Martinelli: A Shining Light in a Dark Campaign

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Martinelli celebrates goal

Gabriel Martinelli joined Arsenal from Brazilian fourth tier outfit, Ituano, for a reported £6m and to be honest, the fans did not expect much from him. He is a 18-year-old player that was well sought after by several clubs, but Edu Gaspar’s influence played a role in getting him to North London. 

He was afforded just six minutes of playing time in his club debut at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, but he earned the plaudits after bagging a brace in his home debut against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. Martinelli followed that superb performance with yet another brace in the 4-0 drubbing of Standard Liege in the Europa League which made the fans pay a closer look to the mercurial talent at their disposal. The way he scored his goals showed his bravery and sublime South American technique, and you could see some Alexis Sanchez (of old of course, not this obese money bag at Inter) in him.

His purple patch in October 2019 continued with a goal in the home victory against Vitoria Guimaraes and another brace in that comedic topsy turvy 5-5 goal glut against an understrength Liverpool side. Martinelli moved his scoring feats from the Carabao Cup and Europa League to the Premier League, when he side footed the equalizer in Freddie Ljungberg’s resurgent win against West Ham and this was followed up with Arsenal’s solitary goal in the disappointing draw with Sheffield United last weekend. 

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, was full of praise for his young starlet in his post-match interview,

He’s an 18-year-old kid with all the enthusiasm but as well, he’s so brave to make decisions, to threaten the opponent every time. He’s all the time in the middle of the goal, waiting for an opportunity to come. The fact he hasn’t played 90 minutes for a while – since his injury – but is still in the way he went about every single action is impressive.

Arteta isn’t the only one that has ran out of superlatives for Martinelli, with the club captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, taking to twitter to state that he’s going to be a superstar. To feel the impact of Martinelli this season, his stats have been compared with the club’s leading attackers.

PLAYER GOALS ASSISTS APPS STARTS SUBS SPG
Aubameyang 16 1 26 24 2 2.5
Martinelli 9 2 20 8 12 1.3
Lacazette 6 2 20 16 4 2.2
Pepe 5 3 25 15 10 1.8

*SPG = Shots Per Game

As expected, Aubameyang leads all the stats due to his sheer importance to the side as well as the fact that he delivers, but Martinelli has been outstanding with the chances he was afforded in the first team. You would normally see him feature in the Europa League and Carabao Cup but he has made his mark in both competitions, scoring regularly in his team’s bid to progress. With Aubameyang out of the side, the manager needed other players to step up and to see him score that goal against Sheffield was a pleasurable sight.

Martinelli is always striving to make something work and when he has the ball, he is purposeful with it. This gives his teammates confidence to always find him, because he has the ability to offer much on the final third.

Martinelli has staked his place for a first team berth and he will be odds on to start against Chelsea, as the Gunners line themselves up for a revenge mission tomorrow. I would also expect to see Martinelli in the starting lineup when Arsenal takes on struggling Bournemouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup this weekend.

Martinelli will certainly see his debut in England as a success, as he’s closing in on double figures for goals this season.

He has certainly been a shining light in a dark campaign for his side.

Sayonara

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Arsenal 1-1 Sheffield: Gunners Drop Points Yet Again

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Arsenal (Martinelli 45′) 1-1 Sheffield United (Fleck 83′)

Match Highlights  Post-Match Press Conference

When the preview of this game was published, the collective expectation from Arsenal fans was to get a victory against Sheffield at home. Yes, with the opposition performing above expectations on the top half of the table, but with the Mikel Arteta resurgence, as well as the team playing a better brand of football, hopes were high. 

Arsenal started the game brightly with Granit Xhaka making a rare foray forward before dinking the ball to Mesut Ozil. The German schemer was aware of Nicolas Pepe’s positioning and flicked a beautiful ball to the Ivorian but his shot was poor. Pepe showed some good dribbling skills to evade his markers and tee up Gabriel Martinelli but the young Brazilian’s snap shot went wide.

Arsenal continued to attack the Blades and got their just reward when Bukayo Saka swung in a cross that deflected its way to Martinelli’s path and the Brazilian was on hand to side foot the ball home. The manager needed someone else to step up in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence and it was good to see Martinelli grab the bull by its horn and score a well deserved goal. For what his worth, I hope he retains his place when Auba returns.

