Mikel Arteta has suspicions confirmed over Arsenal’s problem position

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had his suspicions over his side’s problem position confirmed in their 1-0 defeat to Everton. Arteta made six changes from the team which rescued a point against relegation-threatened Fulham last week, but it proved to be another underwhelming display from the Gunners.

One of those changes was the selection of Eddie Nketiah to lead the line, with Alexandre Lacazette struggling with a hamstring injury and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang recovering from malaria.

It was just the third Premier League appearance since January for the striker, who has struggled to break into Arteta’s plans.

Despite scoring the equaliser against Fulham last week, Nketiah failed to show he is the solution to the Gunners’ attacking issues.

With Lacazette and Aubameyang failing to provide the goals required of an elite team, Arsenal have been left clinging onto a place in the top-half of the Premier League.

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In fact, the Gunners have scored the second-fewest goals of anyone currently in the top 10, with a striker set to be targeted in the summer transfer window.

Against the Toffees, Nketiah gave no indication that he could be an internal option to lead the line for the Gunners.

He struggled to impact the match on just his fourth start of the season in the top-flight, having just two shots before he was hauled off in the 74th minute.

The 21-year-old’s poor performance perhaps adds weight to Arteta’s decision to not include the striker in many of his squads this season.

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Back at the start of March, the Gunners boss insisted that Nketiah would get his chance and was impressing in training.

“It hurts because of how Eddie behaves and trains every day and because he’s a player from our academy, but he will have his chance,” he told Sky Sports.

“He needs to be patient and he’s showing no signs of lacking attitude or anything like that, it’s the complete opposite.

“He’s a joy to work with and he deserves minutes and if he doesn’t get it, it’s just my fault.”

Actions though speak louder than words, with Nketiah only returning to a matchday squad in mid-April, suggesting Arteta does not believe he is what Arsenal need.

Though Lacazette has also been linked with a summer departure, the impending contract extension for Folarin Balogun would put Nketiah at the bottom end of the pecking order.

And his failure to produce the goals needed to stake a claim for a starting spot combined with Arteta’s reluctance to play him, means the end appears to be closing in on Nketiah’s Arsenal career.

With his contract entering into its final year, a summer exit is now likely for the Englishman, who is currently valued at £16.2million by transfermarkt.
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