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Should Arsenal supporters be excited about Eddie Nketiah?

Jake Jackman

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Nketiah

Arsenal had to fight hard to retain their place in the Carabao Cup after trailing to Norwich City for a long period of the match on Tuesday night. There appeared a lack of options available to Arsene Wenger on the bench, but one teenager stepped up and took the opportunity to make a name for himself. Eddie Nketiah was brought on in the 85th minute and scored seconds later with an instinctive finish from close range.

It was an incredible impact from the 18-year-old and this would have impressed everybody that was watching the game. The atmosphere was tense at this point with the supporters fearing a cup exit against a lower league side at home for the first time since 1983. There were groans every time an Arsenal player made an error on the ball. Few players were willing to try to make something happen in fear of making a mistake. These weren’t the best conditions for an inexperienced player to be coming into, but Nketiah wasn’t fazed by the occasion.

Young players are often confident in their ability and willing to put themselves about to make a positive impression. Nketiah certainly did this, displaying impressive positioning and composure for the first goal. However, it was his second of the evening that will be remembered most. The teenage striker met a good corner with a powerful header to give the home side a lead in extra-time. His physicality and goal-scoring instincts are the reasons why Arsenal are in the draw for the quarter-finals.

By scoring for the Gunners, the 18-year-old became the first player born after Arsene Wenger became the club’s manager to score for Arsenal. It was a huge risk to field the side that he did, while the lack of options on the bench left him with little room to manoeuvre. However, those decisions have led to a breakthrough moment for a young player and the Frenchman will look back with no regrets.

Who is Eddie Nketiah?

There will be a lot of people that will be unfamiliar with the 18-year-old, but he has been tipped for big things at the Emirates Stadium after making his debut in the Europa League earlier this season. Nketiah has been one of the club’s best players at youth level over the last two years. During that time, he has scored 48 goals across the age groups at Arsenal.

Chelsea fans will be forgiven for looking on with a sense of disappointment as Nketiah started his career at Stamford Bridge. He progressed through the ranks as a teen before being released by the club in 2015. Within two days, he was joining Arsenal. The quickness of the Gunners underlines how highly they thought of the teenager and he was understandably delighted:

“The day Arsenal showed they were interested in me was one of the happiest days I can remember.

“It wasn’t only because I’ve always been an Arsenal fan, but two days earlier I was told that I would be released by Chelsea and not given a scholarship for this season.”

It was important that Arsenal made their move quickly as the teenager would have been gutted after being released by Chelsea and a move to his boyhood club will have cushioned that disappointment. At a young age, a rejection like that can be brutal, but that wasn’t the case for Nketiah who bounced back quickly to join a massive club. To play for two of the top clubs in England by the age of 16 clearly shows the potential that the forward has.

His performances for the youth teams will have earned him a good reputation at the club and his goal-scoring ability earned him a spot on the recent pre-season tour. It is beneficial for young players to gain exposure like that and train with the first-team. Nketiah has obviously made an impression and his two goals against Norwich will likely lead to further opportunities with the first-team.

Should Arsenal fans be excited?

It is too early to overhype Nketiah as it is only one game, but it has been a long time since Arsenal had a young striker make an impression for the first-team. There have been several to be hyped, including Benik Afobe and Chuba Akpom, but none of them have managed to take their opportunity when it was presented to them.

Young players don’t get many opportunities and it is crucial that they impress when they are given a chance. Nketiah came on in a difficult situation and delivered a match-winning performance with two goals. It was evident that he is a confident player with a natural eye for goal coupled with a physicality to cope with first-team football.

Arsenal have some great options in attack, which means there is no need to rush Nketiah. However, his performance against Norwich will earn him more opportunities in the cups. The Europa League is a great platform to blood young talent. Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane both made their name in the competition. The teenage striker at the Emirates Stadium will be hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Arsenal

Criticism of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson unfair? stats suggest he’s England’s best option

The midfielder came under scrutiny for his latest performance.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time header ensured England started the tournament with maximum points, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of points in Volograd.

A promising opening 20 minutes was encored by ponderous and slow football in the second half, after the team began looking seemingly affected by Tunisia’s equaliser.

The additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added impetus and purpose to the attack late on.

But prior to that, England struggled in pursuit of a second, and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson came under fire for what was deemed to be a lack of creativity.

Photo: Getty Images

Many fans were questioning the omission of Jack Wilshere from England duties, as Gareth Southgate opted for the Liverpool man as the regular in central midfield. But last season’s statistics show some maybe being preemptive in wanting to replace the 28-year-old this World Cup.

Squawka stats (below) show that the Liverpool man was superior to both Eric Dier and Jack Wilshere in all aspects of midfield play in the Premier League last term, suggesting he could very well be the right man to continue starting for the Three Lions.

The former Sunderland man bested his two counterparts for number of forward passes, average pass length, key passes, tackles won, aerial duels won and chances created (all per 90 minutes), which sheds some light on why he’s a regular in Southgate’s team.

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Arsenal

Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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Arsenal

Crystal Palace fans thrilled with reports of Jack Wilshere interest

Crystal Palace fans are keen on the reported deal.

Jamie Watts

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Crystal Palace are keen on landing long-serving Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, if the 26-year-old leaves the Emirates this summer, according to reports from Evening Standard.

A move to Selhurst Park would reunite Wilshere with Roy Hodgson, his former England manager and a coach, whose belief in the Gunner is undeniable.

Hodgson displayed his admiration for the midfielder, after taking him the 2016 Euros despite him barely playing all season and he believes he could add the perfect balance to the Eagles’ midfield alongside enforcer Luka Milivojevic.

Photo: Getty Images

Wilshere was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account.

It now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Having improved his fitness, which has widely been considered his primary weakness, making 38 appearances in all competitions last season, Wilshere could become a serious asset at Selhurst Park, and fans have taken to Twitter to discuss the reports.

Here’s the reaction:

Yohan Cabaye’s situation is currently unresolved at Selhurst Park, with reports suggesting that the 32-year-old could potentially move to Ligue 1 giants Marseille this summer, and the Frenchman would need replacing.

Having joined in 2015 for £10 million from French champions Paris Saint Germain, the veteran midfielder played a key role in the Eagles relegation survival, acting as the catalyst for control and mobility in the centre of the park.

Photo: Getty Images

And Wilshere would play a similar role. His agility and vision are reminiscent of Cabaye, but he has far more left in the tank.

It is safe to say the Englishman would be a real coup for Hodgson at Palace this summer and the fans agree its a deal the club should make happen.

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