Sunday, July 3, 2022

Nketiah: Run of games gave me the feeling I craved

Eddie Nketiah says it was “impossible to leave” Arsenal once he had assurances about game time from manager Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners confirmed at the weekend that the 23-year-old had signed a new long-term contract ending months of speculation about his future.

A peripheral figure during the first half of the 21/22 campaign, Nketiah looked destined to leave the club on a free transfer as he grew increasingly frustrated at his lack of game time. However, towards the tail-end of the season, things started to change for the striker.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of the picture and Alex Lacazette’s powers on the wane, he finally got a run of games in the side that proved enough for him to rethink his next move. 

Speaking to The Telegraph in his first interview since committing his future to Arsenal, Nketiah reflected:

“Everyone knows how much I love Arsenal. I have come through the academy, I have an attachment with the club. The manager was very supportive and pushed a lot for me to stay.

“Once I had those kinds of assurances, and no doubts that I will get opportunities to play next season, it was almost impossible for me to leave.

“That run [of matches] really helped me. It gave me the feeling I always wanted, that I have craved. That feeling of playing well, doing well, scoring. It helped me with my decision and made it a lot clearer. Experiencing that with my family, we knew this is the place to be. There is nothing quite like doing well for the club you support and love.”

As things stand, Nketiah is the number one candidate to lead the line when the Gunners line up against Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season. That said, if Arteta is successful in his pursuit of Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, that could change.

Nketiah says he’s ready to go head-to-head with whoever is recruited to bolster the attack.

“Every team needs a squad to compete. The club is always looking for ways to strengthen. They have extended my deal and they have done so for a reason. Whoever comes in, you relish the challenge. You make them feel welcome, and then you fight and compete.”

The striker also touched on what he’s been doing to take his game to the next level.

“I have put in a lot of work on my strength and power,” he said. “The stronger I have got, it has allowed me to showcase the skills I have always had. It allows you to compete, to do the things you know you can do. Some people come into the first-team and physically they are fine straight away. But for other people it’s different.”

He continued: “I have worked a lot with the manager on playing with my back to goal, on the spaces to drop into and link play. Of course it has been developed. But at the same time you don’t get here by just standing in the penalty box and scoring a goal.

“People are always going to say things, but I know what I can do. The people that have played with me, played against me, the coaches that have worked with me, I know how they feel about me.”

Having had a few weeks off to rest and recuperate, Nketiah will return for pre-season training next week. It’ll be the first in a while where there’s not been a question mark over his future allowing him to fully focus on staking his claim for more regular game time.

“I know I am not the finished article, and I don’t need to be the finished article right now,” he said.

“I have time to improve and to make mistakes. But I do have belief in myself that if I am given a run, and I play the games, I can deliver. I know I still have so much more to give and so much more to do.”

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You’ll need an account with The Telegraph to read Sam Dean’s full interview which is available here

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Kentish Gooner

And the £100,000 a week contract? 😂. Jokes aside, fingers crossed he gets into double figures with us next season and is on the verge of stealing an England starting spot off that dosser at Sp*rs in time for the World Cup.

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie

He got into double figures this season to be fair.

eddymc2

Re: England, word (admittedly on social media) is that he’ll be turning out for Ghana pretty soon.

karlic

It’s hard to tell which is worse for club football these days – AFCON or the Nations League.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Going forward, AFCON will be played in June/July.

The Beast

I mean next season it’s neither of those competitions to be fair. It’ll be the world cup.

More than happy for any player to represent their country in whatever competition

Qwaliteee

Wenger was right when he said that there were – and still are – way too many Mickey Mouse tournaments going on that prevent players getting enough rest. Bigger squads help, of course, but not every club can afford a big squad.

Yet again, the big clubs, the tv companies and the corporate brands all win at the expense of the financially smaller clubs.

It’s pure fucking greed and whichever way you dress it up, it’s wrong.

The Beast

Responded to the wrong comment. Schoolboy error

Qwaliteee

AFCON should only be played every four years to run concurrently with the Euros.

That would free up African players to get much needed rest for their respective clubs and also allow the African nations a fresher team to participate in the World Cup qualifying rounds and the finals, should they progress.

Under the regime you’re suggesting, Thomas Partey wouldn’t get any rest at all.

Qwaliteee

AFCON.

Still, we’re graduating to an predominantly English/Brazilian set up, so hopefully it won’t be the routine January pain the arse of yore.

