Gabriel Martinelli set to play centre-forward for Brazil, why not for Arsenal?

Due to injuries, Gabriel Jesus has had a disappointing start to the 2023–24 season. Three months into the season, the Brazilian has already missed eight games (in all competitions) for Arsenal, having been injured at the start of the season and then again at the end of October.

Mikel Arteta has found a way to deal with the Brazilian international’s absence, playing Nketiah, who hasn’t been able to be consistent, and also playing Trossard, who has been fantastic.

That said, what if, other than Nketiah and Trossard, there’s another wildcard striking option that Arteta could test out, and he could be another great option in the absence of Gabriel Jesus?

Why can’t Arteta try Gabriel Martinelli in the No. 9 role? Unai Emery did at times use the left winger as a forward, but Arteta hasn’t really embraced the idea. As per reports and video highlights from the Brazil national team‘s training sessions, head coach Fernando Diniz has indicated his intention to use Martinelli as No. 9.

Apparently, it has been noted at training that Martinelli featured as a striker in a 4-2-3-1 system in front of Raphinha, Rodrigo, and Vinicius Junior.

Brazil is in preparation to face Colombia and Argentina in the World Cup qualifier. It remains to be seen if Martinelli will feature as a No. 9 in the absence of Richarlison and if it would work. If it works, it would be a terrific thing for not just Brazil but also Arsenal.

Last season, the Arsenal legend Martin Keown indicated that he thinks Martinelli’s best role could be to play as a striker because he is a natural goalscorer.

Keown told BT Sport: “I believe, strongly believe, that he’s a natural goalscorer.

“I would have thought actually the central position is his natural position. But from the left, we now get inside forwards.

“We saw this with [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane, particularly when they played together as a pair, just tucking in, because Saka’s doing the same thing. So they get a bit more freedom.

“But put him in the middle, and he will score goals. I think he’s got everything in his game.”

Martinelli as a striker: What do you think?

Daniel O

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Tags Brazil Gabriel Martinelli Jesus


  1. I suggested this 2 seasons ago but our Manager ,who is of course more highly qualified on football matters than an old man, obviously thinks differently.In any event the rigidity which is applied to our excellent young wingers who rarely venture from their wide starting positions, makes them relatively easy to mark, whereas more rotation in our front three could cause disruption in opposing defences.

  2. Well it’s easy to play Martinelli upfront when you have Vinny Junior on the left, but that’s not the case at Arsenal.

    Gabby is easily our best option at LW.

    1. Beg to differ Jen.Saka is our most natural left winger and the right footed Martinelli would, I suspect, be equally effective on his natural side.Unfortunately, the obsession with playing inverted wingers has afflicted Arteta, but, if we sign a physical centre forward which many Arsenal fans seem to want, the new man will be better served by wide men who can cross on the run which neither Martinelli nor Saka can do well in their present positions.

      1. Grandad,is it really an obsession or a now accepted convention in football? Would Klopp play left footed Salah on the right? Let us look at some of the best wingers currently:

        Left footed Salah-been consistently one of the best players in PL playing on the right.
        Vini Jr. – Right footed and plays on the left for both Real Madrid and Brazil
        Kaoru Mitoma-Right footed plays left at Brighton and Japan
        Grealish – Right footed plays left for City and England
        Rashford- Right footed plays left for both United and England
        Raphinha- Left footed plays right for Barca and Brazil
        Rafael Leao – Right footed plays left wing for AC Milan and Portugal
        Miguel Almiron- Left footed plays right for Newcastle

        One of the best players in the PL in the past decade,Eden Hazard, a right footed winger played on the left. Cristiano Ronaldo who is considered as an all time great by many,played predominantly on the left for Real Madrid-a right footed player. The left footed Gareth Bale played on the right.One of the best wing partnerships was Bayern’s Robben & Ribery – they all played in a similar manner. The list goes on and on.

        Clearly,virtually all teams in football play left footed forwards on the right and vice versa,because the angles favour scoring. The job of crossing is now primarily done by fullbacks and interior midfielders(KDB did this to great effect for Haaland). At Arsenal,crossing is a pointless tactic because we don’t have a targetman,except in situations Havertz roams into the box,or in set piece situations when our tall players gather in the box. Low crosses,on the other hand,are still useful and I’ve seen Saka,Martinelli and Trossard deliver those consistently into the box.With all due respect Grandad,it’s you who might be obsessed with outdated playing tactics.I’m sure if you asked Saka what he thinks his best position is,he’d say right wing.

