Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he “has not been fair” on Eddie Nketiah after the young striker scored twice in a rare start to stun Chelsea.
The 22-year-old, who is out of contract this summer, produced two fine finishes at Stamford Bridge in only his second Premier League start of the season.
He expressed frustration at his lack of game time and questioned his future in an interview earlier this week.
“I should have been playing him more,” Arteta told BBC Sport.
“I said to him I haven’t been fair.”
The Gunners have been in talks with Nketiah over a contract but the striker suggested he wants assurances about regular first-team football before signing a new deal.
“There have been talks and offers of a new contract but at the moment my aim is to play football and play regularly,” he told The Beautiful Game podcast.
“That’s my ambition and that’s what I hope to do but at the same time I’m at Arsenal, I love Arsenal.”
The former England Under-21 forward has made just seven starts this season, with Saturday’s match at Southampton his first in the Premier League.
He was behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette but the former’s January departure to Barcelona and the Frenchman’s absence because of Covid has given him an opportunity.
His double at Chelsea came a year and two days since his last Premier League goal in a 1-1 draw against Fulham.
“What Eddie has done tonight is because of what he has done for the last 10 months and no-one has noticed,” added Arteta.
“We have other issues as well and that has not been easy. But he deserved completely what happened to him tonight.”