Mikel Arteta has admitted that he isn’t happy that he hasn’t been able to Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah.
The 21 year-old has only been selected to start three Premier League matches this term, with around two-thirds of the campaign completed, in comparison to starting seven last season, despite only returning to the club in January.
Nketiah is currently on course to play less minutes in his first full season in the first-team squad than he did in around half the time last term, and you could understandably have questions as to why.
You have even more questions if the manager’s following comments ring true, with Arteta claiming that our youngster has done everything that has been asked of him and remained professional throughout.
MA said ahead of the Burnley clash this weekend (via Arsenal.com): “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 upfront. 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.
“Yeah, there is 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.”
Nketiah hasn’t really done much when coming off the bench in the PL this term, notching just one goal in his 14 league outings this term, but his time on the pitch has been limited.
I’m not sure why Eddie was allowed to play wider last season, but this season he has solely been played down the middle if there isn’t enough minutes to go around centrally, especially as some of his better matches were from playing wide in my opinion.
Nketiah certainly appears to have been mismanaged this term, and his treatment isn’t likely to help us in our bid to keep Folarin Balogun either, who is out of contract come the summer.
Has Nketiah done enough to warrant more starts? Is it Arteta’s fault for not providing enough minutes to build some level of form?