When Gabriel Martinelli went down after a challenge from Man City goalkeeper Zack Steffen towards the end of the first half in last night’s 4-1 Carabao Cup defeat, Arsenal fans had hearts in mouths.
The young Brazilian has spent months out with a knee injury, and was starting his first game since the 2-0 FA Cup win over Portsmouth on March 2nd.
He’d been the Gunners brightest player in the first half, providing an assist for Alexandre Lacazette, but looked to be in real pain following the incident.
Somewhat surprisingly, he reemerged for the second period, but not at all surprisingly, he had to come off after just a couple of minutes.
Afterwards, Mikel Arteta insisted that the player was determined to carry on, saying, “It was just a really bad kick on his shin and it was swelling up and he could not continue.
“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.”
Hopefully it doesn’t keep him out of the Chelsea game on Saturday, and the manager was pleased with what he saw from the 19 year old in the first half.
“He has a unique energy and a way to transmit his passion for the game,” he said.
“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.”