What is going on at Arsenal with Gabriel Martinelli? (Opinion)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been overlooking Gabriel Martinelli all-too often of late, and it is a struggle to figure out why…

Last night was the perfect opportunity to throw the youngster some first-team minutes. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka were both rested after their exploits in the Europa League on Thursday, but Willian and Lacazette were preferred to come into the starting eleven.

Our side took a firm grasp on the game 52 minutes in, which again you would have thought would be a great opportunity to give minutes to those who were lacking, and Martinelli was again overlooked.

Instead, after 83 minutes the manager opted to bring Aubameyang on, which was the biggest shock when considering Gabi’s recent lack of playing time, and this has led to some deeper thinking…

The manager is always banging on about his players need to be showing him in training that they are committed to the cause, and putting in the hard work, reiterated when speaking about Willian of late.

The former Chelsea star returned to form this week after a number of below-par performances, and his outing yesterday may have even earned him a break amongst the fans, but what is Martinelli doing wrong?

The coach was asked about his latest snub after the Leicester clash, and I’m still perturbed about why the future star remained an unused substitute on Sunday.

Arteta told reporters after the game (via the Metro): ‘Well he needs to keep working and make it difficult for us [to leave him out].

‘He’s a player that is going to give us a lot but he needs some time.

‘We need to find the right games for him and the right connections for him on the pitch to do what he can do best.

‘But the way he is, the way he trains every day, he’s going to be a really important player for us, no doubt.

‘But when you have many options on the bench it’s difficult when you look for certain qualities in certain games.’

Either we are missing something here, or the manager is simply avoiding using him for absolutely no reason at all apart from because he can.

Martinelli has shown passion, ability, and crazy raw talent, and should at least be able to get 20 minutes of action a week with our hectic playing schedule at present.

Do we think Gabi has done something behind the scenes to upset the manager? Could Arteta be risking the player’s happiness by continually overlooking him?


Tags Gabriel Martinelli mikel arteta


  1. I just don’t want to believe he is having a problem with the manager. I know his time will come. We all remember Arteta started him a few times when he came back from injury but he seem to pick up the injury again. He was even injured during warm up before a game weeks ago…. I want to believe arteta is protecting him and trying to handle his injury well. We also don’t know if he is fully fit. I stand to be corrected though but I think we will see him start some games and he will come from the bench in games sooner than later..

    1. He rolled his ankle, can happen to anyone at anytime.

      He’s been fit for around a month already so the excuse of protection is out of the window. You can only build up match fitness by playing matches as obvious as it sounds.

  2. He won’t be a future star at Arsenal if he keep sitting on bench. If he decide to seek play time somewhere else Arsenal will lose a successor of Aubameyang and potentially more than £100 millions in transfer fee. If put on the market now there won’t be any big club that won’t want him, imagine when he is a regular starter and with goals to his name.

    I don’t buy the protection excuse it doesn’t make any sense.

    Clearly Arteta is the manager but my confidence that he knows what he is doing has diminished seeing our state in his first full season.

    1. What state is that hero? Won two trophies in his first full year on the job amid a global pandemic which has caused the club to start hemorrhaging money which in turn has made it almost impossible to bring in the guys he wants…this site is turning into arsenal tv or whatever those clowns are called I swear 60% suffer from bi polar disorder.. the guy gets a promotion and a raise and a month later there are articles on here that he has to win the Benfica game or he’s fired lol.. to you old timers on here; you have to understand that this iteration of the PL is not the same as before… there is so much money now that there are no gimmes anymore, the so called lower teams have good players and are owned by billionaires so they don’t have to sell if they don’t want to…some of you were calling Ozil a Arsenal legend like you only remembered the 25% of the games he played well and the other 75% apparently didn’t happen..watch what happens when Partey gets to 100% this will be a different and much better team..Martinelli’s time will come, probably next year after we cash in on Lacca

      1. Well said Sean. We just need to accept that nothing MA does will ever be good enough for some people. It’s actually mostly old-timers that are saying it will take patience, as we are aware there is no quickfix to our long decline. It’s predominantly younger “fans” who expect everything immediately, think it’s all so simple: everything bad that happens is Artetas fault, and everything good… well they don’t believe anything IS good. if we kick MA out today, we will win the EPL tomorrow. Not the most optimistic bunch of people, and they prefer moaning and criticism to praise.
        I honestly don’t know why they watch football if it makes them so miserable.

