Eddie Nketiah ready to outshine Harry Kane as Arsenal striker grabs chance in Gabriel Jesus absence

Eddie Nketiah ready to outshine Harry Kane as Arsenal striker grabs chance in Gabriel Jesus absence

All eyes are on Harry Kane ahead of Sunday's north London derby, but Eddie Nketiah is ready to steal the spotlight from him.

Kane is one shy of Jimmy Greaves's Tottenham goalscoring record, and a home match against Arsenal appears the perfect stage for him.

Nketiah has other ideas, though, after continuing his fine form since the World Cup break by scoring twice on Monday night, as Arsenal beat Oxford in the FA Cup third round.

There were fears the Gunners' season could be derailed by Gabriel Jesus injuring his knee playing for Brazil in Qatar, however Nketiah has scored four goals in as many games since replacing him.

The 23-year-old faces tougher tests over the next month, including a trip to Manchester City in the fourth round, but Mikel Arteta has backed him to maintain his good start.

"Obviously, he's been waiting for this moment," said Arteta. "He's been patient and he's had the right mindset to prepare himself for this moment. And that's why I think he looks ready and is performing the way he is."

Arsenal and Nketiah were frustrated for much of this trip, the League One side proving stubborn hosts. Both sides failed to muster a single shot on target in the first half, during which the highlights were Oxford fans chanting "boring, boring Arsenal" and the travelling supporters retorting "can we build a stand for you?"

Taking his chance: Eddie Nketiah is thriving as Arsenal’s replacement for Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Taking his chance: Eddie Nketiah is thriving as Arsenal’s replacement for Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The unique nature of the Kassam Stadium, which only has three stands, probably did not help Arsenal. The wind whips through the ground and the pitch had clearly taken a battering from the recent rain.

Arsenal finally clicked into gear around the hour mark, when Granit Xhaka and Oleksandr Zinchenko were introduced to bring some familiarity to a heavily-changed team. It had the desired effect and, in the space of 13 minutes, Arteta's side scored three.

First, Mohamed Elneny headed home from a free-kick, and then Nketiah got in on the act with two moments of real quality. He rounded goalkeeper Ed McGinty after Fabio Vieira had split open Oxford's defence for the first, then combined well with Gabriel Martinelli on the halfway line, before accelerating up the pitch.

They linked up again just inside the box and Nketiah steadied himself to dink the ball over the keeper. Nketiah has not been clinical enough in the past, but on Monday night he had two chances and finished both.

"He showed great composure," said Arteta. "He is a great finisher and the timing of his runs as well. The decision-making to wait to the last moment shows his quality. His understanding, his work-rate is getting better and better. I'm really happy."

Nketiah's form is timely for Arsenal, given they face a decisive month in the title race. They travel to Spurs, before hosting Manchester United next week.

Matches against Brentford and Everton follow, with Arsenal facing Manchester City twice during this run, too, in the FA Cup and League. It is a pivotal stint of games, but Nketiah will be confident he can continue making an impact.