Eddie Nketiah probably couldn’t believe his luck five minutes into Arsenal’s clash with Leeds United on Sunday, taking advantage of Illan Meslier’s early gaffe to put the home side 1-0 up.
After watching Chelsea manage to drop two points against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur pick a creditable one at Liverpool on Saturday, a quick start – cliche it seems – was what Mikel Arteta’s side needed.
Nketiah’s recognition of a profitable situation and his willingness to act made it possible to achieve the goal.
A closer look at his opener shows the striker was already on his toes before Luke Ayling made the pass to his goalkeeper, and the Leeds skipper’s decision prompted the Arsenal striker to harass the French goalkeeper.
This strike was a credit to the centre-forward’s tendency to chase lost causes and Sunday’s strike was not unique.
Nketiah has scored four Premier League goals since taking over from Alexander Lacazette in Arteta’s Southampton XI, three of them following opposition errors.
His first of two at Chelsea materialized after Andreas Christensen made a mess of a simple back pass and Sunday’s effort due to his harassment of Meslier.
The striker’s second in that 4-2 success at Stamford Bridge came after the ball bounced off Blues defenders who struggled to clear their lines and the Arsenal man finished with aplomb.
Whether it’s a pattern with the in-form leader is anyone’s guess, but signs suggest Spurs need to be wary of the 22-year-old, who added goals to an attack that demanded a centre-forward to score after. Rock. -The departure of Emerick Aubameyang and the difficulties of Alexandre Lacazette in this respect.
While the Frenchman’s pressing, linking up and combination play have allowed Arteta’s wide forwards to flourish, Nketiah has the goals needed, finding the back of the net four times in five successive starts. For context, that’s as much as the 30-year-old has managed in 20 starts.
It remains to be seen whether the ongoing run in the team convinces the young striker to renew his contract which expires this summer, but the promise of Champions League football at a club next season could influence the player’s decision to 22 years old.
“It’s amazing to be involved. Any player just wants to play and seize the opportunities,” Nketiah said. sky sports after Sunday’s double against Jesse Marsch. “I worked hard throughout the season to make sure I was ready when I had my chance.
“[It is] I thank my teammates for helping me play and do well. I’m just happy in the team.
Arsenal have their fate in their hands with three games remaining, a situation they would have taken at the start of the season.
They have recovered from three straight defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton (four defeats in five if you consider matches in mid-March) to rack up four wins in a row ahead of Thursday’s clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Recent history favors Antonio Conte’s side, who are unbeaten in the last seven corresponding matches, claiming five wins in that span.
It has prevented the Gunners from completing the double over their fierce rivals since 2013/14, with Spurs claiming three points in the past two seasons and another Thursday seeing the home side equal a record first set in 1961.
Nketiah is undoubtedly feeling the Gooners’ love and delivering a decisive blow to the Lilywhites’ European dream will draw even more enthusiastic praise.