        1. “Well said Sean. We just need to accept that nothing MA does will ever be good enough for some people.”

          Can you tell me just one thing of importance he has done this season? 11th on the table last I checked and out of all cups.

          1. Hero, last I checked he came in saying that this was a multi year rebuilding job and that was before COVID..Maureen on the other hand came in saying they were going to win all kinds of trophies..well one of them actually did..I don’t know what you consider important but what’s important to me is whether or not they show improvement..I think they have and I believe most rational fans would agree..if even 3 of those ridiculous red cards weren’t given our place in the table would be much different..Leicester in 3rd West Ham 4th, it’s been a crazy year..but going further between those teams and ours would you trade their team and their coach for ours? Come on man

          2. Sean there had to be improvements for me to believe that Arteta is going in the right direction and so far it has been the opposite of that.

            I was pro Arteta up to few weeks ago and I am not Arteta out yet but come end of season if there is no European football what will be the justification of him continuing managing Arsenal?

            It has been more than 1 year since he took over and so far I have seen nothing to indicate things are going to change.

        2. this man has , together with the board, destroyed the club. It is going to take a long, long time before we become top 4. Not so long ago top 4 was not acceptable… We are now a “mid table” club

      2. Sean the pandemic has affected all teams but the likes of Aston Villa who are poorer than us and with all due respect have inferior players are doing just okay.

        1. Please which Aston Villa players are inferior to ours? And what standard or stats did you come to that conclusion?

          1. Last season Aston Villa missed relegation by one point. 1 POINT! Let that sink in! Seeing their improvement this season their rebuilding tools must be alien technology. Except for Emiliano and Jack which Aston Villa players are superior to ours?

      3. What Ozil did in the other 75% of the games when he wasn’t brilliant is subjective Sean. His role was not to pass the ball from side to side so the likes of Xhaka and Elneny are not fit to tie his boots. Still there are very few players who can boast that they were brilliant 25% of the time

      1. Because he hasn’t given me any reason to be pro Arteta. Do you expect me to glorify him when he is taking the club to the ground? That will be madness!

  3. He probably didn’t do anything wrong.
    Unlike Wenger and Emery, Arteta isn’t the type of manager that makes changes just for the sake of rotation and giving minutes to players that need them.
    If it’s possible Arteta keeps all starting players after a win, physical or mental fitness makes no role in the decision. He changes the squad in cases of injury, suspension or returning bad performance.
    For a Mikel-tpye manager this squad is way too huge. The wide selection choices don’t make his life any easier, and they make the life of the fringe players definitely harder.
    And when Arsenal is on a winning streak, then not only Nelson, Mari and Nketiah, but players like Martinelli, Lacazette, Pepe and Ceballos turn out to be squad players.

    1. So why did he rest Saka and Auba against Leicester? And to be honest, most managers are loathe to change a winning team.
      MA is criticised when he changes a team, and criticised when he doesnt. Do you thing Pepe and Willian would have been Men of the Match if, contrary to what fans demanded, he hadn’t continued to gave them game time even though their form was so bad? Be honest – you will argue against any decisions he makes, regardless of whether or not he is proven right.

      1. Not at all, Guy.
        While it may be true that Arteta gets criticized when he is making a change as well as when he isn’t, thos critics don’t come from the same people.