Qwaliteee

You wish! 😂🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Heavenly Chapecoense

Eddie shows a lot of confidence when he talks but he wasn’t taking this to the field. Looks like he was scoring goals for fun in training but wasn’t taking that to the field either. Being Arteta’s project now may help him use what he has in the locker. Folks, remember the season Wenger put Walcott ahead of Giroud for the first five games only for spooky Wally to want back on the wings? Tough bearing the confidence your manager has in you. Hope Eddie is stronger.

charvakan

It takes a while to learn how to get the better of Premier League defenders. Eddie is getting there. I like his pressing, and I bet Arteta does too.

Tomaury Bischfeld

The pressing was a major improvement for him this season. He can be a bit careless on the ball in deeper positions too but maybe he can improve on that. He seems like he has a good attitude so maybe with more game time he’ll really kick on.

Emi Rates

Eddie did what was needed from him and scored a few vital goals towards the end of the season when Laca was barren and Auba had gone. He’ll be useful in the Carrabao, early stages of the EL and FA Cup and as a sub in the PL. I also expect him to improve further in the coming season. Keeping him makes absolute sense.

Now onwards to us signing Jesus asap!

Johnny 4 Hats

The kid may not be Henry, Bergkamp or RVP.

But he knows where the goal is. And always has. And that is a priceless commodity.

Lance

“The kid may not be Henry, Bergkamp or RVP” hardly anybody is

ThreadRipper

I liked it last season when he attempted some big shots from outside the box. Some were near misses and the strikes were instintive. I have high hopes. He has speed , good at sudden change of pace and he is decent going at defenders. He could become an important figure if he improves his strength, hold-up play and outside the box shooting.

Jake

“The kid may not be Henry, Bergkamp or RVP.” Nobody is

Der32

The kid may well be a Wrighty.

Qwaliteee

That’s still a massive shout and big boots to follow.

Spanner

That’s the closest comparison for me. He’ll score ugly goals, toe pokes from a yard, headers and screamers, you watch. Plenty of instinct with Eddie.

Nachoman

Fingers crossed

EmileSmithWhoa

The Arsenal team/club being built would likely not take the type of incoming player demanding a number be given them. Eddie is a home grown Arsenal forward. At this point in his career I would have either not signed him or cut his pay in half if he were not desiring and getting #14. You can bet he earned the opportunity, what other option or choice would a good manager make?

Laca New Bendtner

He’s only 23. Henry wasn’t Thierry Henry 14 until he was 26. I believe Eddie will come good.

Johnny 4 Hats

You should check Henry’s highlights at Monaco. He was breathtaking.

So much is spoken of him being this huge flop at Juve. But he was there less than a year.

Henry was a worldie from day one.

It Is What It Is

Not from day one, but he had it….that’s why he was at France 98. Juve were not patient, but that was about the time of Salas, Trezeguet and Del Piero. Anyway, I’m all behind Eddie (LANS) and Jesus. And Tielemens. Hickey AND Lisandro would be a dream. So would Cucarella or Lamptey. If Napoli would take Pepe, then Osimhen has to be our Haaland. Almost indifferent about Raphina – his output really is not much better than Pepe’s, but I’d expect that to improve here. Has attitude and fight too. And I’d at least throw Raphina money + Leno +… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

Voted young player of the year in his first full first season.
Won the league with Monaco the year after.
Took them to the champions league semi finals the year after.
Won the World Cup with France in the following year.
And then he went to Juve.

Not a bad early CV.

Qwaliteee

I remember watching him play on the wing for France in the ‘98 World Cup and thinking ‘future Gooner there.’

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Henry was already the best scorer of France at the WC they won in 1998 with 3 goals, age 20. France had this gerontocratic system at the time where you may be good at the worldcup, you will be asked to go back to the youth team until you are 23 or something. This unsettled him and Trezegoal and this explains his so-called 6-month failure at Juve.

Graham

Dare I say it but he reminds me a bit of Defoe. Also Welbeck but with better goal instincts.

Qwaliteee

Defoe? He’s already better than fucking Defoe! 😂

Dada

A little bit of love goes a long way.

Sammy

That’s Nketiah, he is just like a new signing.

Bill Hall

He deserves to have a chance, he scores a lot of *poachers* goals!

charvakan

Egg-zactly.

LFP

Really sends defenders scrambling.

YaGunnersYa

Credit for not retreating into his shell after Laca went off the boil.

