Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has explained why he gave Eddie Nketiah the nod up front for Saturday’s win over Nottingham Forest.
The striker did not start for the Gunners in the Community Shield win over Manchester City last Sunday, with Kai Havertz starting up top instead. But Arteta put the 24-year-old in from the off for their first Premier League game.
The decision paid off for the Arsenal boss as the striker scored the team’s opening goal of the season on their way to three points.
“It’s always difficult to win the first game of the season,” Arteta told TNT Sport. “We deserved to be in front but we didn’t kill the game. And 2-0 in the Premier League is a dangerous scoreline and we had a lack of concentration, conceded a goal, and so it is game on.
“You cannot give teams anything and we gave them hope. Then the feeling is we want the game to end and take the three points.
“Eddie Nketiah was very disappointed he did not start [the Community Shield] against Manchester City but came on and had a huge impact, trained like a beast this week, telling me ‘I have to play’. So I had to play him. A great example.”
Arsenal took the lead through Nketiah, who was standing in for the injured Gabriel Jesus. Minutes later Bukayo Saka doubled the host’s lead with a terrific strike from outside the area.
The north London outfit were cruising to victory over Steve Cooper’s side until Taiwo Awoniyi bagged a goal with eight minutes remaining on the clock. It made for a very nervy end to the game as Forest pushed for an equaliser, but Arsenal managed to hold on for their first three points of the season.