Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta heaped praise on a star the Gunners could’ve sold over the summer, and urged caution over youngster Charlie Patino.
Arsenal cruised into the fourth round of the EFL Cup with a 3-0 victory over Wimbledon. Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring after 11 minutes from the penalty spot.
That set the Gunners on their way, with substitute Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah notching in the second half to guarantee their progress. Their reward is a fourth round tie with Leeds Utd at the Emirates.
“We haven’t been able to play him a lot. We wanted to play him play him, but we had some injuries through the game and we cannot use him. But today he scored a goal and he worked hard again.”
On whether playing Thomas Partey was a risk given his injury record since joining the Gunners, Arteta said: “We didn’t think so, so that’s why we made the decision to play him.
“There’s always a risk when you play a match or when you have a training session. We believed it was the right thing to do and he was really pushing for it. I think it worked out well.”
Regarding Bukayo Saka who shone after coming on off the bench, Arteta insisted he had an ulterior motive for making the change.
“He needed to play some minutes to get some match fitness and again I think when we brought him on he looked really strong,” added Arteta.
Fans were filled with a slight sense of disappointment when rising starlet Charlie Patino was not named in the matchday squad.
Explaining the decision, the Arsenal boss said: “Charlie’s been good. He played a practice match at Colney and he was really good. Again, give him time and we will prepare him.”
On hosting Leeds in the fourth round, Arteta said: “We know how tough it’s going to be. Big match.”
Arteta lauds ultra-professional Arsenal star
Nketiah took a rare opportunity when scoring in the second half. It was an increasingly rare appearance for the forward after persistent links with a move away over the summer that failed to yield a breakthrough.
Nonetheless, Arteta heaped praise on Nketiah for the way in which he has kept his head in the game.
“Eddie is a lesson every day on how a professional should be in his job in the circumstances,” said Arteta.
“There has been a lot of speculation around him. He puts his head down, he trains harder than everybody else. He supports every teammate no matter the circumstances.
“So, I am so happy for him that could perform at that level and physically how he managed that game because he trains like the best every day. So I am delighted for him.”