Ian Wright has urged Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga to remain “patient” after admitting concern over his performances.
Lokonga joined the Gunners from Anderlecht for an initial fee of £15m from Belgian side Anderlecht around 18 months ago with the 23-year-old tipped to be the long-term answer in Arsenal’s midfield.
However, he has made just 14 Premier League starts since arriving at the Emirates Stadium and has struggled to make an impact when given a chance.
And that was again on show as Arsenal beat Oxford United 3-0 on Monday night in the FA Cup third round with the Belgium international substituted on 62 minutes for Granit Xhaka.
Mohamed Elneny’s header opened the scoring for Arsenal on 63 minutes before Eddie Nketiah sealed their progression with two well-taken finishes.
And Wright is concerned at the lack of impact Lokonga had on the match before he was hauled off but he still has faith he can come good at Arsenal.
Wright said on ITV Sport: “I think with Lokonga, Oxford played very well the time he was on, it was very hard for him to find space.
“Unfortunately for him he got taken off and Vieira stayed on and he was able to show the quality once they got tired and he got a bit more space.
“You’re hoping at some stage it will kick in for Lokonga because at the moment it doesn’t seem like it’s happening for him. He’s just got to be patient I think.”
Unlike Lokonga, Nketiah is a player who has grabbed his chance in recent weeks with the Arsenal striker scoring five goals in his last five appearances.
Wright added: “Eddie has got that quality, you back him to finish those chances.
“They’ve got faith in him, its sad to be without Gabriel Jesus but we know what Eddie is capable of. He’ll feel better going into the next game.”
And Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was delighted to see Nketiah get on the scoresheet again and the Spaniard thinks his striker is “getting better and better”.
“Obviously he’s been waiting for this moment,” Arteta said of Nketiah following the victory.
“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.
“That’s why I think he looks ready and why he’s performing the way he is. He showed great composure.
“He’s a great finisher, the timing of his runs and the decision-making in waiting until the last moment when the keeper was committed shows his quality.
“His understanding, his work-rate, I think he’s getting better and better.”
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