Jamie Redknapp knows exactly why Eddie Nketiah is prefered by Mikel Arteta as Arsenal’s central striker at present.
Nketiah has been given a run in the Arsenal side since returning early from a loan spell at Leeds. The England Under-21 striker started up top at Man City last Wednesday and got the nod again on Thursday at Southampton.
Arteta’s decision paid dividends too when the striker quickly closed down Saints keeper Alex McCarthy to gift him a simple tap-in.
Arsenal went on to win 2-0 and Redknapp believes Nketiah’s workrate is key. The Sky Sports pundit claims Nketiah’s hard-running gives him the edge over Aubameyang – who started on the left – and the benched Alexandre Lacazette.
He also sees similarities between his situation and Sergio Aguero under Pep Guardiola.
“Work from the front, [the willingness to] chase things down,” Redknapp said. “It took a little while for Aguero to buy into it. I don’t know if Aubameyang at this age will be that striker still, especially if he doesn’t want to be at the club and he wants to go.
“He thinks with Nketiah – he works hard for the team. It’s a midfielder’s dream, it’s a defender’s dream, when someone is just pickpocketing balls around the pitch and winning balls back. It’s fantastic.”
Redknapp added: “And he gets his reward. It’s not good goalkeeping, it’s not good from the defender as well.
“But a lot of strikers would just leave it, they wouldn’t bother chasing lost causes. He did it and deserved that goal for that reason.”
NKETIAH REFLECTS ON WELCOME ARSENAL WIN
Nketiah himself was delighted to get on the scoresheet and more importantly stop the rot after two defeats.
“It was a very important three points. Hopefully we can build on this and push forward,” Nketiah told Sky Sports.
“It was a difficult game, they came out strong in the second half. It was hard in the second half with the heat but the boys kept going and got lucky with the second.”
Asked about his opener and whether the tactic to close down McCarthy was planned, he added: “We work hard on the high press. I always try and give my all for the team and I sensed some hestitancy with their keeper.
“I’ve tried that about 100 times so it was nice for it to finally pay off.”
Nketiah continued: “The team all worked hard together and we were perhaps unlucky not to score a few more with the chances we created. It’s nice to get the three points.
“We’ve been working hard and needed to get this reward. We wanted to get them by any means necessary.”