Eddie Nketiah believes his tough loan spell with Leeds helped him prepare for the battle to become Mikel Arteta’s first-choice striker at Arsenal.
The 20-year-old scored his first Premier League goal of the season in Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Everton.
Nketiah has started the last two league games under Arteta, who dropped France international Alexandre Lacazette to accommodate the academy product.
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After a few false dawns, including a goal just seconds into his senior debut, a lack of game time under previous head coach Unai Emery and a failed stint in the Sky Bet Championship at Leeds, Nketiah already has enough experiences to use as positives now he is in the Arsenal side.
“My Leeds experience was good for me, I learned as a player,” he said. “I might not have played as much as I wanted, but I had good moments when I was there when I came on and played. It’s just about learning and developing.
“It started really well, obviously I came on and if you check my minutes-to-goal ratio, it’s quite good but obviously it’s just how things are. Sometimes the manager makes his decision and you have to deal with it. It’s about learning from that environment. It’s a very good environment to be in, he (Marcelo Bielsa) is a very demanding coach and I learned a lot.”
The England Under-21 international started just two Championship games during his spell at Elland Road.
Arsenal recalled Nketiah in January, initially with the idea of loaning him out to another second-tier club where he would get more minutes on the pitch.
A move to Bristol City was reportedly close before new boss Arteta opted to keep him at the Emirates Stadium having been impressed with his displays in training.
“He was a bit 50:50 on letting me go anyway and I was 50:50 as well,” added Nketiah. “Obviously I just trained well and played my usual game, I try to give my all in training and treat it as a game. He likes this mentality and obviously the quality I have, I try to showcase that. It’s just about working hard, I’m grateful he’s given me the opportunity he has and I just want to keep learning.
“He’s a great manager and has a real determination to help and improve players, young players and the senior players as well. I just want to keep learning of him, make sure my mentality is right each day and keep improving. I’m grateful to be here at Arsenal, my home club, and the manager has shown a lot of faith in me.
“Mikel thought it was best for me to stay and I agreed. It has worked out well for me now. I’m competing and fighting for a place. That’s what I’m going to continue doing for the rest of the season.”
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