Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been told that Gabriel Martinelli holds the key to the Gunners overcoming Villarreal in the Europa League.
Gabriel Martinelli could play a major role if Arsenal are to beat Villarreal in their Europa League encounter, claims Chris Sutton.
Arteta and company face former Gunners manager Unai Emery on Thursday night in Spain for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final as they look to establish an advantage heading into the second leg at the Emirates Stadium next week.
Ahead of the vital clash, former Blackburn and Celtic striker Chris Sutton says that Martinelli holds the tactical keys to getting the better of Emery’s team.
“There is space to exploit behind this Villarreal back line,” Sutton told the Daily Mail.
“A ball over the top and a curved run from Antoine Griezmann was how Barcelona equalised against them in La Liga last week. That’s a job made for Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli.
“Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are struggling to be fit for this semi-final first leg, so I’d like to see the 19-year-old Brazilian in the centre forward position.
“Behind Martinelli, I would use the improving Nicolas Pepe on the left, the exciting Emile Smith Rowe at No.10, and the lively Bukayo Saka on the right.
“These kids have bailed out their boss more than once this season. They can do it again on Thursday night.
“This is 10th in the Premier League against seventh in La Liga. Both clubs need this competition to make it into the Champions League.”
Sutton also identified Gerard Moreno as Villarreal’s danger man. The striker has scored 20 goals in 28 La Liga games this season. In the Europa League, he has added another six.
“Unai Emery’s Villarreal like to keep the ball on the ground – they are a creative team with a striker in brilliant form,” Sutton added.
“Only Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema have scored more goals in Spain than Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno this season.
“Arsenal’s back four need to be alert to him. Poor defending cost them against Olympiacos last season – don’t go giving Moreno any gifts on Thursday night.”