      2. Sorry Grandad but you clearly NEVER watch Arsenal from what you just said. I’m actually stunned by your comments!

        Saka has become world class at RW!

    1. @Onyango I have observed this myself in modern football. Leftfooters playing on the right, while rightfooters playing on the left. Back in the days Leftfooters who mostly wore #11 winger, #3 for right backs. #7 for right wingers and #2 for right backs. I guess those systems are now obsolete. Zidane was the best #10 in his time at Real Madrid, but was Jersey # 5.

  3. He played there a few of times a couple of years ago and didn’t quite look suited to it – he was obviously very young then, and he didn’t play a lot of games/minutes, so it’s possible he could be in a better position to do well there now, I don’t know.
    He’s been doing great recently on the wing, especially with his dribbling, so I don’t have a great desire to see him switch roles at arsenal, but maybe Brazil will help us gain some insight. If he does well at CF for Brazil, maybe it would be something for us to consider.

  4. He is a natural left winger but let’s wait and see if he gonna surprise us when he featured in those Brazil’s World cup qualification fixtures.

  5. I’m sure he could play through the middle, but he’s an immensely effective left winger. If we can beat Man City both in the community shield and at home in the premier league, it doesn’t seem a very urgent matter to play him through the middle. The squad is working well, what we need to improve on is Havertz. I would suggest playing Trossard there. He also presses effectively. I think with the creativity of Odegaard and Trossard, plus Saka/Martinelli/Jesus our attack would be fearsome indeed.

  6. With Martinelli, Saka & Trossard all ambipedal it doesn’t really matter who plays where along the front three.

  7. He’s the best left winger at the club in my opinion so moving him to CF could weaken the team. Martinelli’s biggest strength is his pace which is better utilised out wide. CF play typically doesn’t require pace except in counter attacking teams Like prime Leicester City with Vardy. It will therefore be a waste of pace at CF,particularly in a team like Arsenal which doesn’t have much pace generally. Furthermore,Martinelli hasn’t shown,so far,that he can excel in other aspects of CF play like link Up and hold up. That said,I think he could transition to CF in the future.

    1. Onyango you are of course correct in saying that inverted wingers have become the norm and I am the one with the obsession for a return to conventional wingers.Perhaps you can bear with the memories of an old man when conventional wingers were the guys who could dribble past full backs and create chance after chance by crossing high, or low, on the run.I hope I am wrong, but I don’t see us winning the Premier League this season because we are not creating enough chances.With respect, your assertion regarding a steady stream of low crosses from our three main wide men is not something I recognise..As we do not have attacking full backs who are adept at crossing nor a KDB, I see Odegaard as our main threat in terms of creativity .When he is off or absent we struggle to create and that is my main concern and why I feel we will again come up short in the quest for the big prize.

      1. Grandad agree with you that we’ve been struggling in the creativity department. At the moment,we seem to be relying a lot on corners to score and it’s working but it’s not sustainable. In my opinion, think we’ve struggled creating even with Odegaard. Could it be the system? We’re moving the ball slower and that has given us more control and conceding less but lost an edge attacking wise.The positive,I guess is we are getting results despite not creating lots of chances which bodes well for us if we can maintain that and hopefully peak in the second leg of the season.I understand your preference for conventional wing play and always look forward to your insight of the game-past and present. I only started watching football around 2008 so I might not be well conversant with how the game was played in the past,save for edited clips on Youtube,which of course can’t be a substitute for watching an actual game of football.

        1. I have also observed how our opponents, in every game, double up on both Martinelli and Saka, forcing them inside and, thus, making both players less effective.
          They also have no trouble taking both players out if needs be.
          Last season, it was wonderful to see both players taking on and beating players with pure speed and it would be interesting to see if, by switching wings, that speed would cause havoc once again.

  8. Martinelli is an option up front, he has shown the quality to put the ball in the net

    as Trossard has shown recently

    on top of the regulars Jesus and Nketiah

    add Havertz for height and hold up play variety

    and we find we have both depth and different styles upfront – one of our stronger positions vs the ‘we desperately need a new striker’ narrative some simple minded fans get obsessed with

  9. Martinelli playing CF for Brazil is more out of necessity than choice. It wouldn’t be the case if the likes of Jesus or Richarlison were fit to play.
    If a similar situation arose in Arsenal, I’m sure Arteta would not hesitate to deploy him at CF.

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