Eddie Nketiah scored two very well-taken goals and assisted a third as the Arsenal u23s defeated Chelsea 3-1 on Monday night.
Nketiah has had his u23 season heavily disrupted by first-team call-ups this year, missing more games than he’s played for the youth side. Monday’s match against Chelsea was just his 10th Premier League 2 game of 2018/19, but he’s certainly making each fixture count at the moment.
On this occasion, the 19-year-old striker scored twice before setting up a third in a dominant half against a strong Chelsea side. The second goal was particularly impressive, as he pulled off a fantastic piece of skill before finding a clinical finish.
— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) April 15, 2019
For the u23s, recent results have been very positive, and they’re pushing for a second-place finish on the final day. Their late 2018 dip in form killed any hopes of defending the PL2 title, but they’ve certainly returned to their best since then.
For Nketiah, though, it’s clear something needs to change next season. In his 11 youth games in all competitions, he’s scored 10 goals and assisted three, but that’s only earned him 273 minutes for the first team.
The result is that he’s struggling to adapt to the physicality of first-team football, and he’s trying too hard to impress when he finally does get some minutes. It’s clear that the teenager is too good for u23 football, but he’s never going to make the step up to the Arsenal first team with another season like this.
The best thing for him would be a season-long loan, so he can test himself against senior players week after week and, hopefully, transfer his youth goalscoring record to first-team matches.
If Unai Emery is willing to give him regular opportunities in Danny Welbeck’s place, that would be a good option too. It seems unlikely though, given how this season has gone. We’ll see what happens this summer.