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Paul Merson admits he's totally changed his mind about Arsenal 23-year-old
Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Paul Merson admits he's totally changed his mind about Arsenal 23-year-old

Paul Merson says Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has completely proved him wrong since coming in to deputise for Gabriel Jesus.

Jesus has not played since undergoing surgery on an injury he picked up at the World Cup, but Nketiah has performed admirably in his absence.

Merson said before the resumption of the season that Nketiah was not even good enough to play for Wolves, who were bottom of the table at the time.

Now, he has told Sky Sports he got it wrong about the 23-year-old, who scored that dramatic late winner over Manchester United on Sunday.

Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Merson on Nketiah

Merson said: “I thought Eddie Nketiah would do a job for three, four, five games. I didn’t think he’d do it over this amount of games. I like him as a goalscorer.

“I played with and against Gary Lineker, when the ball used to hit the post, he’d tap it in, and people would say, ‘oh, that was easy’. But no one else was there, pushing him out the way to score.

“That’s the thing with Nketiah.He scored at Brighton the other week, and there was no way (Gabriel) Jesus was scoring that. He scored again on Sunday when there was no way Jesus was scoring that. He’s been outstanding.

“He’s lively and he’s been very good outside the box. He’s scored big goals at big times. But when you’ve got those players behind you, you’ve got every chance of scoring goals. They’re completely and utterly on top of their games.”

Arsenal got Nketiah to sign a new deal in the summer and that was a show of faith in him. Then, he was just waiting for an opportunity.

It finally came his way this winter and he has grabbed it with both hands to keep Arsenal’s title bid motoring with 50 points at the halfway stage.

Merson’s initial criticism of Nketiah felt harsh even at the time, but he did also make the point that the Englishman needs to do it over a number of games.

No complaints on that score so far, but he needs to carry it on now until Jesus is back, and even then, he needs to be a hugely dangerous alternative to the Brazilian going forwards.

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