Great Britain

Arsenal fans are right that Eddie Nketiah can be a massive star in the future but only if Arteta changes his system

EDDIE NKETIAH has played a key role in Arsenal's unbeaten start to the campaign having scored two goals in four games.

Of course, he has been the talk of Arsenal social media for his strike against Leicester, but also his apparent disillusionment at Nicolas Pepe for not squaring him the ball for the opening goal.

Eddie has not only been scoring for Arsenal, his plethora of England U21 goals have taken him to within two of the great Alan Shearer’s record at that level.

Such feats will obviously lead to fans, and not just Gunners, pondering just how good young Nketiah can be.

I have my own thoughts which I will endeavour to articulate but I thought it might be informative to ask the Arsenal fanbase their views, in preparation for this piece.

The results were fascinating and the fact that over 4850 fans voted in a Twitter poll tells me that this is a player we are vested in.

The outcome confirms this because of the three options, 11 per cent felt that Eddie was a stop gap at best, while 26 per cent held the view that he would be Arsenal’s main striker in the future.

And 63 per cent believe that he is the perfect squad rotation option for Mikel Arteta. 

In short, 74 per cent see Eddie Nketiah having a main or important role to play for Arsenal.

At present his coach seems to have a plan for the player and until such time as Gabriel Martinelli is fit, or even if we buy a further striker, that plan is working for him and the team.

In the Premier League, Nketiah is coming on for Alexandre Lacazette for the last quarter of the match, once his senior partner has worked the defenders so hard, they are tired, and their concentration might be below par.

This allows a fresh livewire goal scorer like Eddie to punish teams in the final 20, as we saw against West Ham.

In the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, I suspect Nketiah will lead the line.

Despite being focal and demanding on the pitch, I suspect at only just 21, he is humbler and patient away from it.

Eddie has time on his side, knows he has Arteta’s faith, will get considerable game time and surely must realise in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lacazette he has two incredible role models to learn from.

In truth I believe that for Nketiah to be the main striker for Arsenal the team would need to adopt a different playing style, not inconceivable, or he will have to improve his upper body strength, his hold up and link play.

These aspects are strengths for Lacazette and are why he is trusted in the current system, but we all know Arteta wants further creativity in his midfield and should that arrive his set-up might adapt.

Nketiah’s assets are his movement in the penalty box, his striker’s instinct to find space and undoubtedly his coolness in front of goal and finishing.

In fact, I would probably go as far as to say that in these aspects he is a top five Premier League striker but in a sole striker system that is not enough.

The fox in the box style striker that he undoubtedly is, will shine in a two-striker system, big man, little man.

However, it can work, as it does for him within the England set up, in a 4-3-3, when there are two natural wingers who will beat their fullback and cut the ball back or cross low and hard inside the six-yard box.

Oddly for England, both Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson played wide of Eddie at various points in recent wins, perhaps a nod to the future?

The Arsenal reality at present is that our main man Aubameyang is on the left, so in the short term Nketiah will not get that type of service from that flank.

He would need Pepe on the left beating his man and crossing with his natural foot, rather than cutting back on to his left from the right as he does now.

He really needs the Man City style of wing service enjoyed by Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus and whilst we have the players in Pepe, Saka and Nelson, it will not occur as we justifiably and logically build the team around Auba.

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Therefore, our young homegrown English Lion will have to bide his time and see how the situation evolves, content that his manager has his back and that he will play a vital role for Arsenal this season, in all competitions.

I hope he is happy with his Premier League super-sub role as we all know how many great players have been vital to their clubs performing off the bench.

I predicted a while back that he will score more than 15 goals for the first team this season and I happily stand by that contention.

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