Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s faith in Eddie Nketiah is growing “every single day” as the striker prepares for what could be a lengthy spell leading the line.
The Premier League leaders return to action against West Ham on Boxing Day without Gabriel Jesus, who suffered a knee injury during Brazil’s World Cup campaign and has undergone surgery – with reports he could face three months out.
Nketiah now stands as the only senior recognised striker within Arteta’s ranks, with speculation that the Gunners could look to add recruits in the January window to increase their depth in this area.
A strong finish to last season saw Nketiah score five goals in seven Premier League matches, earning himself a new contract in the process, but he is yet to score in the league this season – though his 12 appearances have all been as a substitute.
A record of three goals in 19 appearances in all competitions leaves plenty of room for improvement, but Arteta is confident he can fill the void left by Jesus’ injury.
“I have more faith in him every single day, because we see every day what he brings to the team, how he is as a human, how he’s developing as a player,” Arteta said in the pre-match press conference.
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“We already got some great response last year when we needed him. He plays really well with the team. He’s ready – that’s why he signed that contract.
“He’s a key player in our squad and he’s going to have chances to play.”
Having fallen shy of a return to Champions League football last term, Arsenal have come out of the blocks flying this season to lead the Premier League and have lost just one of 14 matches to hold a five-point lead ahead of the restart.
Arteta has made it clear there is still work to do, though, adding: “The hardest thing to do is to win, and then to win again, and then to win again. There’s a lot still to do there, for sure.”
Arsenal travel to Brighton and Hove Albion after the London derby against West Ham to finish 2022, then begin the new year at home to Newcastle United.