Mikel Arteta heaped praise on Eddie Nketiah after the striker seized his starting opportunity to help fire us to victory against Nottingham Forest.
Eddie bagged our first goal of the campaign to help us on our way to a 2-1 opening day victory at Emirates Stadium, and that delighted his manager who revealed he couldn’t leave him out following some determined displays off the bench and in training.
Mikel indicated that is exactly the hunger and team spirit he wants to see from all his players this campaign, which has thankfully begun with three points.
“Eddie sums up what we want this season in terms of the squad,” Mikel said. “He was a player who was really disappointed not to start against Manchester City in the absence of Gabby, but he had an incredible impact in the game against City and he trained this week like a beast.
“A lot of players ask: ‘why am I not playing?’, and the thing is that Eddie is telling you: ‘look at all the reasons I’m giving you to play me’. When you play him, after you know you’re going to have that response because he’s not looking for excuses or anything, he’s looking at his own performance and what he can do for the team. This is the example that everyone has to look at.”
Eddie’s strike was followed by a blockbuster from Bukayo Saka to put us in the driving seat, however Taiwo Awoniyi’s late strike meant that the final proceedings were a little more tense than needed to be.
But despite that, Mikel was delighted to claim the maximum haul of points and was pleased with the way we bossed proceedings throughout as we got the 2023/24 campaign up and running in the perfect fashion.
“It’s always very difficult to win the first game, there’s something special with it,” he added. “You want to start well and we’ve done it, and I think we’ve done it in a really convincing way, even though at the end, because of that goal we conceded, we made it a little bit harder than we should have for ourselves.
“We were super dominant and created quite a lot of chances and we didn’t give them anything and that’s what we have to do, especially when teams want to come here and have a really low block and be really well set up.
“We found two ways to score, and after that we should have killed the game earlier so we don’t give any hope to the opponent, and that’s the next step.”
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