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Martinelli: A Shining Light in a Dark Campaign

Image result for martinelli goal sheffield

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.

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.


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Martinelli on Fire as Arsenal Thump Standard Liege


Image result for martinelli standard liege

It was clearly evident that Unai Emery was going to make wholesale changes to the team that put up that shitefest at Old Trafford and with Standard Liege coming to town, the opportunity existed to gain a stronghold of the group. Emi Martinez expectedly deputized in goal while the gaffer handed starts to the recently recovered injury trio, Rob Holding, captain Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney in defense. The out-of-favor Skhodran Mustafi completed the back line. In midfield, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos played behind Chris Willock while Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles flanked the impressive Gabriel Martinelli in attack.

Following that breathtaking performance against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, I was excited to see what these lads had to offer as most of them in the playing squad are still trying to stake a claim for first team football. The Gunners hit the ground running when some lovely passing play in midfield allowed the ball to get to Tierney on the byline that whipped a cross that was nodded home by Martinelli. For someone so young, you can’t fault his bravery when he’s attempting those headers from killer crosses. If you thought his first goal was good, his second was even better, a sweet curling effort that left the goalie rooted to the spot. That’s four goals in his first two Arsenal starts, which will certainly alleviate Emery’s concerns on a backup striker to provide depth to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Alexandre Lacazette currently injured.

Arsenal looked like they were going to score with pretty much every attack and they were three goals to the good in just 21 minutes when the ball ricocheted off a Standard Liege defender and fell kindly to Joe Willock whose first timed effort hit the bottom corner. That was his third goal this season and many Gooners will be proud to see how our Academy product has acquainted himself well with the big guns and has done really well in his fledgling career thus far. Ceballos put some gloss in the score line in the second half following some brilliant work from Martinelli on the touch line to crown an awesome display from the Gunners.

Image result for martinelli standard liege

Sometimes you just gotta sit back and enjoy some brilliant football on display and these performances go a long way in giving the manager some selection headaches ahead of the grueling Premier League campaign. Emi Martinez may be our longest serving player but he has finally come of age after that impressive loan spell at Reading and he knows that he is capable of pushing Bernd Leno to his limits in his bid to make the #1 jersey is. Leno himself has been very impressive since taking over from Petr Cech but he knows he can’t rest on his laurels.

Defense is one part of the team that needs to be sorted out as the Gunners have kept only one clean sheet in their first seven Premier League games, which is really disappointing. Sead Kolasinac has been decent thus far but with the way Kieran Tierney has been playing, I can’t wait for him to switch roles with the Bosnian, as he’d be the star man in the Premier League while the Tank features in these sort of games. Right back has been a position we have struggled following Bellerin’s long term injury, but Calum Chambers has done very well in the few games he has featured thus far. I really can’t wait for Rob Holding to start featuring in the Premier League but it means that Unai Emery will need to make the hard choice to sending either Sokratis Papastathopoulos or the erratic David Luiz to the bench. Left for me, I’d choose the latter.

Joe Willock has been very decent and for some reason, I’m shocked to see that Ceballos has not yet nailed a place in the first team. That man reminds me of Santi Cazorla’s graciousness on the pitch and his technical skills are up there with the very best in the game. I also love his unpredictability factor that makes him a thorn in the flesh of opposition defenders. With Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi pretty much locked as the double pivot in midfield, there are competition for places with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Torreira in the question.

I’d also want to touch on the performances of the wingers –  Nelson and Maitland-Niles. They played well as you’d expect in a game of this nature, but you can’t help but think that they haven’t still done enough to show that they are ready to nail a first team place, especially Nelson. I was surprised to see the club show some ruthlessness with the departures of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan but it clearly meant that their exits was to pave the way for Nelson to strut his stuff but he hasn’t really impressed. His shortcomings saw Emery had a chance to Bukayo Saka, and for the winger to be rested against Standard Liege, it clearly means that he’s in contention to earn another starting berth against Bournemouth in the Premier League.

In the end, it was a great game of football and I intend to revel in it for a while before switching focus to the rigors of the Premier League.


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