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Unai Emery’s top transfer need and fulfilling Eddie Nketiah’s promise – Arsenal talking points

Alex Iwobi ended this game with assists number eight and nine of the season, meaning he will complete the campaign with his best returns for both goals and assists. But then that is rather the point with the Nigerian, who is exceptional at linking with others but still struggles to display the cutting edge both Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery have demanded.

Iwobi was the better of Arsenal’s two nominal wide men today, as he has been all season. The truth is that, barring a brief flourish in the early spring, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been setting a low bar indeed.

According to Opta Mkhitaryan attempted nine crosses in the 3-1 win at Turf Moor. Only one of those is what the statisticians term a good cross, though it would have resulted in an assist had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not completely shanked his close range finish.

Iwobi was much improved in the second half as greater space opened up for him on a Burnley right where Matt Lowton continually ranged forward with little support from Jeff Hendrick. The truth however is the minimal contribution of the first half is too familiar a state of affairs for the young Nigerian international.

That does not mean Arsenal should give up on a home-grown prospect who has only just turned 23. But Iwobi, Mesut Ozil and the strikers need help. And pace.

Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth looks like a natural option – there are few proven, higher grade Premier League wide men in Arsenal’s price range – but with money tight this summer it could be easy for some transfer priorities to fall through the crack. That cannot be the case in adding wide options or else Emery will spend another season constructing game plans built around Sead Kolasinac cutbacks.

Eddie Nketiah’s best hope for the future is not at Arsenal

Over 18 months after the young striker announced himself on the Arsenal stage with a brace against Norwich City in the EFL Cup Nketiah finally has his first league goal for the Gunners. That it has taken him so long is no reflection on the 20-year-old striker but on successive head coaches who have failed to give him sufficient opportunities to prove his fledgling talent.

Nearly half of Nketiah’s hour of league football this season came on Sunday afternoon in a match where Emery was sufficiently unperturbed by a possible sixth place finish that he was prepared to overhaul his defence and even give Mohamed Elneny 90 minutes. The young striker who the Arsenal head coach had previously only turned to when games were already lost finally had a chance to prove himself with a game on the line.

He could have done little more. Dropping deep he forged space for Mkhitaryan to cross low as Aubameyang wasted a hat-trick chance. Nketiah was not so profligate, rifling through Tom Heaton’s legs from the tightest of angles with the final kick of the game.

All well and good but what does next season hold for Nketiah, particularly if Arsenal find someone to fill Danny Welbeck’s place as third-choice striker? More tearing up Under-23 defences in a league he has so clearly outgrown that he was nominated for Premier League 2 player of the season despite playing just 10 games.

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