It is only fitting that Eddie Nketiah’s big moment required him to wait. The 23-year-old Arsenal striker had to wait until Dec. 26 to start a Premier League game. He was forced to wait again Sunday as VAR reviewed — and ultimately confirmed — his game-winning goal in the 90th minute against Manchester United.
The goal was Nketiah’s second of the game and his sixth in six games since replacing injured teammate Gabriel Jesus in the starting lineup after the World Cup.
“I think you could see how much we wanted to win, how bad we wanted it for ourselves, for our fans,” Nketiah told NBC after the game. “We kept pushing and pushing and thankfully, we got the breakthrough.”
With 19 of their 38 Premier League games played this season, Arsenal holds a five-point lead over Manchester City, who has played 20 games. Not expected to be a title contender when the season started, the Gunners are currently on pace to tie the Premier League record for points in a season.
Even though he’d only been used as a substitute in the Premier League until Jesus got hurt, Nketiah leads the team with nine goals across all competitions. He started all six games of the Europa League group stage and scored twice while helping Arsenal advance to the knockout stage of the competition.
Nketiah sent out a tweet celebrating the win over Manchester United, and it included the hashtag “GodsPlan.”
— Eddie Nketiah 📞 (@EddieNketiah9) January 22, 2023
— Eddie Nketiah 📞 (@EddieNketiah9) December 26, 2022
A graduate of Arsenal’s academy, Nketiah made his debut for the club on Sept. 28, 2017. He is England’s all-time leading goalscorer at the U-21 level and gave thanks to God after receiving an award to recognize the accomplishment earlier this month.
— Eddie Nketiah 📞 (@EddieNketiah9) January 13, 2023
In a 2020 interview with The Mirror, Nketiah explained how his faith in God has helped him stay patient when playing time has been hard to come by.
“I believe in God. I’m a very religious person, so I know my time will come. So it is just about treating each day as it comes, not letting your head get down if you don’t get minutes, and proving each day that you deserve to play. And work hard for the chance so when you get it you can take it,” he said.
Having grown up in London, Nketiah knows as well as anyone the expectations that come with playing for one of the world’s most prominent clubs.
“In life, you never know when your opportunity is going to come,” he recently told Sky Sports. “I’ve still got a lot to improve and work on but at the moment I’m happy with my contribution to the team. When you play for Arsenal, you’ve got to perform. That pressure is always going to come, whether you’re coming off the bench or starting.”
Arsenal face Manchester City in the FA Cup on Friday before returning to Premier League action on Feb. 4. With Arsenal now the odds-on favorites to win the league for the first time since 2003-04, Nketiah intends to contribute as much as he can and put everything in God’s hands.
“We leave the rest up to God, but if we keep pushing and doing everything we can to keep progressing, with the support we have from the fans, then anything is possible,” he told Sky Sports.
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