping both and Martinelli just to fight it out for 3rd choice CF and of those 3, the club are surely most invested in Martinelli. If Nketiah does go I think he has a future in the premier league, especially in sides that play two strikers and there’s less focus on bringing others into play. He’ll have to add more to his game to thrive… Read more »

The Pedge

Articles don’t appear to be showing on the website properly. Hence I’m commenting first perhaps. Not trying to be that guy though!

Viv the 🐐

I think it is particularly hard with Nketiah to say, where he is heading. He showed me very very little technical skill and his poaching was on and off for me. I think he will be heading the Akpom, Afobe, Sanogo direction. Nice youth strikers but not made for the biggest stage, though respectable. I think there is little worth sticking around for 3 years or so. But it should be clear in the summer for Eddie: Sign a new contract and go out on loan, or leave on a permanent. No negotiating in the last year. I’ve had enough… Read more »


Think Eddie will be a good CF in the future, I just dont get the feel he’ll be good enough. If he can run off the shoulder of the defender into lots of space and with time, he’s a serious danger. He also has a knack of being in the right place at the right time in the 6yrd box for those easy tap ins… What I have not seen Eddie do is hold up play nor creating a chance for himself. Ive seen Balogun do all of the above, and for that reason, thats why I feel we should… Read more »


I find it hard to belive anything MA says when it comes to merit. He clearly has favorites which is fine if only they preform

Disarmed Gunner

When Arteta came in he struck me as a bit of a blunt and dynamic speaker. Nowadays it’s just a bunch of words and efforts to sound intelligent. His press conferences have descended into the same incoherent and vague rambles and warbling that his predecessor was famous for.

Also the way he used obviously a lot leads me to believe he thinks he knows things that others don’t. Sounds more and more arrogant.
I stopped listening long ago when I came away feeling like I’d just be done by a politician. Lots of words but no action.


Arteta talks a good game but that’s about it.


Agree with Andrew Allen’s assessment on the squad today. We need to mint some money in order to bring in players. Lack of Cl footy (and potentially Europa) will add issues. Players listed need to likely be moved on or may not be renewed : 1) Luiz – I don’t think Arteta should be relying on him as a crutch. We have 3 promising Cbacks (who will make their mistakes) but who need to crank on now with as much playing time together to develop some mutual level of understanding – Mari/Holding/Gabriel. add likely Saliba in the mix. 2) Bellerin… Read more »

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