Premier League legend Alan Shearer has questioned whether Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah will ever be the “elite” striker that the Gunners need.
Leandro Trossard fired Arsenal to a rare away win at Goodison Park on Sunday as they beat Everton 1-0 in an unconvincing performance.
The Belgium international’s second league goal for the club he joined in January was a paltry return for the dominance the Gunners enjoyed but it proved enough to halt a sequence of four defeats and a draw in L4.
While they also extended this season’s unbeaten run and lifted them back to within two points of leaders Manchester City and behind only Tottenham and Liverpool on goal difference.
Nketiah started at Everton despite Gabriel Jesus’ full return to fitness after Mikel Arteta put faith in the 24-year-old, who recently received his first call-up for the England senior squad.
But Shearer thinks Nketiah was a bit “slow” in certain situations and he’s not sure that the Arsenal striker will ever be at an “elite” level.
Shearer said on Premier League Productions: “I think we’ll continue to have the discussion to say is he elite? Is he the top drawer striker that perhaps Arsenal need to go to that next level?
“We’ll keep asking those questions because it’s important when he gets the opportunity, like he has done again today and the manager says I’m having belief in you and I’m putting you in again then he has to take those opportunities.
“Today I just thought there were two or three occasions, one being the disallowed goal, there was a couple in that second half where I’m thinking come on, get on the end of it get in that six-yard box and get that tap in that all great strikers do and it was just a split second where he was slow.
“Until he keeps doing or does that questions are still going to be asked.”
Summer signing David Raya started over Aaron Ramsdale against Everton to the surprise of many but the Arsenal boss defended his decision.
When asked about his decision to start Raya over Ramsdale, Arteta replied: “The same rationale about why Fabio (Vieira) played here or Eddie (Nketiah) or Gabriel Jesus.
“I haven’t had a single question on why Gabriel Jesus didn’t start. He has won more trophies than anybody else, including me, in that dressing room.”
Arteta added: “I cannot have two players in each position and not play them. David has tremendous qualities, like Aaron has, like Karl (Hein) has and we have to use them.
“I am a really young manager and I have only been in the job for three and a half years and I have few regrets in what we have done.
“One of them is that on two occasions I felt after 60 minutes and 85 minutes in two games in this period, to change the keeper in that moment and I didn’t do it.
“I didn’t have the courage to do it. But I am able to take a winger, or a striker and put a central defender back and go to a back five to hold that result.
“And we drew those games and I was so unhappy and someone is going to do it and maybe it (the reaction) will be, ‘oh! That is strange. Why?’
“Why not? Tell me why not. You have all the qualities in another goalkeeper and you want to do something to change the momentum, do it.
“It is a regret that I have and my feeling is to get everyone engaged in the team. They have to play regardless of the competition. Do it. That is my message.”