Martinelli’s cameo against Olympiacos shows why Arsenal fans were clamouring for more minutes for the Brazilian
Gabriel Martinelli finally touched the grass after so long, as his team lost the match but won the tie against Greek side Olympiacos. Arsenal were extremely bad on the night, there’s no point hiding the facts.
The Gunners made more chances in both quality and in quantity terms, but failed to score a single goal. It has become a common thing for the Arsenal faithful.
But there were two positives to take away from their loss in the round of 16. First, they advanced to the quarter-finals, which is all what matters. Second, Gabriel Martinelli impressed in his short 10-minute cameo at the Emirates.
Arsenal fans would hope that the impression that the 19-year-old made in his brief time on thecpitch would be enough for Mikel Arteta to trust the young Brazilian more often.
Arteta has repeatedly assured the Arsenal faithful that it is more about protecting the player rather than the quality and that fans should be patient with the young forward.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League last-16 tie with Olympiacos, Arteta said, “If anything it’s my fault,” said the boss. “He’s done everything perfectly, he trains incredibly well every day, and his attitude couldn’t be better.
“He’s really disappointed that he’s not playing more obviously, and I have spoken to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient. He had some minutes, he had some games as well, and it’s true that the competition for the front places is very tough.
“He needs to be patient, and he will get his chance.”
One reason for the fans’ frustration is Arteta’s insistence on starting the underwhelming Willian ahead of his young countryman. Although Willian has showed signs of improvement this year, the fans believe it would be better to give those precious minutes to Martinelli.
Gabi (his nickname), on the other hand, would hope that the cameo against Olympiacos is rewarded by more minutes in the league and in the latter stages of Europa League.
The 19-year-old would also hope to change the trio of Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka into a quartet force.
The young Brazilian possesses, of what Arsenal fans like to say when it comes to Kieran Tierney, “the boy has got snake legs.”
The former Ituano man can wriggle past opponents without much effort. The example of it was visible when he almost went past Ousseynou Ba in the 81st minute. He got his opponent sent off and that made the task of the Gunners wrapping up the tie less complicated.
Although he has found it hard this season, with a long-term injury sustained in June last year not helping, everybody knows what he is capable of. The Brazilian had 14 goal contributions in 26 appearances in his debut Arsenal season, which marked him in the same bracket as other one of the best teenagers in the world. This season he has only one assist to show for in 10 appearances. Although that’s a significant drop off, we all can agree on one thing.
This kid is bound for glory.
Connect with the writer via Twitter/Instagram: @yarsenal09