Things haven’t gone too bad for Eddie Nketiah since he left Leeds in January.
He returned to the Emirates with a new manager, Mikel Arteta, in the dugout and finished the season with 17 first-team games and an FA Cup winners’ medal. This season, he has delivered on his promise by playing 14 times – the only Arsenal player to have played in every game.
Nketiah, only 21, is slowly moving forward, but his quality is clear. In October, he broke Alan Shearer’s record of becoming the all-time greatest goalscorer for England U21, after scoring his 14th goal in 12 games.
Eddie Nketiah has made his way into Mikel Arteta’s plans since returning to Arsenal in January
The striker struggled for playing time during his loan spell at Leeds, which was cut short
The attacker seems to have the world at his feet. It is therefore difficult to understand why things went so wrong on Elland Road.
A player with Nketiah’s skill, pace and eye for goal should have thrived in a Marcelo Bielsa team, but he was never able to secure a place in the base group. It was his lack of playing time that prompted Arsenal to cancel his loan mid-season.
Nketiah’s spell in West Yorkshire started well enough. He scored on his Carabao Cup debut against Salford and followed that up by coming off the bench to take the winner in a 1-0 win over Brentford.
He scored two more goals in his next four games, despite being limited to substitute appearances.
With Bielsa reluctant to drop Patrick Bamford, Nketiah didn’t get his first league start until December – when Bamford wasn’t available.
He started the next game against West Brom, but that would be his last game for the club.
Marcelo Bielsa was reluctant to drop Patrick Bamford while Nketiah was in Leeds last season
Although Bamford has made a thrilling start to the current Premier League season with seven goals in eight games, he did not regularly find the net in the first half of the 2019-2020 season. He played 10 goals without a goal from August to November, but it didn’t lead to Bielsa dropping him.
When asked why Nketiah seemingly didn’t get a look, Bielsa seemed to suggest it was a problem with his attitude and work pace.
‘Big teams, like Arsenal, have a lot of players who can win one match with one game. This is normal, Nketiah developed in this school, ”he said.
And he has all the resources and skills to solve the needs of scoring one goal. But we have to increase the probability of goal. And we cannot build the odds if we don’t have a structure within all players to create the odds.
‘Nketiah is very good at scoring, including Bamford. But Bamford lacks opportunities. There is a fact about what happens before you score a goal. You build up a situation that gives the opportunity.
“What I want to achieve is for Eddie to feel the needs of the team. If he doesn’t use the meters for both things, he has fewer chances to score. ‘
The attacker made a strong start but only started his first league game in December
EDDIE NKETIAH FOR LEEDS UNITED
Spell – 22
Begins – 4
Goals – 5
Bielsa is known for its intensive training methods and high demands. The players who play for him must be incredibly fit and physically strong.
Nketiah hailed from an Arsenal team led by Unai Emery. He doesn’t have the same reputation for drilling his sides as Bielsa.
However, Bamford was familiar with the expectations of his manager who worked with him the previous season.
It’s fair to suggest that Nketiah probably wasn’t used to the Argentinian’s demands.
In November he sustained an injury that ruled him out for the rest of the month, possibly as a result of intensive training.
When recalled by Arsenal, Nketiah had started just two league games.
Despite not playing him regularly, Bielsa was disappointed when the striker left Elland Road, but said no player could guarantee playing time.
Bielsa suggested Nketiah should work harder for the team, but Arteta has since praised the forward for his work ethic on the training ground for Arsenal.
“It is a shame for us that he is leaving us because we were happy with him,” said Bielsa in January.
‘I don’t know why Arsenal decided that Eddie won’t continue with us, but if the reason is that he wasn’t playing enough, then no one can guarantee a player the number of minutes he will have and no one can say that. for one player he will have no competition in the position. ‘
Nketiah may not have had as many minutes as he wanted, but his loan at Leeds has had its advantages. Arteta has implemented a similar urgent style on Bielsa’s side since he arrived at the Emirates, so when Nketiah returned he was at least familiar with those tactics, which made the transition easier.
The forward also returned to Arsenal as a fitter and determined player and it appears that Bielsa’s comments about him working harder for the team have had an impact.
Speaking about Nketiah in October, Arteta praised his work ethic and standards during training.
Nketiah is the only Arsenal player to appear in all 14 games this season and has scored three goals
“I always have no doubts about him because of the way he trains and performs,” said the Gunners boss.
His goal record keeps getting better and better every week.
“He is evolving in the right way and this is what we need, players who will challenge and knock on the door to become starters for us.”
There is no doubt that Nketiah will have a point to prove when he returns to Leeds on Sunday.
And there is every chance he will get a start with Alexandre Lacazette in shape. Arteta will also know that he will be desperate to show Bielsa how much he has improved in the past 12 months.