Mikel Arteta hailed Eddie Nketiah as a “top-level” striker after the Arsenal academy graduate scored a brilliant first Premier League hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Sheffield United. Despite struggling at times during his career when leading the line, Nketiah has five league goals in 10 games this campaign – his joint-highest tally in any season in the top flight.
Replacing the injured Gabriel Jesus, Nketiah scored Arsenal’s first three against a woeful Sheffield United side, before substitutes Fábio Vieira and Takehiro Tomiyasu finished off proceedings with two late goals. It capped off a brilliant few weeks for Nketiah, who made his senior England debut when coming off the bench in a friendly against Australia this month.
Chelsea rocked as Bryan Mbeumo’s late strike seals Brentford victoryRead more
“I’m really happy for him, an academy player, to experience in the Premier League a hat-trick,” said Arteta. “He needs to enjoy the moment. He fully deserves it and hopefully there are many more to come. He’s got an eye for goal. You look at his stats from the last 10 years. What he’s done is remarkable. He needs minutes, opportunities and service. If he gets that, Eddie is going to score goals, that’s for sure.
“He’s a great player for Arsenal. He can be better, yes. And the best thing is the talent that he’s got, but especially his mentality is incredible. When he has that mentality with that talent, he’s going to get much better.”
Nketiah, who dedicated his hat-trick to his late aunt, said he was tempted to take the penalty that could have provided a fourth individual goal, but was happy to allow Vieira a share of the spoils. “My first instinct was to grab the ball and go, but Fábio won it and it was a good moment,” he said. “It’s all about being a team player. It was his time to get a chance and he tucked it away.”
Arteta also confirmed the club captain, Martin Ødegaard, an unused substitute, was given a rest after struggling with a recent niggle, understood to be a hip issue.
Sheffield United’s ninth defeat in 10 Premier League games leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table and firmly on course for an immediate return to the Championship.
Reports have suggested Paul Heckingbottom could soon lose his job, but the manager remained defiant as his side approach a period when they play relegation rivals Wolves, Bournemouth and Burnley in three of their next four games.
skip past newsletter promotion
Sign up to Football Daily
Free daily newsletter
Kick off your evenings with the Guardian’s take on the world of football
after newsletter promotion
“I’ll continue to do my best and continue to fight for this team,” he said. “All the noise, everything people say, whether there’s anything in it or not, who knows. As far as me doing the job, I’ve just got to ignore it.
“Our season is not going to be defined by a trip to the Emirates. Now we are coming into a little spell when we play a lot of the teams around us. These are big moments. These are the games we’ve got to really attack.”