Gary Neville has conceded that he has been surprised by how impressive Eddie Nketiah has been for Arsenal this campaign.
Nketiah has scored nine goals in 27 games across all competitions for the Gunners so far this season. He has stepped into the boots of Gabriel Jesus since the Brazilian picked up an injury at the World Cup.
Seven of his goals have come in the last nine games since the season restarted, with his impact up front helping Arsenal maintain momentum at the top of the Premier League. His high point came when he scored a brace in Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Manchester United last month.
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Nketiah has been used mainly as a back-up striker during his time at the Emirates and Neville conceded that he had underestimated him.
Asked which Premier League player had surprised the most this campaign, Neville told The Overlap: ”I’m going to go [for] Nketiah. I thought when Jesus got injured, I thought that could be a problem. I think he’s played really well for Arsenal.”
Neville is not alone in being surprised by the impact Nketiah has had. Fellow pundit Chris Sutton also said similar thing last month, saying he had “proved me and plenty of others wrong” by grabbing his chance “with both hands”.
Nketiah’s two goals against United did earn praise from Roy Keane who compared him to Ian Wright. “He reminds me in his movement and even his interviews – and I’m gonna put him under huge pressure here – of Ian Wright,” he said on Sky Sports.
“Like he used to do, not getting many touches but that sharpness in the box, which we see as well for the winning goal. If you’re hanging around the box and you’re a sharp striker, you’ll get your chances and your goals.”
Nketiah’s form has been so consistent recently that Jesus might not get his place back in the team once he’s fit. Jesus has returned to Arsenal’s training ground, but he is still some way off returning to the pitch.