Eddie Nketiah is relishing the prospect of starting the new season as Arsenal’s main striker and insists manager Mikel Arteta knows he can deliver the goods.
England’s record goalscorer at Under-21 level is likely to lead the line for the Gunners when the campaign gets under way after fellow forward Gabriel Jesus was ruled out.
Jesus recently underwent a minor operation on a knee issue he has had since picking up an injury while with Brazil at the 2022 World Cup.
The initial surgery sidelined him for three months but Nketiah stepped up in his absence and hit six goals in six games when domestic football returned.
His goals helped keep Arsenal at the top of the Premier League until Jesus’ return and he is ready to repeat the feat.
“I don’t think I’m here to fill in for anyone. I’m here to play and contribute to the team,” he said after captaining Arsenal and scoring in a 1-1 Emirates Cup draw with Monaco on Wednesday night.
“Obviously, I believe in my abilities and I know I can contribute. The manager has got a tough decision and whenever he calls me, he knows I can deliver and I can help the team, so it’s just about us all collectively playing our part to to achieve our goals.
“I just really enjoyed it and was able to improve myself, test myself, I played some really big games and I was able to help.
“So that’s what it is about, obviously playing at the highest level, competing for trophies and that’s what I want to do.
“I pride myself on always being ready and whatever role the manager needs me – I will always make sure I do my best and to the best of my ability so I can help the team – that’s what it’s all about.”
Despite hitting a purple patch when he first came into the team after the World Cup, Nketiah has not scored a competitive goal since his last-gasp winner against Manchester United on January 22, a run of 14 games and nearly 10 hours without finding the back of the net.
Nketiah insists he’s ready to step up
The 24-year-old, however, is ready for the pressure of starting the season as the man up top for Arteta’s side.
Asked if he was relishing the challenge amid added expectation on the whole team, Nketiah replied: “Yes, of course. It’s what we play football for.
“We train hard every day to get the opportunity to play at the weekend. So not just myself, there’s many players that can obviously play in that position.
“So we’re all ready, we’re all good players, we’re all able to contribute at different points in the season, everyone’s going to have different roles. So it’s just about being ready and contribute and hopefully I can do that throughout the season.”
Arsenal’s Premier League title tilt gets under way at home to Nottingham Forest next weekend but, before then, Nketiah is aiming for Community Shield success against last season’s treble winners Manchester City.
“We want do well, we want to go out there and win the trophy, that’s what it’s about,” he added.
“So we will be working hard throughout the week and we’ve had a good game against Monaco, so hopefully that can put us in good stead, make sure we compete and hopefully we can get a trophy on Sunday.”