With Gabriel Jesus out injured, Mikel Arteta now has an attacking problem with Arsenal.
Jesus is set to be out for a number of months and the Brazilian has been a revelation since making the move from Manchester City. Despite not being the most prolific goalscorer, his creativity and work rate in attack has been pivotal to the way Arsenal like to play.
Arteta is now left with a dilemma and must decide whether to bring in another attacker in January, or show faith in Eddie Nketiah.
Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside, former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore has said that Arteta should stick with Nketiah, but bring in some experienced competition.
“It’s very difficult because Eddie Nketiah is a young man who hasn’t learnt his trade yet, but he’s also a goalscorer. Arteta and the technical staff will have watched him train and an old-school approach would be to throw him in. Let’s give him those 6-12 games to see what he’s got, and I’m a big fan of that. If you look back at the history of great strikers, Alan Shearer was a 17-year-old at Southampton, they stick him in for his debut and he scores a hat-trick against Arsenal and didn’t look back. That can happen.
I think coaches are much less likely to do that these days for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s a huge marketplace for relatively cheap players if you have multi-millions coming into your club. Arsenal could go out and look to sign an international striker from a European club, and bring him in to compete with Nketiah. Arsenal could look to sign this sort of player, possibly towards the end of his career, but they are an experienced goalscorer. I think Arsenal will get someone in but maybe just a loan for the remainder of the season.
In terms of Nketiah, I would give him the opportunity. You’re in the dressing room, you’re in-house. They’ve done it with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, so why wouldn’t you want to try again? At this point, if it was me and he’s training hard and shown the desire, chuck him in for six full games. Not one or two and pull him out – put your arm round him and say ‘I believe in you’. Promote your own, Arsenal have done that with other players and let’s make it the hat trick by giving Nketiah the opportunity.”
Nketiah has worked with Arteta for a number of years now and understands what it takes to play for the club. He’s another academy graduate, similar to Saka, and has proven in spells that he has the capabilities to score goals for Arsenal.
Bringing in an experienced player to compete with Nketiah would be a smart move, but signing a superstar who may take time to adapt might not be worth the risk. Jesus will eventually be back and you’d expect him to instantly come into the team, so a short-term loan to push Nketiah might be Arteta’s ideal solution.