The departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the decision to not purchase a replacement had its benefits.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli stepped up to fill the goals void.
And Eddie Nketiah was given the minutes that he had wanted since making his debut back in 2017.
Five years have passed since Eddie received the call for first-team football. The striker has had loan spells and fits and bursts since making his presence felt.
And now, with the fight to be Arsenal’s premiere striker very much on, we want to know…
…Is Eddie the answer?
Nketiah – at the time of writing – has four goals in his last four games. His brace against Leeds Utd grabbed the three points for us and showcased why he offers something different that our other strikers don’t have in their, ahem, Arsenal.
It’s the hunger, combined with the instinct to sense an opportunity.
If there is one word you would use to describe Eddie, it would be opportunistic. Nketiah’s goals largely spawn from his pressing the opponent in the final third and he combines it with at times, lethal finishing. His close control is good enough to combine with his fellow attackers and his awareness of where he needs to be is probably why he always seems in the right place at the right time.
Is he a ‘fox in the box?’ That wouldn’t quite do him justice as he has other attributes, but his finishing would also have to improve just a smidgin. However, you don’t become record England Under-21 scorer by being average.
In 168 pro games, he has bagged 73 goals, with 14 assists. Take away the stats for the Reserves, that’s 109 games, with 28 goals and 3 assists. That’s not setting anyone on fire, but we have to remember that Eddie is still young.
Should he be our answer next season?
Not as a first choice, no. But that doesn’t mean we should let him go.
Eddie gives us the opportunity to switch things up. If Martinelli does indeed end up playing as a striker, he will offer pace and dynamism. His feet are a blur. But replace him with Eddie, or if we are chasing a game then add him up top, then we give the defenders an altogether different threat.
Every top team needs a backup. A striker who can play 30 games and get double figures. Liverpool have Jota and Origi. Chelsea have Werner. City have Jesus, Sterling.
If Lacazette does leave to return home in the summer, there can be no doubt that Arteta will be looking for a striker to bag 20+ goals. And he will want Eddie to stay. But it would be remiss of him to make Eddie the number one choice.
But we need him in our ranks.
Whether or not he will be happy playing as an alternate option is another matter.
What would you do with Eddie in the summer?