For just the second time in his career, Eddie Nketiah is set to make a start against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.
Though the striker has been in and around the Arsenal first team for six seasons now, he generally hasn’t been too involved on derby day.
The Gunners always had more senior strikers available, like Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Gabriel Jesus this season.
The one time Nketiah did make it into the lineup was last season, but Arsenal conceded a penalty and got a player sent off in the first half to ensure the striker had little chance to make an impact.
This time around, the 23-year-old is hoping things will be different, and he says it would be huge for him to score in the derby.
“It would mean everything,” Nketiah said. “Me and my family, and most of my friends as well, we’re all Arsenal fans.
“I can remember going to watch the north London derby not too long ago when I was in the academy, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to play in it now.
“It’s Tottenham, we’ve got to win. That’s always the mentality. All the boys are fired up. They know what we need to do, they know how important the game is and how much it means to the fans.
“We are going to give our everything to push and get those three points.”
As well as being a rare opportunity for Nketiah to start in the north London derby, this is also his first experience of a Premier League title race – though he did pick up medals for the Premier League 2 title with the u23s and the Championship title with Leeds United.
So far, he’s doing well in Gabriel Jesus’ absence, scoring four goals in four games. But the pressure isn’t going to let up, with Spurs, Manchester United, and Manchester City to come this month.
If he can keep a one-goal-per-game ratio going throughout the rest of January, Nketiah won’t have many doubters left by the time February rolls around.