Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wasn’t feeling too generous with answers after the 2:1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park on Monday night. When asked why he chose Eddie Nketiah over record signing Nicolas Pepe, he gave a blunt response and shut down questions.
The defeat away to Everton was their third consecutive one and it was bad because the Toffees were not having it good either and had been on a three-game losing streak. Regardless, they came from behind to beat the Gunners who took the lead.
Marin Odegaard opened the scoring for Arsenal just before the break but Richarlison who was a third time lucky after having two goals disallowed for offside leveled for the Toffees before a brilliant goal by Demarai Gray in the 92nd minute sealed all three points for the home side and relieve Rafael Benitez of some pressure for now.
Arteta started both Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette in the game ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe. However, Martinelli’s injury forced a substitution in the 71st minute and the Spaniard opted for Nketiah ahead of some senior members in the squad.
The 22-year-old, who is expected to leave Arsenal next summer on a free transfer went on to miss a great chance to give the Gunners the lead as his header hit the woodwork.
The decision was a controversial one and has been met with criticisms by Arsenal fans who believed that Pepe would have contributed more and may have buried the chance. Meanwhile, Pepe has played just 5minutes in the last 7 Premier League games.
Regardless, when questioned on Pepe’s lack of minutes, Arteta went on the defensive: ‘Because I decided to play Eddie today, to bring him on,’ he said, via Metro.
‘He created three chances and hit the post in the space of 25 minutes I think.’
When asked why he chose Nketiah over Pepe, he responded: ‘He does everything in training what you saw him do in 25 minutes here.
‘Every single day. That’s why I picked him.’