Mikel Arteta believes Eddie Nketiah is ‘getting better and better’ after brace in Cup win at Oxford


Mikel Arteta believes Eddie Nketiah is ‘getting better and better’ after the striker’s double against Oxford sent Arsenal into the FA Cup fourth round.

But the manager conceded his lack of attacking depth could still cost Arsenal as they look to turn this fine campaign into silverware.

Arsenal laboured for an hour at Oxford on Monday night, before three goals in 13 minutes broke the resistance of the League One side and set up a fourth-round clash with Manchester City.

Fabio Vieira laid on goals for Mohamed Elneny and Nketiah with two sumptuous assists before Nketiah sealed victory with another well-taken finish 14 minutes from time.

It means the striker, who has stepped up following a knee injury to Gabriel Jesus, has scored four goals in four games since the World Cup.

‘He showed great composure. He’s a great finisher, the timing of his runs and the decision making… his understanding, his work rate, I think he’s getting better and better,’ Arteta said.

‘Obviously he’s been waiting for this moment. He’s been patient when he needed to be but as well he’s been with the right mindset and preparing himself for this moment. And that’s why I think he looks ready and why he’s performing the way he is.’

But the Premier League leaders are working on a deal to sign winger Mykhaylo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk as they look to add more attacking reinforcements.

And Arteta conceded: ‘The problem is that we have only one striker and to cope for that many months until Gabby is back is not easy. But we have to get the most out of the players that we have at the moment. If we can have some reinforcements, great.’

Emile Smith Rowe made a welcome return from injury after four months out with a groin problem, playing the final 15 minutes last night.

‘It was the perfect game to give him some minutes to get off the blocks and now he needs to start to get available and start to play at the highest level because we’re going to need him,’ Arteta said.

Smith Rowe replaced Bukayo Saka, who appeared to be hobbling, but Arteta insisted the forward is fine ahead of Sunday’s north London derby.

The manager was also chuffed with the contribution of Vieira, who had struggled before changing the game.

‘I’m really happy with him,’ Arteta said. ‘That’s his quality, to create goals and decide games in the final third and he had two really good moments to help us win.’

Oxford boss Karl Robinson said: ‘My players can be proud of some of their display but we got a bit giddy in the second-half and that made us very vulnerable to their counter attacking.

He added: ‘We won’t come across another team with that speed and quality. We tried to play our way but the reality is that we don’t compete at that level.’


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