        I personally like a small and balanced team where the first choice players get 2500-3000 minutes a season, but even the fringe players get 1000-1500. I was against the crazy 31 head strong squad this season from the beginning, especially the 9 CBs, but I appreciated the trimming – albeit economically terrible – in January.

        I’m not against Mikel per se, trying to only criticize him when ‘deserved’. With regards to Pepe and Willian contrary to your accusation I in fact happy that they were playing. They need the minutes and Saka was getting consistently overplayed. My critic is about the treatment of Nelson who also need and deserve first team minutes, but that argument would bring us back to the squad size topic again.

  4. Martinelli has too many competitors for the CF role, such as Lacazette, Aubameyang and Nketiah. On the left wing, he’s got Aubameyang, Willian and Smith-Rowe

    So he’d only get his chance next year, when some of those attackers leave or get relegated to squad rotation role

        1. Play Martinelli on LW and Aubameyang or Lacazette CF

          Rotation should mean he gets some playing time. EL at least

          1. I think Martinelli has the potential to be a great inverted LW like Sanchez and Neymar, but he’d need to play alongside a good target man

            If Martinelli can start the game with Lacazette in at least five matches, they could form a good partnership. Like what Lacazette has with Smith-Rowe and Saka

      1. I’m down with you ahmad73, Nketiah’s never a competitor 2 Gabby, he’s only playing his community slot, nothing more.

  5. Honestly the “protection” thing rings a bit hollow in my opinion.

    Tierney goes right back in after an injury, even after his long layoff when he signed & his first appearance.

    Partey right back to get re-injured, now coming in & getting minutes.

    Luiz cracked his head, but only missed couple of games.

    We don’t know the inside workings of the club, so hard to accurately say.

    However, Martinelli is levels about Willian in effort and intensity, no one disagrees with that, so the “work” excuse doesn’t fly on the face of things.

    1. Tierney, Partey and Luiz are all seasoned and accomplished professionals. Martinelli just moved here from lower leagues Brazil..Now that Ozil is gone his fanboys have now found his replacement….”why isn’t Martinelli playing we would have won if he did” or “the cone guy has lost the plot he isn’t accomplished enough to coach and mentor a talent like Martinelli”..lol..all joking aside, 70% of you on this site need to seek professional help…I’m available if you need to talk 😉😏😌

      1. Saka is same age as Martinelli yet gets plenty of games.

        Martinelli “just moved from lower leagues in Brazil” had 10 goals and 5 assists in limited time before his injury last year.

        If you were intimating he needs time to adapt, he goal and assist talley would say otherwise.

        No one knows except Arteta, but the player clearly said he’s 100%, so curious fans ask why.

    2. well said Durand. The argument doesn’t hold. And if Martinelli is just simply injured, he would be in the treatment room and not on the bench for a whole month. Arteta is just making a very dumb call because of his ego most likely and something happened behind-the-scenes. Same thing with Saliba probably. Players just randomly get banished for real rhyme or reason with Arteta. Two top young talents that he seems fine with ignoring.

    3. Spot on Durand! His style of play is what we need in the team energy, running , pressing and scoring . And arteta is afraid he will get injured with all this commitments. He wants him to slow down!

  6. For me martenilli guendozi sake esr Saliba
    Mavropanos Tierney Niles Nelson and some of the other younger players are the future of this squad. Xhaka Auba Lacazette Luiz Bellerin Elneny William have shown us that they are close or already yesterday’s players. The latter player in reality maybe have one more season at the top, challenging for the title/champions league. So Arteta if he is the man for the long term needs to see this and should be trying to integrate them into the squad. Of course we need to have some of the older and more experienced players in with the younger players but these will be the players we rely on for the next 5 years so keep them happy. Make them feel as if they belong and make them know that they are the future.
    Once a player believe the manager doesn’t believe in them, rates them then in there own mind they will start to believe they have to get away from the club and go somewhere where they are needed and wanted. That’s a dangerous thing. We have a lot of exciting young talent, I hope he doesn’t lose them

  7. I often criticise Patricks articles as not worthwhile. HOWEVER, this time his questionare certinly worth adsking and to my mins also pertiment ones. It does seem areaol puzle why Martinelli gets virtyally no real opportunity to show his skills and I seriously have to wonder what is behind this clear managerial decision to starve him of opportunity.

