Arteta: I love Gabi more than all of you

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Mikel Arteta has defended his use of Gabriel Martinelli this season and insists he’s the Brazilian striker’s biggest fan.

The 19-year-old was handed his sixth Premier League start of the season at St James’ Park and enjoyed a fruitful afternoon laying on a goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners against Newcastle.

Martinelli began the game playing off the left flank and later moved into a central role when Aubameyang was substituted with 15 minutes remaining. The boss thinks he’s showing promise in both positions.

“Gabi is improving every week,” he told his post-game press conference.

“He’s taking his minutes in the right way and he’s developing the way we all believe he can.

“Today he had an assist, which was an important moment, and he had some good moments off the left – and also trying to play as a No 9 as well.”

He added: “Time will tell [if he’s a number 9] but I would like to develop him in both positions because I think he’s got the potential to do both.”

Arteta has been criticised this season for not using Martinelli enough since he returned from his serious knee problem.

After returning to action in December, he played just 53 minutes in the league between January and the middle of March. More regular game time has been forthcoming in recent weeks leading Arteta to bullishly defend his decision.

“Just look at how much he’s played in the last few years,” said Arteta.

“Then how much he’s played with me when he’s available. Then we can discuss that. It’s what happens. This debate is always happening when you don’t win.

“If it’s not him, it will be someone else. If it’s not Gabi, it will be Lacazette, Willian or Pepe. It’s part of it.”

The boss also touched on the connections Martinelli is making with his teammates. His assist for Aubameyang speaks to a growing understanding between the pair and the Brazilian has also done well adapting to whoever is playing behind him at left-back.

“Yeah it is a connection [with Aubameyang],” said Arteta.

“Having Granit behind him helps him in a way because he’s more in the line, in the last line on the left where he is more comfortable. With Kieran it’s a little bit different.

“Those relationships are ones we have to built. If there are any doubts, I love Gabi so much. More than all of you together!”

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David

That’s last part is a response to Keown’s comments must be.

Jack

That’s exactly what I thought.

It made me laugh when he said that though.

David C

We have a great player on our hands. I don’t mind that we aren’t over playing him. The lad has had some injuries too.

Gabigol

Exactly if it was Unai he would have run him into the ground like he did with Hector

A Different George

Keown is an awful analyst and not worth listening to. It’s only because he played for Arsenal that anyone here would not view this as obvious.

Applomask

I hope xhaka slips on dog poo he awful man I seen him kick a pigeon

backsakacrack

Totally agree
Maybe it’s harsh but he is the crutch of the club. We just cannot seem to move on from him. Nothing will change here until he leaves.

Kartik Iyer

If he was fast enough to kick a pigeon he wouldn’t be having all the problems he’s had with the fans so far. He’s a warrior for this team. You may not think he’s good enough for us, but you can’t question his commitment. He deserves respect for not hiding and giving it his all if nothing else.

No foot Norbert

More of a beserker, he’s so rash it’s annoying to watch. Wouldn’t mind him has a squad player but definitely shouldn’t be starting. Respect for his fighting attitude but less respect for his hot headedness.

Inspector norse

Granit Xhaka have been our best midfielder for years, also this year, Partey has shown higher level, but not the same consistency, because of injuries new league etc, but still Xhaka has been better. So who should start if not Xhaka ? It always shows in our game when he is not playing, and it’s for the worse, thats just empirical fact. Could and should we do better ? Sure, but at this time we dont have better, so obviously he plays.

karl

Yes. It was hard to imagine an Arsenal player that rarely gets injured before Xhaka.

Daveo

The fact that Xhaka “has been our best midfielder for years” sums up our problems about as perfectly as could be done. Xhaka is solidly a 6 or 7 out of 10, a constant red card/penalty risk, and makes us susceptible to the counter. And that is as good as we have had (until Partey, who is clearly better – despite a few inconsistencies). Arsenal through and through.

Inspector norse

Agree, but just because he isn’t up to the standard we would like don’t make it especially clever to replace him with someone even worse. And to be fair some of his problems have been down to tactics, our midfield has been as empty as cold cold space for years, he has been forced to take many regrettable actions because of a lack of a partner, proper cover and an utter vaccum in midfield in general. He is and always have been a deep lying playmaker, not a defensive midfielder. The DLP stuff he actually does pretty good, even great.

