Mikel Arteta has hinted that Eddie Nketiah could start in Tuesday’s Premier League clash against Chelsea with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suspended.
Arsenal visit Chelsea aiming to bridge a 10-point gap to their fourth-placed rivals, with the Gunners having won just one of Arteta’s five league games in charge since he took over as manager from sacked Unai Emery.
Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United all lost at the weekend, so opportunities are opening up in the race for a Champions League spot.
And with Aubameyang serving the second game of a three-match ban on Tuesday, Nketiah could be the man called on to help the Gunners seize their chance.
The 20-year-old striker came on as a late sub in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United on Saturday.
Arteta opted to keep Nketiah with his first-team squad after watching him in training, with Arsenal unhappy at the lack of game time the centre forward was given during his recent loan spell at Leeds United.
And he could now be unleashed at Stamford Bridge.
Asked about Nketiah ahead of the game, Gunners boss Arteta said: “Every player has a chance to start. He is in the squad.
“We will assess who is in best conditions to play in who is training well and we’ll make the decision based on that.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa last week vented his frustration at Arsenal, claiming they were “unfair” to recall Nketiah.
Bielsa handed the England Under-21 striker just two starts in his 17 league appearances as he stuck with his No 1 striker Patrick Bamford to lead Leeds’ attack.
Tottenham also recalled Jack Clarke from his loan stint at Leeds for similar reasons.
Bielsa defended his treatment of Nketiah and Clarke, claiming he did nothing wrong.
“When they choose Leeds, they thought a lot about it,” said Bielsa. “They chose us over the other options they had.
“We did everything we said we were going to do. So, we have nothing to claim ourselves.”