Freddie Ljungberg has praised Gabriel Martinelli for his cameo role in Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Villarreal last night.
The Brazilian was benched as Mikel Arteta bizarrely played with Emile Smith Rowe in a false nine role.
That decision didn’t pay off with the midfielder left isolated upfront on many occasions.
Arsenal made a poor start to the game and they paid for that by conceding two first-half goals.
With no experienced striker leading the line, the Gunners struggled to get goals in the game.
They scored through the penalty spot, but their attacking play got better when Martinelli was introduced into the game in the second half.
Ljungberg noticed it and said the Brazilian caused a lot of problems for Villarreal when he was subbed on in the game.
“Martinelli, when he came on he would go in behind, his movement created a lot of problems, and he helped Granit [Xhaka] a lot defensively,” Ljungberg told BT Sport via TBR Football.
“I thought he was amazing when he came on. The energy he gives, he runs everywhere, he is really awkward to play against. He trains really, really well.”
Martinelli hasn’t found much favour with Mikel Arteta in this campaign, but he will hope to start the return leg next week.