Mikel Arteta has backed Kai Havertz to win over the fans and come good at Arsenal after the summer signing from Chelsea endured a tepid start to his career at the Emirates.
Havertz arrived for £65million in June and has started all three of the team’s Premier League games as part of a midfield three this season.
He was withdrawn after 56 minutes of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Fulham having struggled to help Arsenal back into a match in which they trailed to Andreas Pereira’s first-minute goal.
Two goal contributions for Fabio yesterday 👏 pic.twitter.com/RZBup2BpX0
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 27, 2023
He had one glorious chance to level early in the first half when he got his head to Bukayo Saka’s clever flick back across goal but badly miscued his effort.
And there was audible discontent from sections of the home support in certain moments when the Germany international was in possession.
His struggles were thrown into stark relief by the impact of the player who replaced him, Fabio Vieira, who won a penalty from which Saka equalised in the 70th minute and then set up fellow substitute Eddie Nketiah to fire Arsenal into the lead moments later.
Arteta insists he has been pleased with Havertz’s contributions so far and said he remains confident he will settle in north London.
“I saw an action when he played it backwards and he could have turned,” said the manager. “But that’s more I think the demands of everybody, to play forward and to impact the game in the final third, because we had the urgency to win it.
“Yes, I think (he will win the fans over). I think he’s done already really good things today. It was tough for him in certain moments, he got in great areas again and the ball didn’t arrive.
“He’s had a lot of situations, he should have scored already a lot of goals this season, and that’s the thing that is missing there.”
The introduction of Vieira and Nketiah in the second half had a transformative effect on Arsenal after a first half in which they dominated play but rarely extended Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Vieira in particular succeeded in galvanising the team in midfield after the ineffectual Havertz had departed, playing a decisive role in the goals that looked to have won it for the hosts before Joao Palhinha’s late strike for 10-man Fulham.
But Arteta reserved special praise for Nketiah, a surprise omission from the starting line-up after performing well during Monday’s win against Crystal Palace, winning the penalty from which Martin Odegaard secured a 1-0 victory.
“(Nketiah) looks a real threat at the moment,” said Arteta. “He’s in a good moment, I think he’s full of confidence. I saw when he came on in the second half the fire in his eyes, and he’s got an eye for goal. The way he finished the action, it was top.
“It’s difficult to leave (any) player out. When I see the bench there are players that still haven’t played. But we’ve (played once a week (so far). In two weeks, that’s going to be a completely different scenario and we’re prepared for that.”