This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. The now synonymous chants whenever Arsenal’s young striker Eddie Nketiah takes to the field. The 20-year-old burst onto the scene with a memorable late brace to spare the Gunners’ blushes against Norwich in the League Cup in October 2017, and became a real fan favourite by doing so.
However, the England U21 international has struggled to really break into the side since that day, but following some fine displays in pre-season, this could well be Nketiah’s year.
Reports earlier in January of this year had suggested that Nketiah could have been set for a loan move to the Bundesliga, but that fell through at the final moment. Unfortunately for the striker, that situation didn’t seem to translate into many opportunities in north London, and he was forced into the shadows as Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette stole the show up front.
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But following Danny Welbeck’s departure on a free transfer at the end of last season, there is certainly greater room for Nketiah to stake a claim. Indeed, his showings in pre-season have certainly given Emery food for thought. The 20-year-old has netted three times in two games in the International Champions Cup, and more than held his own against Bayern Munich and Fiorentina.
A clinical penalty-box predator, Nketiah’s style of play gives Emery a different options to his current striking options. The Englishman is an out-and-out striker, who thrives on poaching goals. The likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette on the other hand have shown that they have different facets to their game. If the Gunners are in need of a goal or an extra body in the box to cause some havoc and chaos, Nketiah could very well be that man.
Indeed, as Emery hinted in his post-match press conference following the Fiorentina game, the chance for Nketiah to stay at the Emirates for the upcoming campaign is there for him to take.
The Spaniard said: “If you earn the right to be with us it’s because I can promise you that you are going to have minutes. We started this pre-season with the same idea as we finished last year – stay with us. And my idea is that if you progress like we are seeing from you, you can have a chance here for us.”
If Nketiah can continue to impress, then he may well have done enough to convince the Gunners hierarchy that he’s good enough to compete with the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette. And that isn’t too shabby for a 20-year-old.