Daveo

Not sure why Mo’-Partey combo hasn’t been used more. Together they produced one of our best midfield performances of the year against Manure. We know Mo has his limitations, but it’s about combinations, and what he provides supplements Partey beautifully. Same as Partey drawing significant attention in midfield frees up space for Xhaka, he’s 100% been better alongside Partey. DLP is one thing, but if you need to play a DM alongside a DLP then you create holes in midfield and between the lines. Thus, in the modern game a DLP only really works in a very slow tempo league… Read more »

Inspector norse

Yeah i dont think Pl really suites him to be honest, he was great in bundesliga though.
Elneny- partey combo worked in a game were we pretty much parked the bus, don’t get me wrong i really like Elneny, but i think we need a little more from our number one pairing in midfield.

santi's thigh grab

Yes but that’s not Xhaka’s fault. He’s an Arsenal player, so we should support him and his efforts which are exemplary as a professional. We can do both, wish we had a more rounded player who had greater recovery speed and support Xhaka as the professional player he is for Arsenal. Arteta understands his limitations and manages around them. He’s a good squad player and we should keep him until its time to sell. Tired of all the edgy takes on on Xhaka and so called supporters wishing him ill.

Arsefan

Maybe we’re mid table team now because our “best players” are shit

Inspector norse

Take a look at Aston villa this season and last season, or Sheffield united. Are the players suddenly not shit, or shit in the case of SU , What is the cause of the sudden transformation from shit or not shit or from not shit to shit ? Are there other factors do you think that make the team less competitive ?

IamaGoober

I definitely think his attitude is commendable. The volume of stick he has received over the last few seasons does clearly highlight some serious mental fortitude to continue to play week in week out. That being said, I do tend to agree with those statements around his general level or quality as player. He is extremely flawed as we all know. But I kinda feel that’s all been done to death at this point, so doesn’t really serve any purpose continuing to bring it up at this stage given Mikel will play him regardless. I do hope though at the… Read more »

magirlyeyes

If not hiding is nearly getting a second yellow for a blatant shoulder barge then fair enough.
He may be a warrior, but he is a liability. He has single-handedly cost us 6 points this season in both Burnley games.
No team above us has such a leaden-footed midfielder anywhere near their starting XI. That says it all.

VAgooner

Have you SEEN what we look like without him in midfield? Who would you replace him with? Divey-cheat Ceballos?

goonshow

No – the bloke who had 98% pass success today (and scored our opener).
The bloke who is more solid, faster to recover, and – on that showing vs Manure – is the perfect foil to Partey.

On the right path?

I’m a fan of Elneny… but that don’t make him good enough. Too many below average games and very few classy performances like that one against manure

DPK

I would agree that we will not compete with the top sides with Xhaka as a first 11 player……but replacing him with Elneny? Get real lads. Xhaka should be a squad player, Elneny isn’t even that

Applomask

I hope some one put hot sauce on your pee hole. I object your reality in substitute of my own

DPK

I need some tp for my bunghole

The Arsenal

This is the problem though. Xhaxa is our biggest problem being that he is our most important player. Luiz also showed how important his passing is from the back. They need to be replaced by modern versions of themselves.

Ealing

And faster

santi's thigh grab

No back-up left back. No starting right back. An experienced back-up striker (assuming Laca is gone this summer). We also need two additional mid-field players if we aren’t going to use any of those out on loan. These positions need to be filled before Xhaka is replaced.

Hank Scorpio

We definitely need an upgrade on Xhaka to partner Partey BUT of the available players we only have one decent midfield pairing and that is Xhaka and Partey. We need to either upgrade on Xhaka in the summer or ensure adequate backup. Whether that is internally solved or by bringing in a player or 2, we need an upgrade on Elneny and to never see Ceballos again.

Martin R

The second Burnley game was all about our biggest liability who is Leno. It was a hospital pass which put Xhaka in a difficult position. Xhaka hasn’t been a liability for a very long time and has hardly put a foot wrong since his return from suspension. Haters will always create fiction

DPK

‘Haters will always create fiction’ …..indeed you do Martin, big of you to own it to be fair !

Gunner08

This is some of the most dislikes I’ve ever seen! Well done mate.

Applomask

It’s what I was going for

Mpls

What a sad goal.

Gunnerer

5 years back: Arsenal are too docile, people walk over us
Now. Why are we so rash?
Guys its a process!

see the amount of minutes out of position he’s clocking without complaint, and find me top level players who are doing that. He’s always making himself available for a pass, never hiding. Sure there are weaknesses to his game, but have some respect.

