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Zinchenko backs Nketiah to step into Jesus’ shoes after Brazil striker’s injury

11:59 AM IST 24/12/22
Eddie Nketiah Arsenal 2022-23
Arsenal defender Oleksandr Zinchenko is confident Eddie Nketiah can fill the void left by Gabriel Jesus following the Brazil striker’s injury.
  • Zinchenko confident Nketiah can lead the line for Arsenal
  • The defender feels the Gunners should not worry over Jesus’ injury
  • Nketiah has played a bit-part role for Arsenal in the Premier League

WHAT HAPPENED? Jesus suffered a knee injury while playing for Brazil against Cameroon at the 2022 World Cup and has since had surgery which will keep him out for an extended period.

That has left Arsenal short upfront but Zinchenko feels Nketiah can step up and help the Gunners maintain their Premier League lead in the second half of the season.

WHAT DID HE SAY? “I have no doubts that Nketiah is going to do his job amazingly and everyone trusts him,” Zinchenko told the club’s website. “We have such a great group of people. We have this feeling of togetherness.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Jesus has been Arsenal’s undisputed No9 since joining in the summer from Premier League rivals Manchester City, scoring five league goals while providing six assists, and his absence is a blow to coach Mikel Arteta.

Nketiah, meanwhile, is yet to start a Premier League game in 2022-23, featuring 10 times from the bench despite signing a long-term deal at the club with hopes of playing more.

The 23-year-old Ghana prospect has been preferred in cup games where he has featured in all six Europa League fixtures as well as the League Cup, scoring three goals.

WHAT’S MORE? Nketiah might have a limited period to impress after Arteta hinted that he might be forced into the January transfer market for a striker to fill the void left by Jesus.

"We are going to be active and active means we are looking to strengthen the team,” Areta said this week.

"This squad still doesn't have the luxury of not maximising every single window. We have to do that because it's really important, but then we have to get the right profile.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Nketiah might start his first Premier League match of the season when Arsenal host London rivals West Ham on Boxing Day.