    I do not know the answerwhy but all my instincts and life experience scream out to me that SOMETHING tangible is behind this puzzling decison.

    Hopefully, the reason will soon be revealed. But the questions DEFINITELY need asking, so for once, well done PATRICK.

    1. I posted something I heard on another topic Jon, and in a way I hope it’s fact. One thing I am sure about is that it’s not a “grudge” exclusion.
      I heard that GM doesnt think he’s injured, but medical staff keep detecting muscle niggles, probably linked to the last major injury. Theyre borderline and he trains, but he is so committed in actual games they fear a recurrence. Unlike Tierney, Partey, Luiz mentioned by Durand he is not AN ESSENTIAL player, so for a while they are pursuading MA to use him as little as possible.

      1. guy, well lets hope that IS the reason. It adds up when you think about it and one thing it is NOT is a grudge.

        The ludicrous idea that some kids on here put about that MA holds grudges is typical juvenile “thinking” and profoundly stupid.

        I get so irritated with “wet behind the ears”, know nothing juveniles and admit to not suffering fools gladly.

  8. Maybe because of Arteta’s age, he doesn’t see himself as a coach and tutor to these players. He just picks up offense against these young players unnecessarily and hide behind work rate each time he’s been questioned about it. He has managed to form a cabal and favouritism in Arsenal team, it’s there for every eye to see. Once he doesn’t like you that means you are not good enough to play for his team. Maybe he inherited that style from Guardiola, you can ask Ibrahimovic, Yaya Toure and some other good players Guardiola had displaced and disgraced in his team. Martinelli agent will soon be looking for options.

  9. It’s odd that he isn’t getting any game time in the U23s. He must be desperate for some competitive football.

    I do think the decision to give him a contract on 90k a week (if accurate) was premature given that he is a teenager who has shown flashes of brilliance (notably that wonder goal last year) but nothing sustained.

    Hopefully it’s a case of being overly cautious on a player who may need to learn to play within himself if he is going to have a long career.

    1. Spot on Trudeau – see my other post. He’s similar to Willshere in his football exuberance, and with his injury history that’s a bad mix.

      1. guy, your medical explanation makes sense, given Martinelli is not getting games in the U23’s as well.

  10. To me putting Auba on instead of Martinelli made perfect sense, even though I wanted to see Martinelli play. Auba is way more experienced than Martinelli, and I can only begin to imagine the headlines if we had subbed on young players and blown that lead. Leicester isn’t exactly a bad team. Besides Auba is returning to form, Martinelli hasn’t even scored in the EPL this season so if the intent was to threaten to counterattack that makes a lot of sense to me.

    I am also a bit worried about Martinelli’s mental state. I have seen every game he was in since he came back and I remember seeing him in tears more than once. If I was Arteta I would also have that on my mind, but nothing in the statements Arteta have made seem to suggest that Martinelli isn’t a big part of the future.

    Finally we don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. Martinelli is a young man far away from home so there might be reasons for him not playing that Arteta won’t talk about, and rightly so.

    1. I can very well assure you, if that lead was blown, it won’t be because Martinelli was subbed on in the 83rd minutes

    2. How do you expect him to score if he doesn’t play? How many games has he started so far!

  11. Arteta’s job security is results based, so he wouldn’t jepardise his employment by deliberately holding back a worthy player. The few minutes he’s had this season haven’t been very productive and my guess is that he’s not impressed enough to get regular selection and we all know there’s potentially a world class player in Martinelli, so it’s up to him to show his worth.

