Eddie Nketiah eager to punish Chelsea after painful exit triggered ‘awakening’

Mauricio Pochettino previews Arsenal clash

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah might just have an extra incentive to fire the Gunners to victory over Chelsea if he is picked to start against the Blues this weekend. The 24-year-old has featured in every Premier League match for Arsenal so far this season and looks likely to be involved at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening.

Nketiah was on Chelsea’s books as a teenager and played in their academy teams alongside the likes of Declan Rice, who reunited with him by joining Arsenal over the summer. However, the striker failed to make the grade at Stamford Bridge and was released by the club in 2015.

He previously explained that although his exit from the Blues was a major setback at the time, it triggered an ‘awakening’ that helped him to reach his full potential with Arsenal, who he signed for just five days after learning that his spell at Chelsea was over.

“I was there from the ages of nine and 14 and it came as a shock to me because I was doing well at the time,” Nketiah told The Guardian earlier this year. “It gives you an awakening knowing that things can change like that, that you can lose everything you have worked for.

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“It gives you that extra motivation and resilience when times are hard. I’m able to dig a level deeper than maybe some people can or don’t want to go into. It’s all part of the experience. Some boys might not have experienced it but then they will have had lows in their careers. This was my journey and it has helped me be who I am today.”

Nketiah has since been adopted as a valued member of the Arsenal family and will be desperate to show Chelsea what they are missing if he faces the Blues on Saturday. He has already scored twice in the Premier League this season and would certainly love to increase his tally against his former club, who have endured a torrid start after winning just three of their opening eight matches.

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Nketiah’s strong form at club level was rewarded with an England debut over the international break and it seems clear that Arsenal will remain his home for the foreseeable future, with the Gunners ace determined to repay the faith they showed in him as a teenager.

“There have been different opportunities and different thought processes along the way,” added Nketiah. “I have always believed that I can make it and play here. Everyone’s journey is different but this is my journey.

“There has always been transfer talk and speculation, but I am happy that I have taken this route and I am proud to be part of Arsenal. It feels like home to me. I’m excited for the future.”

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