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Eddie Nketiah pulls ahead in race for worst kept secret ingredient

Arsenal has been tremendously lacking in one particular category since returning, but Eddie Nketiah has won the two-horse race for it.

Before Arsenal faced down Southampton, I wrote about how the Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah race would come down to the end of the season. Each was performing adequately, despite not scoring, and Mikel Arteta would likely keep flitting between the two of them before he found the answer he was looking for.

With Nketiah having started against Manchester City to absolutely no avail and Alexandre Lacazette starting against Brighton to an equal amount of avail, the race for the worst kept secret ingredient was at a dead heat, nil-nil.

Against Southampton, Eddie Nketiah returned to the starting XI and wasted no time pulling ahead in the two-horse race for who can prove themselves capable of scoring actual goals for the club.

Nketiah didn’t have his best matches overall. His hold-up play was lacking and his touch was disastrous at times, but pairing this with his match against City and from what we saw before the pause shows us all the pieces of what we need to know.

The missing piece was goals. Scraping tallies from performances that aren’t the greatest. That’s what Aubameyang does. If we’re supposed to get on with life without him, we’re going to need more guys who can pull a goal out of the crapper.

Nketiah did that.

Overall, Lacazette played better against Brighton than Nketiah played against Southampton. But guess what that counts for? Very little. If anything. We know he can play well and not score. We don’t know if he can play poorly and score. That’s something we just about never see from him.

And it’s what prevents him and Nketiah from stepping into an elite spotlight. It’s what separates them from guys like Aubameyang.

Nketiah isn’t in the clear with this race just yet, but the fact that he scored a single goal puts him ahead in the race. The next question is does Arteta stick with the hot foot or keep the rotation going? I was also of the opinion that whoever scored the first goal would keep the starting job until they didn’t score, and I still think that might be the case. We’ll find out this weekend.

Next: 5 Things Learned Against Southampton

Whatever the case, as I said before, I’d much rather Nketiah wins this race. At least then we can be set for the long-term.

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