Arsenal‘s strength in depth was in full display on Thursday night as they impressed in their Europa League clash against Bodo/Glimt at the Emirates Stadium. The Norwegian team are no stranger to European upsets, having beaten the likes of AS Roma 6-1 last season, but came against an imperious home side in the first half.
That was all while Mikel Arteta made eight changes to his starting team that played against Tottenham in the North London Derby last time out. Some stars who are struggling for minutes in the Premier League made appearances, with the likes of Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney all named to start.
Amongst those starting was striker Eddie Nketiah, who is trying to impress to earn more minutes since signing his new contract in the summer. “As a player everyone wants to play football,” he said in a press conference ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League group stage clash. “My aim is to be starting and helping the team, but I respect the coach’s decision.
“It’s down to me keep working hard and putting in the performances. It’s a long season and we’re only a month in. There will be a lot of opportunities for me to play, whether that be in Europe or in the league, and I’ll be ready whenever I’m called upon.”
He did exactly that for the Gunners during the match, scoring the opener against Bodo/Glimt. Tierney’s bursting run ended with a shot from the edge of the box that hit the post, but Nketiah was on hand with a poachers’ finish to give his side the lead in front of the home crowd.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown was impressed with the goal, comparing it to a finish from icon Ian Wright. He told BT Sport: “Tierney wants to make his mark, really good strike but it’s nonchalant [from Nketiah]. That’s a kind of Ian Wright finish, Ian had time to look up in his book of finishes and say ‘do you know what? I’ll just sort my feet and feather it into the net’.
“Nketiah impresses me now, the press conferences he was saying he wants to play but it’s what you do when you play.”
Given the form of Gabriel Jesus, the striker may be facing an uphill battle to get into the team, but performances and contributions when he does start will only help his case to be in the side.