Cechmate

Xhaka is an enigma and one of many players that we have, who would very good in other leagues but not in PL, as this moves at one notch higher than other leagues. I’ve always said – right the Professor’s time that Xhaka is the piece that needs attention first, as without being able to control the play from midfield we aren’t going to challenge for top honours. I’ll never warm up to him, but I respect him. Despite knowing he is not appreciated, in fact abused on the contrary, that man has never walked away or lacked in motivation.… Read more »

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

That’s nothing to what I’ve seen pigeons do to my balcony. I’d like to see all the pigeons that plague my life move to their new champion’s home. Enjoy watching the kick-free birdies.

Edu Gaspar's Network

I watched the video and he was not happy being asked questions about Martinelli. He looked really annoyed. I would not take this at face value. Martinelli would have been more involved over the season under a manager who knows how to handle young players with potential.

Honestly, how can he justify starting Willian over Reiss Nelson?

Lanre

Honestly he just comes across as arrogant. Never admits he’s wrong on anything. Emery birthed all these youngsters into the 1st team and all Mikel has done since he got here is hold them back. Nelson, Maitland Niles, Saliba all have been poorly managed. It’s a miracle Balogun is still around and i put that down to Edu. Mikel is a poor, poor man manager, all that shit about him being responsible for Sterling and Sane hitting form is hot garbage, based on what we have seen so far. Arsenal deserves a better manager. In the mean time, we keep… Read more »

goonshow

Freddie deserves the real credit for all our current crop of youngsters.

bob

Like he said, if it isn’t Martinelli then it’s someone else, and off you go to instantly prove it. What has Reiss done to demand a chance? Arteta’s actually given Reiss a lot of chances and he has rarely had any impact. Consequently, Arteta suggested him to go on loan, to learn to influnce games at a level above U23, which he declined and so has not progressed. Look at Willock, absolutely demanding to be played when he returns (since Newcastle is a hollow shell when he can’t play!) Reiss has never had that level of impact and hasn’t shown… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

Firstly Nelson was played in a handful of games as part of a patchwork team, none of which featured a genuine number 10 – that only came after Arteta accidentally had success with ESR. The only decent wide man at that time was Saka. Who says you can’t play 2 younger wingers? What is this massive risk you speak of and would the consequences be an even lower league position than our current plight? Willian has been found wanting in these so called key moments. Suggesting a choice has to be made between Martinelli and Nelson is nothing more than… Read more »

Jarghs

I’m not sure fans will have a debate if Willian doesn’t get the game time, but otherwise I get his point about fans looking to players who aren’t featuring. I remember the same thing with Joel Campbell towards the end of Arsene’s tenure.

WALTERDIX

Joel Campbell was decent player

santi's thigh grab

No he wasn’t, revisionism. He had a brilliant career after Arsenal eh.

Daveo

Why is Willian playing over Balogun? Like what reason do we have to play a guy that looks more washed than a kitchen in a OCD’s house in a game worth so little? This was about as nothing a game as we can possibly get (and of course, pure Arsenal we win again [sigh]). Why not play Balogun and see what we got. Willian was fine, helped retain possession, but we’ve seen enough.

arseblog

Because they play in different positions. The better question might be why is Nelson not playing ahead of Willian.

Daveo

Balogun is a striker/winger. He could have easily been worked into this team (or at least off the bench) in place of Willian. I mean I get the balance thing might be a bit funny, but really who cares at this point. This win is just hollow and no better chance to give some of the kids a run (particularly Balogun).

Nelson, yeah I kind of gave up on Arteta playing Nelson months ago. It’s clear he needs to move on if he’s to play football again.

Lanre

It’s Arteta who needs to move on. I dread the amount of damage he would have done to the team and these kids by the time the inevitable sack comes. Coz we all know it’s coming, probably next summer.

Dave

Arteta has given so many young players a chance.

Beef

Why is Inanimate Carbon Rod not playing ahead of Willian?

TeeCee

He lacks Willian’s positional discipline…

Sauce

That’s Arteta saying just what he’s supposed to say.. don’t expect him to come out to say
”well, i consider him the last in the pecking order in his position” especially after he’s had a blinder of a game

Frank Bascombe

With your access to the training ground and whatnot, you’re in a good position to make that statement. Otherwise, it’d just a mug on the internet talking shit.

