Every Arsenal fan in the world is well aware that Eddie Nketiah will be leaving us on a free transfer this summer, along with Alexandre Lacazette, and the Gunners would be even more short of strikers than ever before.
But right now, with Lacazette expected to miss the trip to Southampton today, I simply cannot see that Mikel Arteta has any choice except to play our misfiring youngster.
Although us fans don’t rate him for his goalscoring record over the last few years, the fact is that he is only ever used as a substitute when Arteta is ready to bring smeone off (usually Lacazette who rarely lasts 90 minutes either). In fact, against Brighton, Nketiah played for a whole 28 minutes, which is the longest time he has been on the pith for Arsenal this year!
It must also be noted that, although he hasn’t scored this year, Nketiah has hit the post or the bar in his last few games, so you could say that he is getting closer. Maybe with a full 90 minutes under his belt he may just put the ball in the back of the net.
There is also the problem that Arteta simply has no one else that could play up front anyway, unless he shocks us all by giving Pepe a starting spot.
Many have suggested that our usual supersub, Emile Smith-Rowe could start as a striker, but Arteta made that a non-starter when he said yesterday: “He’s not been completely fit to be training and playing every game, but it’s a possibility. It’s a position that I think he can fulfil in the future, but he needs training, and he needs experience in.”
That’s a strange thing to say, as I’m sure Arteta has said in the past that ESR could play as centre-forward, but I think the boss’ point is that heis simply not fit enough right now. In fact he has always needed to have his time on the pitch restricted to avoid injury, even when he was out on loan at Huddersfield.
So, the way I see it is that there is no one else that can start as centre-forward today other than Eddie.
Do you agree?
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Video – Mikel Arteta on the Southampton clash and our injury situation