Mikel Arteta made 8 changes from the Arsenal team that lost to Everton at the weekend, but the biggest surprise was that Gabriel Martinelli was chosen to start, considering that he had only played 20 minutes on Saturday after a very long injury lay-off.
The young Brazilian was one of our most lively players, but Man City knew that and he was duly tackled heavily until he finally went down injured. It looked serious, but we were all very surprised when Arteta let the 18 year-old play on and even brought him back on when the second half began.
Arteta explained after the game that it was Martinelli himself who made the decision to play on, not the coach or the medical team. The boss told Arsenal.com: “It was just a really bad kick on his shin and it was swelling up and he could not continue,”
“[At half-time] he was pushing, he was saying he was completely fine, that he wanted to carry on. He had a scar that wasn’t open and he wanted to try, so we gave him the opportunity to try and when he was on the pitch he was uncomfortable so it was an easy decision to take him off.
“He has a unique energy and a way to transmit his passion for the game,” Arteta added. “He plays the game in a different way to any other player. It’s hard to compare him, but what I have to say is that it’s great to have him back.
“To bring that experience, that fight… to play against this opponent after such a long time out, in the way he did in the first half, it’s something to be really proud and happy about.”
It is absolutely fantastic to have Martinelli back in the squad, but I think most fans would have preferred to have him taken off at the first sign of injury, and saved the rest of his energy for the much more important game against Chelsea at the weekend.
What do you think?