Atom

People post comments like yours all the time but games should matter more than training. We’ve watched Willian flounder virtually this entire season yet routinely start in front of Pepe & Martinelli, both who routinely out performed him in games. No, fans don’t have access to training. But that doesn’t mean their opinions are completely invalid either.

Jarghs

I bet Martinelli’s mum loves him more than Arteta

Mentalista

He’s certainly more protective of Gabriel… I bet his mum would let him play outside for longer.

C.B.

Probably, though she is bound to be attracted to a good looking guy like Arteta…

Swede

Loving the Arteta clap back ^^ bout time

TungorAdams

Arteta has no gain in holding quality back, especially when results are bad and calls for changes are alarming from ex gunner legends. Thankfully he has integrity, not allowing those calls to steer his judgment, young players has to be carefully nurtured into 1st team football, and not exploited at high risk to save a team/manager like Wilshere was.

Glen Helders Left Foot

He’s shown alot of poor judgement in the last couple of years and your Wilshire comment would make sense if he wasn’t for the fact he’s flogging saka

Der32

To be fair Saka was on the bench today. But yeah I agree Martinelli should definitely be playing more, even Reiss could do with more game time.

TungorAdams

Martinelli has had his struggles with injuries, Saka has been really fit. while I agree Bukayo’s no of games calls for caution, Hel also proves my 1st point, Arteta is not holding quality back, he eased Saka into it last spring, and looks to have judged well(fingers crossed) in his readiness to play 1st team football regularly

TungorAdams

Disagree on the poor judgement part, he is brave enough to demand all players to work hard, to commit, or look for a new club. That is a massive statement, with the desire to change our mentality. Mistakes? ofcourse he does, and he is learning on the job, but he seems intelligent enough to learn quickly, and knowledgeable and energetic enough to become a great manager. If he does it with us is down to our patience, both with team rebuild and his ability to get this ship straight. Next season it has to start showing

Sam

“Just look at how much he’s played in the last few years,” said Arteta. “Then how much he’s played with me when he’s available” But he was younger when Emery was in charge. It is normal that someone plays more when they’re 19 than when they are 18. Also Emery underused him too I hear lots of pundits saying ‘its great what Arteta is doing with the youngsters’ and ‘its great he’s giving youth a chance’ He doesn’t give the youngsters enough of a chance. He waited ages before giving smith rowe a game. End of last season at times… Read more »

TungorAdams

He can’t bench all senior players and start our youngsters at once. It’s just not doable, regardless of the lack of form of senior players. We have one of the youngest starting elevens regularly, but also have a few senior players that need to be on top for us to truly challenge for things, Auba is one of them, Laca was another, Pepe, and for sometime Arteta hoped Willian would be as well. While it is extremely frustrating to see our top earning expected to be leaders struggle for consistency, Arteta has to balance getting them into form with allowing… Read more »

Geoffrey Luyuku

Arteta doesn’t know how good martinelli is otherwise he wouldn’t have benched him against Villarreal ! He is not sure of him

Rich

The Martinelli not playing outrage, was always a storm in a teacup

Whenever a team is losing or not playing well, it’s always fans default position to pin their hopes on an injured player returning, or a player who’s not been involved

Wouldn’t surprise me if we let Lacazette + Nketiah go this summer, and used internal replacements of Martinelli + Balogun

It’s also difficult to play a lot of inexperienced players all at once, we need to remember Saka is 19 and Smith-Rowe 20

Takeshita

Ya a bit like the Miyachi situation if anyone remembers during the Wenger era when all hopes were pinned on a lad who had played high school football here in Nagoya, Japan.

But Martinelli is a different beast altogether; he deserves more game time.

Also I was hoping that the other kid Azeez would have got some mins today ahead of Ceballos who is anyways leaving.

loose_cannon

The Joel Campbell Effect basically, a player that’s not being used becomes a world beater in their absence due to their team’s current struggles.

