Eddie Nketiah loves the Carabao Cup. Our young striker scored the third goal in our 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon in the third round, and was again on target in the fourth round win over his former loan club Leeds United.
Tuesday's treble against Sunderland took his overall tally in the competition to eight in seven appearances - including his first-ever strikes for the first team, the memorable double against Norwich on his home debut back in 2017.
Eddie spoke to the matchday programme before Tuesday's game, to discuss his scoring record in the Carabao Cup, his goal against Leeds in the previous round, and how he works on his reputation as a goal poacher.
Firstly Eddie, talk us through your goal against Leeds in the last round. The ball only just about crept over the line in the end!
Yeah, well first I anticipated the pass and then I think my first touch was really good as was the second touch to bring it back in. But then for the finish, it just sort of bobbled up for me for a second. To be honest, because I was so close I was probably already thinking about the celebration! Then it bobbled up, so in the end it wasn't the cleanest finish, but I'd already done the hard work so it was too close to miss. But yeah it was a good goal all round and was really nice to score again.
You must have been relieved to see it go in, did you think it wasn't going in when you hit it?
No, not really. I knew it wasn't a great connection, it bobbled up which took me by surprise a bit, but obviously my second touch was good enough to put me in a position where any touch would mean a goal because I was so close. Watching it back I was laughing about how it went in, but I'd rather look at the first two touches that made the goal!
You have scored 15 goals for the first team now, and the average distance you have scored from is six yards. Are your poaching skills something you work on in training, or is it more instinctive?
I just think that for any good centre forward, most of your goals will come from inside the box. That's where you ply your trade as a striker. Obviously you will get the odd one from further out but most of the goals are scored in the box and I obviously work hard on my positioning. People might think it's easy to score from close range, but you have to get into the positions. You might make that run ten times, but you have to keep making that 11th run to score. It's a mixture - it's something I work on but also part of it comes naturally I think. From a young age I've always got goals and been in those positions on the pitch.
You have scored plenty of long-range goals for the youth teams, and England Under-21s as well of course, but does the manager tell you to get higher up the pitch for the first team?
Well the way we are playing now, we get plenty of crosses into the box. As a striker we need to be in those areas. You might not get as much space and time that close to the goal but we train a lot on that and I obviously speak a lot to the coaches about it as well. The majority of your goals are going to be in the box - if you check the stats for any striker you will see that - so you have to work hard to be in those dangerous areas when the crosses come in. You have to stay on the move, stay alert because at the end of the day, that's the danger zone.
You have got an excellent record in the Carabao Cup - it's a competition you seem to enjoy…
Yeah, I made my home debut in this cup and it's a competition where the club give younger players coming through a lot of opportunities to play. So it's probably one of the main competitions where I've had a consecutive run of matches and starts, and it always helps if you can take those opportunities to score. As a striker I'm pleased to get that chance to play and I want to carry on taking those chances. I've got good memories in this cup so hopefully I can be involved again against Sunderland and help the team progress to the semi-finals.
Is it even more of an important competition this season, given there is no European football?
Yes definitely. We are Arsenal Football Club so every competition is one we want to complete in and try to win. But yes without European football this season, the games don't come around as quickly, so all of us - when we get an opportunity to play - we are all eager and hungry to make sure we show our worth and try to make the difference. I think we have all done that so far.
What would it mean to you to get back to Wembley, this time with fans in the stadium?
A lot. It's great to have played in the FA Cup final, and won it, then I started in the Community Shield and we won that too. Those are great experiences that I hold dear to me, and it would be nice to create some more memories this season at Wembley. It will be a totally different and better experience if there are fans there as well. I've been there before as a fan in a full Wembley, but never played there with fans in the stadium, so that's something I really want to do, and hopefully it can be this season. It was great to be there as a fan, so I can imagine how good it would be to play there in front of our supporters.
This article first appeared in the matchday programme, which can be purchased here: https://programme.arsenal.com/
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