Expert Paul Merson has questioned Mikel Arteta’s decision to start Eddie Nketiah for Arsenal – but it absolutely paid off against Chelsea.
Arsenal were beaten 1-0 in Southampton on Saturday afternoon and produced another poor performance in the final third.
Arteta threw Nketiah into the starting lineup and deployed him as a lone striker with Alexander Lacazette through COVID.
Nketiah didn’t have much luck against the Saints and former Gunners ace Merson has questioned Arteta’s decision.
Talking to Sky SportsMerson admitted he “couldn’t believe” Arteta’s decision to throw Nketiah on the team.
Merson felt Nketiah had little chance of excelling given his recent lack of playing time. Even without Lacazette, Merson apparently didn’t feel like Nketiah should start.
“It’s an extremely difficult decision. I couldn’t believe he approached Eddie Nketiah in Southampton,” Merson said. “He’s barely played and he’s thrown into a game you absolutely have to win. What chance does he really have?” he added.
Nketiah pays dividends for Arsenal
Merson might not have liked Arteta’s decision with Nketiah, but it certainly paid off against Chelsea.
Even with Lacazette back in the squad, Arteta left for Chelsea on Wednesday night with Nketiah as his forward.
Nketiah scored not just once, but twice against Chelsea, returning to pursue his former club with a key combination.
Arsenal secured a superb 4-2 win to get their Champions League chase back on track in west London.
Arteta had almost no choice but to start Nketiah against Southampton from the start. The lack of attacking options at Arsenal is alarming.
Against Chelsea, however, Arteta put his trust in Nketiah and what a decision it turned out to be.
However, you can understand Merson’s concerns. Nketiah has barely played lately and is expected to leave Arsenal as his contract expires this summer.
It’s not ideal to put your trust in a player who leaves him in a matter of months but Nketiah showed on Wednesday he can still score at Arsenal.
In other news, Everton are in talks to sign a ‘brilliant’ £42m teenager compared to Messi and Neymar
https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2022/04/21/arsenal-paul-merson-eddie-nketiah-mikel-arteta/ Paul Merson ‘couldn’t believe’ Arteta’s decision to sign the Arsenal player… but it’s really paid off now