Eddie Nketiah may well have done enough in the FA Cup win over Portsmouth to keep his place when Arsenal host West Ham United in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Gunners are back in league action at the weekend at the Emirates Stadium following the 2-0 win in the cup against Kenny Jackett’s Pompey at Fratton Park to give them passage to the quarter-finals.
Young marksman Nketiah was on hand to nab the visitors’ second goal on the night after Papa Sokratis had made it 1-0 in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time.
Arteta has shown faith in the former Chelsea goal-getter and he may well do again when Arsenal go head to head with the Hammers in the upcoming top-flight encounter. It would mean that once again Alex Lacazette would make way when it comes to leading the line — and that in itself opens up the broader question of the future of the France forward in north London.
Lacazette did manage to get a goal in the 4-0 win over Newcastle United at home a couple of weeks back and followed that up with the only goal of the game in the 1-0 win in the Europa league victory over Olympiakos. But, ultimately, Arsenal went out of the competition with Lacazette firing blanks again. Prior to the goal against the Geordies he had gone nine games without a strike to his name.
Strikers have poor periods of form in front of goal, of course, but the doubts over whether or not Arteta is a fan of the former Lyon ace, 28, come thicker and faster when you compare the body language of the two strikers in question.
Lacazette seems heavy-footed, appears to labour in and around the box and generally exude an air of lethargy. In short, he seems off his game and, well, his goal record tells that story. On the other hand, Nketiah seems pin-sharp, keen as mustard and hungry to bag more and more goals.
An example of just how keen he is was showcased when he scored the goal at Portsmouth. His willingness to constantly make runs into the danger areas paid off handsomely when he got on the end of the tantalising cross from the excellent Reiss Nelson. His desire to bust a gut and make the final ball is to be admired and highlights his willingness. As potent as Lacazette has been in the past, it has to be said that this can no longer be expected of him; certainly, in his current mood and form anyway. Yes, that may change — but more and more fans and pundits seem to be agreeing that his time in the red and white may well be up in the summer. We shall see…