Premier League • England

Nketiah savours ‘special’ brace against Chelsea for Arsenal in bid to prove himself

Eddie Nketiah celebrates scoring for Arsenal

Eddie Nketiah tried to shift the focus away from himself despite admitting he had a point to prove when Arsenal beat Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Arsenal got their pursuit of a top-four finish back on track with a 4-2 win over their rivals at Stamford Bridge. Nketiah scored Arsenal’s opening goal and also the one that put them 3-2 up, before they went on to strengthen their grip on the three points.

It came just a few days after Nketiah cast further doubt on his club future. His contract at Arsenal expires at the end of the season and he has questioned his lack of starts compared to players elsewhere of the same age.

Mikel Arteta responded by slotting Nketiah into the starting lineup for just the second time in the Premier League this season. Consequently, he got his first two goals in the 2021-22 edition of the competition.

What it means for his long-term future is unclear. In the immediate present, though, Nketiah was glad to be able to inflict damage upon another club that let him go earlier in his career.

The centre-forward was in Chelsea’s academy until 2015, before he was picked up by Arsenal. Although he didn’t want the focus to be on him, he said it was special to be able to sink his old club.

He told Sky Sports: “I think it makes that bit more special. I was here up until under-14s and then got let go. So you always have that chip on your shoulder to come and prove yourself.

“But today isn’t about me. It is good I got two goals, but it is about the team and bouncing back.”

Nketiah enthuses about Arsenal response

Thanks to Arsenal’s win, they are now level on points with Tottenham Hotspur in fourth. However, an inferior goal difference is keeping them out of the Champions League spots at present.

But with each north London club having six games left, it’s all to play for. Nketiah is hoping Arsenal, after ending a run of three consecutive defeats, can take some momentum into the final weeks.

He added: “I think it gives us confidence. We’ve all stuck together through the difficult times. We’ve showed that we can bounce back from setbacks.

“Today is a great result. It is always nice winning a derby and we’re just looking to push on and hopefully keep getting three points to climb up the table.”

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