    1. Willian kept having unproductive minutes yet kept having more, please that’s not an excuse cos what is good for the goose is good for the gander so just like Willian and Pepe if a player lacks confidence you kept playing them to build confidence that Arteta has shown esp. with Willian.
      The truth be told something went wrong behind the scene cos we know Martinelli is a workaholic so work rate such can’t be the reason. Arteta has largely failed with man managing our youths and future of the team, Saliba, Guedozzi, Balogun and now Martinelli in just a short while

    2. Good call Jax – in his last two games after injury he was poor – maybe he has lost form. People confuse great potential with being a great player now, which he isn’t.

  12. Surprised a lot of you guys don’t know arteta by now, he doesn’t like working with young players, he prefers the very hold one like mourinho. He hasn’t brought any young player through by giving them quality game time. Saka and ESR were brought through by emery. Nketia, willock, nelson were brought through by wenger. Look at what he did to saliba, guendouzie, balogun and now martinelli, you think it’s a coincidence?. I don’t believe his ramblings anymore.

  13. Like Guy, I agree with your assessment Jax. I may be wrong, but I feel Martinelli may yet make it as an attacking midfielder, as he has bags of energy to go with his skill.He reminds me of Mount at Chelsea, who is developing into a fine player . As always, time will tell.

  14. Not playing him will surely hamper is confidence and form, Martinelli or balogun should at least be getting 10 minutes or more in some of our games, lacazette may not want to sign new contract aubameyang is no longer consistent like he use to, we need this kids to start playing now or we lose them and regret it in the near future

    1. Martinelli is 19 years old. He came direct from a minor Brazilian side to a team fielding ex-captain Luiz and Willian, Swiss captain Xhaka and Aubamayang. He is a humble, hardworking professional on a great contract, and he has recently come back from a bad injury. Since he came back he got injured again, and hasn’t had one good game this season.

      Yes I’m sure he’s looking to leave.

      Balogun is 19 and almost totally unproven at senior level, He has been offered a very fair contract, but his agent, who is renowned for his brinkmanship on contracts, wants more, including guaranteed playing time. We have recently been blackmailed or been stupid enough to give into inflated demands of established senior players and faced ridicule. Now you want to do this for a raw 19 year old? No club in threir right mind guarantees match time to raw kids.

      I dispair at some of the stupid and simplistic comments I am reading here.

      1. The comments which you read are NOT stupid and simplistic.

        They’re simply as a result of large portions of the fan-base lacking trust in the manager (,and justifiably so).

        In his stint as manager so far, Arteta has managed to deliver our worst start to a season in a long time. He currently has us sitting in mid-table with our only hopes of an acceptable season hanging on a very improbable Europa League triumph.

        Given all this, it is astonishing that some on this site still give him full backing!

        He has consistently displayed poor judgement regarding player selections and tactics and I would encourage us all who care about this club to keep question his decisions.

        The criticism is fully justified given our current shambolic state.

        1. Many of the comments are indeed simplistic in my view. No doubt many fans lack trust in the manager. Whether this is justifiable is very debatable given the players he has at his disposal and the circumstances of this season.
          Those still backing Arteta have clearly weighed things up and feel he should be given more time to build a team.
          Those young players fans are so fond of still have time to prove themselves and if they do they will be in the team.

      2. Well how do you justify a nothing like Elneny bring given so much game time. Has he earned it,? Couldn’t Maitland Niles have at least been given an opportunity to show that he is not a full back. No it’s clear that Arteta plays favorites . He also needs to grow up as a man.

      3. Guy what’s wrong about Gb age ? The Boy played and was on double figures before injury. Saka is playing and has the same age!

  15. Martinelli, Seliba, Maitland-Niles, Gouendouzi, and Nelson are on the same boat. We’ve got talented youngsters who can take this team to greater heights in years to come, but Arteta is the stumbling block. I really don’t know when Arteta will be fired, because he’s destroying the team. How can a talented manager build a team with 30+yrs players?

