Mikel Arteta says Arsenal “absolutely adore” Eddie Nketiah after the forward, whose contract expires in the summer, scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Leeds.
Nketiah, 22, has started the last five games for the Gunners after previously struggling for minutes under Arteta.
He has seized his opportunity with two goals against Chelsea, impressive showings in wins over Manchester United and West Ham, and a starring role against Leeds.
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His future, though, is still unclear as he has resisted several attempts by Arsenal to extend his stay, seemingly due to concerns over regular first-team action.
“He is doing what he has done all season,” Arsenal manager Arteta told Sky Sports after the win over Leeds.
“When he’s on the bench, when he’s sitting at home or when he’s on the pitch, this boy doesn’t change, that’s what we absolutely adore him, and he deserves what is happening to him.
“He has the right environment. The right personnel around him and now he is going to get judged for what he does when he is on the pitch and before he didn’t have that context.”
Asked about his recent form, Nketiah said: "Any player wants to be playing and have opportunities, and I’ve worked hard throughout the season to make sure I was ready when I get my chance.
"Credit to my team-mates for helping me play and do well. I am just happy to be in the team and helping the team. It was a big three points, we have been working hard, it’s amazing to get the three points and it moves us closer to our objective.”
Arsenal have now won their last four matches in a row and will secure a top-four finish with victory over north London rivals Tottenham on Thursday.
“We know how big that game is going to be and how decisive that game is going to be,” said Arteta. “We plan the game as always and go there to win.”
Arsenal looked set for a comfortable afternoon after Nketiah’s early double was followed by a red card for Leeds defender Luke Ayling.
However, Leeds hit back as they scored with their first shot on target to ensure a nervy finish at the Emirates.
“We started really well, with the right determination, attitude, quality, we were at them and didn’t allow them to breathe,” said Arteta.
“We generated chance after chance, after the sending off we should have scored the third goal, when you don’t do that they scored with their first shot and then it’s nervy.
"At the end we suffered more than we needed.”
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