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A few eyebrows were raised on Saturday when Mikel Arteta’s team was announced to face West Ham and he had, once again, opted for Eddie Nketiah ahead of Alexandre Lacazette and after the game, the Arsenal boss explained why.
Eddie Nketiah couldn’t get a start for Leeds. Despite scoring almost every time he played off the bench, Marcelo Bielsa wouldn’t trust him so Arsenal called him back with the intention of sending him out on loan somewhere else.
But once Arteta got a look at him up close in training he decided to keep the 20-year-old and in the space of two months he has gone from not being able to get in the Leeds Championship starting lineup to keeping Arsenal’s player of the season last year out of the Premier League side.
“I have two strikers at the moment that are making life difficult for me but at the same time it’s very good,” Arteta told the media after the win over West Ham. “They are both scoring, they are both in a good moment.
“I decided to play Eddie today for the type of defenders they had and the game plan we had but knowing that we needed Laca in the final moments (and) he was ready to do that.
“I saw it straight away the moment I was talking with him, giving him instructions on the touchline, he was alert, focused and I could see in his face he was really determined to come out there and score the goal like he did.”
Across all competitions this season (at all levels), Lacazette has nine goals and three assists in 26 games/1,793 minutes. Nketiah has eight and one in 26/1,093.
That being said, although Nketiah rarely got game time at Leeds, at least he didn’t have to play under Unai Emery who was allergic to attacking football.