Arsenal striker Eddie Nketia admitted he was touched by Chelsea’s rejection of him when he was a teenager.
The 22-year-old was listed in the books of the famous Chelsea academy in Cobham, London between 2008 and 2015 – for seven years – until the club sacked him when he was with their Under-14 side. Arsenal picked him up soon after, and he finally made his club debut in two seasons.
Point was the difference-maker between the Gunners against their London rivals. First, he netted a short pass from Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen in defense to put it past Edward Mendy.
Then in the second half, he put pressure on Chelsea’s defense and his intense pressure led to a comedy of errors which he exploited to deflect the ball into the net from around the penalty spot.
Arsenal ran out 4-2 that night thanks to his efforts which were also his first Premier League goals in over a year.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Nkitea, who is set to leave Arsenal in the summer, said: “I think that makes this even more special, you were here even under 14 and then you left me, so you always have that chip in your machine. A shoulder to come and prove yourself. .
“But today it’s not about me, it’s good that I scored two goals, but it’s about the team and the rebound.”
Arsenal entered the match after suffering three consecutive defeats against Crystal Palace, Brighton, Hove Albion and Southampton, where they scored one goal and conceded six goals. However, they have now gained momentum for the rest of the season to help them rank in the top four.
The win in West London means that coach Mikel Arteta’s team remains in fifth place, equally with 57 points with fierce north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who lead them by only goal difference with six games remaining.
Point was asked what he thought of his team’s top-four chances. The striker believed that they received a huge boost with the victory over Chelsea, which they will benefit from until the end of the season.
“I think it gives us confidence, we’ve all stuck together through tough times. We’ve shown that we can recover from the setbacks.
“Today is a great result, it is always good to win the derby and we are just looking to move forward and hopefully keep three points to climb up the table.”
Arteta also praised Nketia’s performance, admitting that the young striker did not have many chances under his leadership.
“What Eddie did tonight is because of what he’s done for the past 10 months and nobody noticed,” said the former Manchester City assistant manager. “I told him I wasn’t fair. I should have played him more.
We have other issues as well and that wasn’t easy. But he totally deserved what happened to him tonight.”
Arsenal travel home to prepare for Manchester United who are also in the top four race, but confidence is low after a defeat by title rivals Liverpool on Tuesday.
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