Nketiah makes the difference for Arsenal as Arteta urges him to win a starting place
worst that can be said about Arsenal’s performance against West Ham was that, for long periods, they played like Unai Emery’s team again. The latter stages of Emery’s reign were defined by vulnerability to the counter-attack and a stodginess in possession, and those problems resurfaced against a well-drilled West Ham side.
The big difference, though, was that Arsenal still found a way to win. This was never a match in which they would have taken three points under Emery, but with Mikel Arteta at the helm there is a greater belief around the club and in the players.
It helped Arteta’s cause that he had Eddie Nketiah to call upon. Nketiah was on loan for the final few months of Emery’s reign, with Arsenal lacking a predator on the bench. The young Englishman is nothing if not an old-school poacher and his winner here was further evidence of his natural goalscoring ability.
“I do a lot of work trying to be in the right positions,” Nketiah said. “It was a nice pass from Dani Ceballos and it was a good finish from me.”
With a willingness to run in behind and an ability to find space in the penalty area, Nketiah has the attributes to be a useful impact substitute. But Arteta does not want him to be limited to such a role – Arsenal’s manager sees Nketiah as an option to start instead of Alexandre Lacazette, who also scored on Saturday.
Asked about Nketiah’s knack of finding goalscoring positions, Arteta said: “It is a natural ability that he has. He has the intuition and then obviously he is able to put the ball in the net.
I am delighted with him.
Natural: Eddie Nketiah scored Arsenal’s winner
He is someone in the box who is a real danger and we have to use him.” The ferocity of Arteta’s celebration at the end was proof of how difficult a night it was for Arsenal, who struggled to contain West Ham goalscorer Michail Antonio. Momentum is with the Spaniard’s side, who are still riding the high of their FA Cup victory last season. “Everyone is buzzing and we’ve had a taste of success and we’re hungry for more,” Nketiah said. “It’s been a great start.”
There were plenty of positives for David
Moyes to take from his side’s performance, although the defensive lapse at the end was another reminder of why they are in the market for a new defender.
“Ultimately I would like to sign three or four players, but I totally understand we are not in a financial position to do so,” Moyes said.
West Ham’s frustration was made worse by refereeing decisions, with Moyes saying Arsenal should have been punished for a handball in the box by defender Gabriel Magalhaes.
“The hardest part is that we never get any clarity in the reports,” Moyes said. “When we get the results back, very rarely have the referees or Var made any mistakes.”