Martinelli: A Shining Light in a Dark Campaign
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.
*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.
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