Some Arsenal supporters may not have known much about Eddie Nketiah when he emerged off the bench against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night but they certainly know all about him now following the youngster’s tremendous impact.
With two clinical finishes Nketiah underlined his potential and sent Arsenal into the quarter-finals of the competition, choruses of “Eddie, Eddie” ringing around Emirates Stadium.
It is an occasion that should be savoured, regardless of how Nketiah’s career turns out. It is something quite special for supporters to see a young player burst onto the scene and seize his opportunity.
There will now, of course, be a significant amount of hype about Nketiah and much more scrutiny of his performances, even at U23 level.
The good news is that Nketiah certainly possesses the correct mentality to cope with this situation.
A hard-working and focused individual, Nketiah has consistently impressed when progressing through the different age groups since joining from Chelsea and has continued to score with regularity regardless of the level he’s playing at.
Goalscoring is certainly the 18-year-old’s standout attribute but his overall game is also of a high standard. He has excellent tactical understanding, frequently making clever runs off the ball, and is capable of linking play effectively.
It seems likely that Nketiah, who impressed for Arsenal during pre-season, will continue to be eased in slowly to the first-team set-up in cup competitions this campaign, and he should feature in some capacity at home to Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League next week.
Prior to that Nketiah could be involved when Arsenal face Chelsea at U23 level tomorrow and enabling the youngster to step away from the limelight of first-team football could well be a positive after all the discussion about him in recent days.
Soon, though, he will be back involved in the squad and it will be interesting to see how Nketiah develops over the next couple of seasons as he becomes stronger physically and inevitably improves from training more regularly with the first-team.
There are, of course, examples of players such as Jay Simpson and Sanchez Watt, who were regulars on the scoresheet for Arsenal at youth level and also made an impact in the League Cup, only to ultimately fail to make the grade – Simpson is now playing for Philadelphia Union and Watt is without a club having been released by Crawley Town in the summer.
With Nketiah, there is a long way to go before any sort of decision has to be made about his long-term future.
For now, if he continues doing what he has always done, working hard and scoring goals, hopefully further opportunities will come in due course.