After reports broke out of more injury setbacks for Arsenal’s latest match, Arteta has responded to calls for Martinelli to get more action.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith-Rowe are reportedly out for the Sheffield United match. So could this be Gabriel Martinelli’s big chance?
The 19-year-old forward has impressed since his €6.70 million arrival from Brazilian club Ituano in 2019, supplying 10 goals and five assists in 38 appearances across all competitions in a Gunners jersey.
After recovering from a long-term knee injury, however, Martinelli has struggled to win over Mikel Arteta. He has only made seven Premier League appearances this season and hasn’t made the line-up since a 1-0 win over Brighton on December 29.
The Brazilian’s lack of action has become a big talking point amid Arsenal’s poor run of results and underperforming stars.
Keown: "It’s time to bring in Gabriel Martinelli. He is too good to be sitting on the bench. His teammates see him in training & know what he can do. They will be baffled by his continued absence. I know I am" #Arsenal pic.twitter.com/Rd83OYa3nT
— Gurjit (@GurjitAFC) April 4, 2021
“That I understand,” said Arteta on Sky Sports in response to pleas for Martinelli to play more.
“When the team is not winning enough football matches, we always look for someone else to do it. But we can name a few of those. I respect that, and Gabi is doing really well. He is doing better every day, he is getting the right development.
“We have to be a little bit patient with him, but he has a bright future at the club and he will have all the opportunities that he needs to show us how good he is and the career he can have with us.”
Arteta also explained his decision to keep Martinelli out is mostly to avoid fielding too many inexperienced youngsters.
The Gunners boss has relied heavily on youth recently, with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Smith Rowe impressing. But he’s not been afraid to make the tough call either, as the underperforming Aubameyang has recently discovered.
“Because we cannot put six or seven young kids out there. We need some cohesion, we need the timing,” said Arteta. “Gabi has a lot of things to improve. He has got big qualities as well, and we have other players in those positions.
“Then we have to create links within the team and balance within the team. This will come.”
Could Sheffield United be Martinelli’s big chance?
Arsenal are without Aubameyang + Smith Rowe for Sunday trip to Sheffield United — Aubameyang has flu, Smith Rowe an ankle issue. #AFC will hope they recover in time for Europa League QF 2nd leg at Slavia Prague on Thursday @TheAthleticUK #SUFC #SHUARS #UEL https://t.co/KKkO9xpRv9
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) April 10, 2021
Reports emerged on Saturday night that Arsenal have suffered a double injury-blow ahead of the trip to Bramall Lane on Sunday.
According to the Athletic, Aubameyang has the flu and Emile Smith-Rowe is struggling with an ankle issue. Both players are now reportedly unavailable. However, Arteta hopes that won’t be the case for Thursday’s second leg against Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-finals.
Now the big question is who will replace Aubameyang?
Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Folarin Balogun, and Martinelli are all options for Arteta. But while the Europa League is the priority, the Gunners boss needs a result in Sheffield and may opt to not take any chances.
David Luiz and Kieran Tierney are also out, while Martin Odegaard remains doubtful with an ankle injury.