The turning point of the match arrived when Pepe was impeded in the box but the combination of the erratic Mike Dean and the VAR decided, in their infinite wisdom, that it was not a penalty. Sometimes you tend to wonder the usefulness of technology when it cannot be utilized for what is required of it. I guess it comes down to the competence of the folks using it then.

As you would expect in an unforgiving competition like the Premier League, Sheffield attacked late on and the Arsenal rearguard switched off as usual, allowing John Fleck to blast the ball on the ground, which flashed past Bernd Leno to level the contest.

This result leaves Arsenal in 10th place, and 10 points behind fourth place Chelsea. 

One must wonder why the team is still struggling so badly, and at this point, we can not wait for the summer. It has been a shambolic campaign in the Premier League but it can still be salvaged with the FA Cup and Europa League.

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Sheffield Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Sheffield away

Pepe struggled against Sheffield

Sheffield will be bracing themselves for a revenge clash against their hosts, Arsenal, especially with the fact that they earned all three points when the Gunners visited Bramall Lane on a cold Monday night in October 2019. The history books do not favor Sheffield in this fixture, as they are winless in their last nine visits to Arsenal’s home ground, with their last win coming as far back as October 1971.

Sheffield is performing above expectations this season, sitting in sixth place and having the joint best defense in the league, which is in parity with the runaway leaders, Liverpool. Despite the Mikel Arteta resurgence at Arsenal, the club is closer to the relegation places than catching the top four, so they need three valuable points after today’s encounter with Sheffield.

With Aubameyang unavailable, Arsenal’s manager, Mikel Arteta, is hopeful that Alexandre Lacazette and the other players in the attacking department will find their scoring boots,

“It has been confirmed that [Aubameyang] is going to be suspended for three games. “It’s a big shame and a big loss for us, because as well we know Auba’s intention when he plays. But unfortunately he mistimed the tackle, he made a decision and we have to accept it.
 
“He’s been superb under me, he’s trained really well, he’s working so hard. He’s scoring goals and has probably been the most important player on the team. So to lose him, obviously, is really bad news for us.

“Players have to step up. You know, when one of your big players is not there, they have to take responsibility. I’m sure when they’re not playing, they want a chance and they talk. It’s time to talk on the pitch, not outside. You come on there, you make the impact that he made and you sure me that you are as good as him or even better. You have the chance.

“You can help [Lacazette find his goalscoring form] by talking to him and giving him confidence, but that ball has to end up in the net. I think that’s the best medicine for strikers. 

“What we have to try to do is put Laca in positions where he can have as many opportunities to do that as possible during a game.

The players will want to pick up some momentum and get a deserved victory against Sheffield.

Arsenal Team News

The Gunners go into today’s game against Sheffield United without their talismanic striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that was banned for three games following a poorly timed tackle on Crystal Palace’s Max Meyer. 

Calum Chambers (knee) and Kieran Tierney (shoulder) are the long term absentees, and there are fresh fitness concerns for Lucas Torreira (muscle) and Sead Kolasinac (thigh).

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Sheffield Team News

Chris Wilder has been very consistent in his selection with his back line and midfield starting almost every game in the league this season. He has managed to rotate his forwards, but they have not scored as much as expected. We are in December and Sheffield’s highest goalscorer is Lys Mousset with just five goals.

The Sheffield manager does not have any fresh fitness concerns to deal with.

 

Sheffield Predicted Lineup

Sheffield United 3-5-2 football formation

 

Injury Updates

Arsenal: Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Hector Bellerin (hamstring), Calum Chambers (knee)

Sheffield: Moore (groin), Michael Verrips (face)

Team Form Guide

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: D L W W D
  • Last Result: Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal
  • Leading Goalscorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (16)

Sheffield Form

  • Last Five Games: W D L L W
  • Last Result: Sheffield United 1-0 West Ham United 
  • Leading Goalscorer: Lys Mousset (5)

Gooner Daily predicts a 2 – 0 Arsenal win.

Kick Off – 4.00pm (GMT +1) at Emirates Stadium

Sayonara.

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