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‘There are no hostilities’ – Nketiah hails ‘mature’ Lacazette for Arsenal advice

The young striker has grasped his chance since returning to the Emirates in January and scored in the 3-2 win over Everton

Eddie Nketiah has hailed the influence of Alexandre Lacazette after opening his Premier League account for the season.

The 20-year-old scored Arsenal’s first goal in Sunday’s 3-2 win against Everton, justifying Mikel Arteta’s decision to start him ahead of Lacazette for the second successive weekend.

It was Nketiah’s second goal in all competitions since returning from his loan spell with Leeds in January and his first in the Premier League since the success at Burnley on the final day of last season.

And the young forward was quick to pay tribute to Lacazette for the way he continues to help him, despite the Frenchman finding himself on the bench for successive Sundays.

“Obviously he is a mature lad and a great player,” said Nketiah. “He always tries to encourage me.

“He has been a young player in my position so he knows what it is like. There are no hostilities, he’s just always looking to help and improve and it shows the maturity he has.

“He has had a great career so all I can do is take the advice he gives me and try and implement it in my game and do what I do best.”

Nketiah has forged a strong relationship with both Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the past couple of years, with the two international strikers taking the young frontman under their wing.

On the pitch, they haven’t played much together – but during the week at London Colney the three strikers work closely and for Nketiah it’s a valuable learning curve.

“It’s great,” said the academy product. “They’re really good guys off the field and obviously top strikers.

“I just try to focus on myself and learn from them, see the things they do well and try to take from it and improve. 

“They’re always willing to give advice and talk to me whenever I need it. It’s great to have two great strikers to learn from. 

“I’m just trying to improve every day and listen to the people around me, my family and coaches, really improve, take each day as it comes and get better.”

Sunday’s game against Everton, which saw Arsenal move to within four points of fifth-placed Manchester United in the league, was Nketiah’s fifth since his loan spell with Leeds with cut short.

When he initially returned from Elland Road, Nketiah looked certain to head out on loan again, with Bristol City expected to land him for the remainder of the season.

He was even briefly listed as on loan with the Championship club on the official Arsenal website, only for Arteta to decide to keep hold of him having been impressed by his performances in training.

“He was a bit 50-50 on letting me go anyway and I was 50-50 as well,” Nketiah explained. “I try to give my all in training and treat it as a game. He likes this mentality and obviously the quality I have, I try to showcase that. 

“It’s just about working hard, I’m grateful he’s given me the opportunity he has and I just want to keep learning. 

“He’s a great manager and has a real determination to help and improve young players and the senior players as well. 

“I just want to keep learning off him, make sure my mentality is right each day and keep improving.”

Nketiah added: “My Leeds experience was good for me, I learned as a player. I might not have played as much as I want but I had good moments when I was there.

“I think I developed in that environment but obviously now it is a different situation, speaking to Mikel and the belief he showed in me I really did believe he would give me opportunities if I continued to work hard.

“I think all my life that is what I have done and Arsenal are obviously a top club and I support them so I always wanted to play here.

“It is the best thing to have this opportunity now and I just want to keep improving and hopefully take more chances.”

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