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Eddie Nketiah's England Calling

For the first time in his senior career, England U21's leading goalscorer Eddie Nketiah has been called up to the senior squad. With two goals and a penalty won in just four appearances this season, Arsenal's number 14 has certainly earned his call-up.

His Arsenal career began under Arsene Wenger back in 2017.


The Gunners were losing 1 - 0 at home to Norwich City in a League Cup tie, so the Arsenal boss gave Nketiah a chance. He took it.


On his Arsenal debut, Nketiah rescued extra time with an 85th-minute equaliser before scoring the winner six minutes into extra time. Wenger said that he "couldn't remember a young player having such an impact." High praise from a manager who scouted the likes of Thierry Henry and Santi Cazorla.

Nketiah continued to develop in Arsenal's youth set-up rather than going out on loan. He scored 39 goals in 39 appearances for the U18s, before scoring 27 times in just over a season for the U23s.


He did have a brief and unsuccessful loan spell at Leeds United in 2019, but returned to the Gunners at the start of 2020 due to a lack of minutes with the Championship club.


He was thrown straight into the starting XI under new Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, scoring two goals in his first three games, including the winner against Bournemouth in the FA Cup. Nketiah later played in a 2 - 1 victory over Chelsea in the competition's final at Wembley, winning the first major trophy of his career.

In the last three seasons, Nketiah has scored 21 goals in 71 appearances, most of those coming as a substitute. However, when Gabriel Jesus suffered an injury during last year's World Cup, Nketiah stepped up for Arsenal, scoring four times in the absence of the Gunners' number nine.


He's off to a flyer this season as well, scoring decisive goals in the victory over Nottingham Forest and the draw with Fulham. Nketiah also won the penalty which Martin Odegaard converted to give Arsenal a 1 - 0 win away to Crystal Palace.

Nketiah will be joined by three Arsenal teammates at St. George's Park. Aaron Ramsdale is the second-choice goalkeeper with Nick Pope left out of the squad, Bukayo Saka picked up his second straight England Men's Player of the Year Award, and Declan Rice joins the squad for the first time as a Gunner.


In truth though, Nketiah has pulled on the England shirt plenty of times before. He made his U19 debut in 2017 and scored four times in his first two games, including a hat-trick against Qatar.


He's since captained England U21s at the U21 European Championship in 2021 on his way to becoming their all-time leading goalscorer with 17 goals, four ahead of Premier League record holder Alan Shearer.

The 24-year-old brings something different to England's attack. Harry Kane of course remains first choice, especially for the competitive qualifier against Ukraine. The Bayern Munich striker is able to create chances almost as well as he can take them and is one of the best strikers in world football.


In Callum Wilson, England have a natural-born goalscorer. He won't create too many chances but will rarely miss the ones his teammates create for him.


Nketiah is different. Having learned from Gabriel Jesus and received coaching from Thierry Henry, he's fast becoming a more creative player, and is becoming stronger and more demanding of the ball. But by far Nketiah's biggest strength is his ingenuity.


He thinks faster than most and is often a step or two ahead of defenders. He, like many young strikers, must learn to trust his instincts.


When he's one-on-one with a goalkeeper, he often overthinks the situation. But Eddie's goal against Fulham is a perfect example of letting his instincts take over, and it worked to perfection, flicking a fast-paced cross past Bernd Leno with a deft touch. He's scored similar goals against Everton and Manchester United earlier in his career.

Nketiah brings a new element to England's attack, especially given his experience of playing with a strike partner in the U21s team.


Above all else though, he is one of the top three English strikers at the moment. With Ollie Watkins off to a slow start and Ivan Toney unavailable, Arsenal's number 14 deserves his place in the squad.


Eddie can only dream of seizing the chance just as well as he did for Arsene Wenger six years ago.




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