Arsenal U18s’ start to the new campaign has been rather inconsistent, with Frans De Kat’s side winning two, drawing one and losing one of their first four matches of the season. One constant, however, has been the impressive form of first-year scholar Edward Nketiah, with the youngster having made a significant impression in recent weeks.
A diminutive yet quick striker who is also capable of playing out wide, Nketiah was previously on Chelsea’s books as a schoolboy. So far this season the game against his former side was the only fixture in which he was unable to find the net, with the 16-year-old scoring against Norwich City and Reading before hitting a brace against Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend.
That followed on from a hugely impressive pre-season from Nketiah, who hit four goals in one game in a tournament in the Netherlands. A forward who makes intelligent runs, whilst also being proficient in a technical sense, Nketiah’s recent form has been such that, having started the season as a substitute for the U18s, he is now firmly established in the starting line-up, fending off considerable competition from French striker Yassin Fortune, who arrived in the summer.
The hope now will be for Nketiah to continue to develop this campaign and the youngster’s cause will undoubtedly be aided by the fact that he already possesses much experience of U18 football from last season, when he featured heavily at that level as a schoolboy.
If he keeps on progressing as expected then it is likely that Nketiah will be involved in some capacity in Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League campaign whilst appearances in the FA Youth Cup and perhaps even for the U21 side aren’t out of the question this season.
At a club that possesses as much offensive talent as Arsenal do at youth level, it is a measure of Nketiah’s quality that he has been able to stand out from the crowd in the early stages of this season. His development will inevitably be helped further by the coaching of none other than Thierry Henry, who is working with the U18s this season.
This is likely to be another season of varied results for Arsenal’s U18 team, but in Nketiah they have a player who, at this juncture at least, appears to be someone that they will be able to rely upon on a regular basis.