Nketiah deserves minutes regardless of Aubemeyang situation, says Arteta

Nketiah's hat-trick helped Arsenal thump League One side Sunderland 5-1 on Tuesday and storm into League Cup semifinals, with Aubameyang dropped for a third straight match in all competitions.

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah in action.   -  ap

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah's good form means he deserves to feature more regularly during the Premier League's busy festive schedule, manager Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday as doubts remain over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's involvement.

Nketiah's hat-trick helped Arsenal thump League One side Sunderland 5-1 on Tuesday and storm into League Cup semifinals, with Aubameyang dropped for a third straight match in all competitions after being stripped of the captaincy for a disciplinary breach.

Asked if striker Aubameyang's situation meant the 22-year-old Nketiah could get more minutes, Arteta said: "With the way he's training and performing, he deserves more minutes regardless of what happens with any other player."

Nketiah hat-trick fires Arsenal into League Cup semis  

Nketiah's contract at Arsenal runs out in June, and Arteta said the London club was "trying really hard" to get him to extend the deal.

"The contract has an expiry date, and you can't control that," Arteta said. "His genuine intention is that he wants to play football, and that's what is driving whatever decision he's going to take.

"But he's obviously a player we want to keep, and we will continue to do our best to keep him."

Arteta was tight-lipped on the return of Gabon international Aubameyang, who the Athletic reported was dropped ahead of this month's Premier League game at home to West Ham United after he returned late from a trip abroad.

"We will go game by game, and we will decide the squad as we get closer to the game," the Spanish manager said as he looked ahead to the league clash with bottom side Norwich City on Boxing Day.

"I think we've shown in this club that everybody can make mistakes. It's not about that," Arteta said when asked if Aubameyang had apologised.

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