Cranky Colin

There’s something goin on at this club

jw1

Yeah. Feel it too.

AlexNuggz

Now he’s signed, he has my full backing. Good luck this season Eddie, use the negativity you’ve experience as motivation to take you to the next level. COYG

Merlin’s Panini

Good lad Eddie. Prove the doubters wrong. Arteta is no fool and obviously sees a lot in him.

In other news it looks like a fee is now agreed for Gabriel Jesus according to a few reports. Great to see us acting with appropriate urgency!

That’s good to hear. Though I wonder who is the second choice on the list if the Jesus deal falls through.

Qwaliteee

It won’t.

It Is What It Is

I think it’s Jesus/Raphinha.

Qwaliteee

I think we’ll get both – and then we can have a fucking good laugh at the Trophy Dodgers before a ball has even been kicked.

Tucker

He sounds like he’s got his head very firmly screwed on, good lad Eddie

cazorla'swrongfoot

Clearly looked like a very good forward once he found his rhythm last season. Had worries about his commitment prior to that run, but now that he’s signed and with so many good attackers around, he will definitely take his game to the next level. It is great news in this market deprived of pure poachers.

Peter

We finally have a Fox In The BOX 😃

YaGunnersYa

More in the mould of Tony Woodcock rather than Francis Jeffers, I hope, when it comes to Arsenal foxes in boxes.

karlic

I’m really happy he signed and we saw what a bit of consistent selection did for his game.

Laca New Bendtner

I believe him.

Man Manny

Nketiah over Lacazette two months earlier than when it finally happened last season may have delivered CL football.
Lacazette’s glaring miss against Burnley, for example, is one that Nketiah might have put away.
Just thinking.

A Different George

One thing that makes me optimistic is that we know a lot more about Eddie’s ability to score goals than just that short run of games. He is the record scorer for England under 21, with an extraordinary haul of about a goal a game. Obviously he won’t do near as well in the Prem (because no one does), but it means that late run was no fluke.

Qwaliteee

Rock Steady Eddie.

Looking forward to seeing him take the piss out of Chelsea and Co again next season.

👍😊

Emi Rates

Chelski is one club I truly wish a painful decline on next season. It’s been a long time coming!

Qwaliteee

For me, it’s the Spuds.

I hope they suffer red cards, yellow cards, bad VAR decisions, pulled hamstrings, twisted knees, broken legs (Son and Kane) glass ankles and plates of dodgy pre match food – every single fucking game.

I can then laugh my head off when the get relegated and look back on our 5-0 victory at the Emirates and 0-10 victory at the Toilet Bowl with a smile of exquisite satisfaction.

Emi Rates

I wish this for them too but unfortunately I don’t think it’s their time yet. They have one, probably two, more seasons at least of being a pain in the arse for us. Kane is 29 now, he’ll still be protected by refs whole England captain of course, but I expect him to become more of a donkey by the day as he hits his 30s. He might even be dropped from playing for England and then everyone will start kicking him back as the yellows and reds suddenly start coming his way. All he’ll have left in end will… Read more »

YaGunnersYa

Agree with all of the above, bar injuries. We should have too much class for that.

FingersFurnell

Eddie starts with the shirt next season based on how he finished the one just gone and it’s up to someone else to take that off him, but there will be some games where he will start as well as Jesus (if we get him), others where they might share the game time, I would like to see Balogun come back into the squad and get some time as well and I also think we might buy another striker even if we get Jesus, we started the season with 4 including Eddie and Balogun last season, same again I reckon.

Jesus (if we sign him in good time) surely starts at Palace.

I don’t see us signing two new strikers as Vieira can play as a second striker.

FingersFurnell

Maybe Nainsley, but that shouldn’t be the case just because he is a name and we have just signed him (if we do), it may well depend on what tactics we try to deploy for that one, pre season prep, who is fit and ready etc but I’m just saying that because of the way in which Eddie performed in those last games when he finally got his run he deserves to start next season, not just assumed to be the back up. We had players already that allegedly “can” play up top, Pepe, Martinelli, ESR were mentioned in that… Read more »

charvakan

Unless we have a freezer full of spare legs for Tomi, Partey, and KT, the top priority ought to be fullbacks and a central mid now. We have an awesome set of attackers, with Gabriel Jesus (if it happens) and Vieira. The jury’s out on Balogun. Maybe it’s the similarity in name to Sanogo…

Paul

“a freezer full of spare legs” 🤣

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