    1. Good question. Someone should ask Pep how he manages to do it with Fernandinho, Aguero, Walker, Mahrez and Gundegan all on the wrong side of 30 and de Bruyne celebrating the milestone in June.

    2. he’ll have a bad start to next season and then be gone. Doubt there will be a decent manager available to replace him. I think we all know exactly where this Arteta experiment is heading and it’s not to a UCL spot.

  16. If not that Mikel arteta is stupid why shouldn’t he use a player like martinelli even if it is 15 minute to the end of the game

  17. It’s no coincidence that since the time that he was taking off at half, for some peculiar, non-injury related reason, more than a month ago, that something has happened between the manager and the player…then he sends out an Ozilesque tweet about being healthy and raring to go, which was clearly done with the intent to raise questions from within the fanbase, and ever since that time he’s struggled to even see the field as a late game substitute…all I know is that if this manager has possibly jeopardized our future success due to his inability to man-manage his blue chip prospects or as a result of contractual promises that were wrongly given to veteran or on loan players, this could have some serious long-term consequences should he not survive these somewhat turbulent times…after all, the reason we are where we are is because of similar choices made by Wenger during his post-Dein tenure

  18. There has been rumors that gabi is the kind of player that keeps playing until his body breaks down with a serious injury. Wouldn’t be surprising given his attitude and workrate. If he is still carrying niggling injuries then i support arteta decision to not risk him unless you want another wilshere situation.

  19. I’m fine with Martinellii not being rushed after what was a serious long term injury. He did look a little clumsy in his last start and may not have impressed the manager who was probably looking for a more team focused display. It could have been that he was trying too hard to impress and both brain and body were in a different place. What I do word about however is Arteta’s seemingly old fashioned dislike of players who have attitude and do not pay him the right respect. It could be a case of Yes Don Mikeal, No Don Mikeal, Kiss your Arsenal Don Mikeal. Let’s hope Don Mikeal is bigger than that.

    1. We don’t want him rushed joe, all we want is for.him to be given minutes on the pitch to regain full march fitness and their is no better time to do that than when you are winning a game

  20. As anyone read wilshere article about him regretting not listening to the physio more. For GM, The boy had surgery last season, he his 19. He needs to recover fully otherwise will be another wilshere.

  21. It also happened when MA first arrived, he was in a great form and he was moved to wing and benched then picked injury.

  22. I’ve read all the comments posted. And what I think the Gooners who are glamouring for Martinelli to be given chance by Arteta to allow him restart getting game playing time should all exercise patience and wait to see what action Arteta will take on their complains to him to resume engaging Martinelli in game for Arsenal.

    I believe Mikel Arteta is a listening Arsenal manager who does listen to his constituency i.e. the Gooners forum speaking trough JustArsenal will act sooner than later on this matter that has been raised up. And as a result, he might want to put the matter to bed. Us could see him reacting by starting or play Martinelli away to 8urnley in the PL on Saturday or away to Olympiakos in the Europa League.

  23. How can a player be on the bench for a month yet is said not to be fit…
    Why make the bench in the first place
    It took a red card from Auba. For Arteta to give martineli his first chance when he came
    Ever since then I knew that martineli is not one he wants to work with…..
    Many of our young stars are out of favor with him surely it can’t be a coincident
    I am began doubting his ability to manage the kids long ago
    If smith had came into this team earlier our position in the league would have improved but it was actually injuries that made him stumble upon smith when everyone was shouting for him to be given his chance.
    We have so many young talents it pains seeing only saka when there is another one of him in the squad

  24. I am reminded of Alex Oxlade C who would throw himself into tackles with abandon and kept getting injured. Remember when he was away with England and crocked his knee in training? He was another one who was unhappy about not playing, but was actually his own worst enemy. He hasn’t done much better at pool has he?
    Gabi needs to be patient.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs