As someone who loves numbers, this past week had a smorgasbord of stats for me as an Arsenal fan. So what better to talk about than a stat…about stats! Yes, that’s right, between Saturday and Monday Arsenal experienced a hat-trick of hat-tricks. Aaron Ramsey scored his first career hat-trick, Mkhitaryan had 3 assists in the same game and Nketiah scored 3 goals against Everton’s U23s.
Touching on the youngster’s performance first, that makes it 9 goals and 2 assists for him in just 11 Premier League 2 appearances. Linking up really well with Nelson and Dasilva (including some spectacular solo work of his own), it’s no wonder that Wenger trusted Eddie enough to bring him on in that memorable Norwich match. Eddie has the pace, composure, and drive that’s been lacking from Arsenal’s youth products lately. Eddie deserves a place in the substitutes for at least the Europa League if not a few Premier League matches too. Looking ahead to next season, he’ll be 19 years old.
The problem is that Eddie’s had a taste of what it’s like to play for the first team, under the lights at the Emirates. It’s hard to keep someone with that much talent content with playing for the youth teams. Eddie may have been the obvious first-choice substitute striker with Giroud gone, Welbeck injured, and only Lacazette to compete with. But with Welbeck soon to return from injury and the introduction of Aubameyang, it’ll be hard to find space for him. Will he be given opportunities in the League Cup, FA Cup, and Europa/Champions League alongside more U23 play? Will Danny Welbeck be gone by September? Or does the club look to loan him out to a Championship or League One side with the promise of getting regular appearances?
No matter what happens though, we cannot let a youngster of his calibre look for a permanent move elsewhere like we just saw with McGuane, Chris Willock, and potentially Reine-Adelaide. He clearly has the potential to be a first-teamer in the coming years.
Rambo’s Return and Mkhitaryan Making His Mark
Ramsey’s official return from injury was against Swansea, but considering how dreadful of a match that was we’ll just brush it under the rug. Ramsey’s true return was this game. With new offensive toys to play with, Ramsey was back to his attacking ways, averaging a position even higher up the field than Iwobi and Mkhitaryan. With so much attacking talent I can see his off the ball runs becoming even more effective than they already are. Defences will be stretched trying to cover runs from both him and Aubameyang all while attempting to limit how much space Ozil and Mkhitaryan get.
Despite making appearances in only 69% of our league matches, he’s proved his worth with 6 goals and 6 assists. After a match like that, it’s hard to justify placing him on the bench. That means we’ll likely see Wilshere or Xhaka take a seat unless there’s a change in tactics.
One man who’ll definitely not be sitting on the bench any time soon is Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Despite pundits claiming he was Manchester United deadwood and past his best years, he became the first Gunner since Santi Cazorla in 2013 to get 3 assists in one game. I don’t have access to the most expansive or in-depth stats in the world so I’m not positive, but I’m also guessing he’s one of only a handful of players in the world to register that stat line in their debut for a club.
It seems like forever ago since I saw him play for Dortmund, but from what I saw in that game, he hasn’t let off the gas one bit. I was most surprised seeing him fight Everton players off the ball on defence. Several times I thought to myself, “good for Xhaka, getting back so far and helping out on defence” only to realize it was Mkhitaryan! The only thing I do want to caution readers with before getting too excited is that this was against Everton. The last time the Toffees beat us at home was in 1996. We’ve had the upper hand on them lately so the true test comes on Saturday in the North London Derby.