Morning folks and welcome to another saturday, sadly one without The Arsenal, but at least we can pour over some Arsenal-related news. That’s because Eddie Nketiah bagged himself another goal yesterday for the Under-21 England team against Turkey and I must tell you, despite the fact they are all poachers goals and tap ins, this is starting to look like a good time for the young striker.
We all hope this move to Leeds works out well for him and eat least it’s started in the right vein. He’s got four goals already for all teams in all competitions and when you’re a striker getting goals, you’re at your happiest, so I’m expecting our young loanee to be full of confidence and spring in his step right now.
And that is really important at such a young and formative age as a professional footballer. Last season he didn’t really get much of a look in with Auba and Laca banging in goals and staying fit throughout and when you’re 18/19 you need to be getting game time to help your development. He’s a player who, I must admit, I had massive reservations as to whether he’d ever play for The Arsenal with any regularity and whilst I still harbour those doubts until we see it happening in a red and white shirt, that doesn’t mean I can’t project as a fan, hoping for the best and that we see him come back to us next summer as a more rounded player ready to take over from one of our current brilliant centre forwards.
This needs to be maintained though. He needs to be doing it by the time January comes around and I think as fans we obviously need to temper the hype by ensuring we manage our own expectations. We’ve seen it for decades: the Premier League and Championship are very different in terms of quality, but not only that, so is the Under-21s and senior international football. Just look at Kristin Bielik. He was a star of the Under-21s tournament in the summer and whilst it earned him a move, it wasn’t to a Premier League club, but to Derby. He may well get promoted with Derby and then be a Premier League player next season or a season afterwards, but it is telling that Premier League clubs weren’t in for him this summer when we knew he was available after some of his comments. So to bring it back to Eddie, let’s be excited, but not go too far over the top.
Right now we have our own senior attacking trio to excite us, although Pepe returning home from Ivory Coast duty gave us all a bit of a fright, didn’t it? Thankfully despite the Ivory Coast FA stating that it was an injury that sent him back, we have multiple decent sources claiming that it was precautionary, which we have to cross our fingers in hope that it’s the truth. Pepe has had patches of brilliance and looked very good in most of the minutes he’s played this season but as Unai Emery has already stated he’s not had a proper pre season.
It’s really difficult to understand as somebody who has never played football at a decent level, just how important that pre season is to a player, but in recent year’s we’ve seen players like Aaron Ramsey take quite some time to get into his stride before hitting his physical peak and as my ol’ mate Dave Seager has repeatedly said he is a player that we always needed him to be 100% fit to see the best. Some players can get by on being 80% fit and still look good but Ramsey always needed his engine purring for him to be the best. In Pepe we’ve seen flashes of a very good player who can beat players and worries them for their pace, but his killer instinct hasn’t been there. We’ve all agreed he needs a goal to get himself up and running, but he probably also needs full fitness too, so heading back to London Colney to get himself ready for that Watford game in just over a week is probably a good idea. He can get back in to familiar surroundings, get more minutes on the training pitch with those players not away on international duty, then get himself fully focused for what will undoubtedly be a tough and physical game against the Hornets next Sunday.
It’s nice to see an FA reacting sensibly to a players needs too. Often these FAs will just run a player in to the ground and then hand back the broken pieces to clubs, knowing that they aren’t playing for another two months so it doesn’t really matter if the player is out for three weeks. But in this instance it appears common sense has prevailed.
And we can only hope that is to our benefit next weekend.
Catch you all tomorrow.