Daveo

Sorry disagree on the last sentence, Saka and ESR (along with Martinelli, Tierney, Gabriel and Odergaard) have all performed and earned their minutes as they have not only been better than “experience”, but work hard and have behaved better on and off the pitch (red card brain farts, going AWOL, penalties). If they are good enough they are old enough. There is easily enough “experience” in Partey, Chambers, Bellerin/Cedric, Auba/Laca, (and Xhaka) to more or less play the remaining team as younger guys anyway. People are sick of seeing this excuse when the results being produced by “experience” are so… Read more »

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner

If only tou didn’t overplay Saka & ESM and only of you didn’t give Nketiah more chances than he deserved…then you would have been more believable…

MojoWillneny

If Arteta loves him so much he needs to play him. Also, piss on all the dissing of Elneny. He retains the ball much better than all of our midfielders barring Partey, he commits the least amount of massive midfield mistakes bar Partey, and he scores more goals than Xhaka and Ceballos. Dissing Elneny is a reflex not born of any real analysis of how bad his competition is, again, barring Partey. Lastly, I know Odegaard has a great deal of talent and he’s had not time to adapt to English football, but I don’t know if he’s better than… Read more »

Daveo

On Elneny I 100% agree. The partnership with him and either Xhaka or Ceballos has been tried enough to prove it rarely works, but he’s been excellent alongside Partey and I’d argue his skill set (mobility, ball retention, pressing workrate) most ideally complement Partey out of the current options. I would 1000% rather see Mo’-Partey midfield than another game with Ceballos starting, and equally I don’t want to see Xhaka at LB on Thursday against the pacey Villareal forward line.

Biggles

Love is a many splendored thing, as the song goes.

Gunner08

Well if he doesn’t start against unai then he doesn’t love him more than me because I would never even consider playing willian over him. (And I suspect you guys wouldn’t to)

Choppa boi

start gabi against villa? so where does that leave Pepe and saka?

Lacaubapepe

Arteta lost me when he included Willian in that list! He’s totally out of his mind on Willian

TungorAdams

It’s to easy to say Gabi should have played a lot more, without taking part of the reasoning and facts behind these decisions. Arteta has shown faith in Gabi before, there has been absolutely no sign of him not liking the player – the opposite. Easing him into 1st team after injuries is not lack of affection, it’s the opposite

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

We definitely don’t want Martinelli following Wilshere’s “what might have been” career through being rushed back into action after injury over and over again. I don’t have a problem with seeing Arteta take more care of him.

Merlin’s Panini

It’s never Willian, Mikel.

edzo

Arteta is still moaning on about xhaka at left back. That will make Villarreal happy.

Daveo

Exactly, Chukwueze is having wet-dreams about it.

Choppa boi

he was hardly ripping Xhaka apart in the first leg bro

Daveo

Ummm…you might need to rewatch the game. He ran all over Xhaka and Mari. He was arguably MOTM.

The Arsenal

Part of me likes that Arteta still has fight in him. But he still starts Willian. Where is Nelson?
As much as i understand wrapping Gabi in cottonwool there has been plenty of opportunity to bring him on for 10-15 mins and he has often opted differently usually with no effect.

loose_cannon

Personally don’t have a problem with how Arteta is handling Martinelli per se. The problem is often who plays instead.

AFL

I don’t trust Arteta a single word when he speaks about players and I am afraid there are more and more players in Arsenal dressing room with similar concerns.

Arteta needs to goo, sooner the better!

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Where do you get you’re inside information on the dressing room?

Chris

I recall the same discussions around a young Foden at Man City. Everyone said he should be playing except Pep who said he needed time, now that he’s had that time he’s performing at a consistently high level week in, week out. The same will happen with Martinelli, When he is ready he will play and will be tearing it up week in, week out not the inconsistency we get now

Kelvinlazzy

As it stands until we start seeing that there is know better player than xhaka in our midfield we will never move on. Tell me one perfect player in arsenal right now? Just a name and I will tell you his own flaws, I mean bad days paves way for better days. Let me tell you this if any player in arsenal play with the level xhaka plays like win more tackles, possess the ball, always ask for the ball, that player will be bound to constant red card and flaws too.. Truth is that there will always be fans… Read more »

Qwertymonster

Xhaka would probably be in the top 3 in terms of minutes played since joining. Arsenal have changed managers and signed midfielders since then. I do not have the stats but my guess is our win %age with him is higher than without him. It’s easier to blame a player who is on the pitch than a player who is either injured or not in the first 11.

Qwertymonster

Also, he has 3 red cards in 159 PL appearances. 53 games per red card. Less than 1 card per season.

John NotCena

And Philip Lahm has 0 in his entire professional career whilst playing for Bayern in a back 4. Stats without context are useless. As is your analysis sorry to say

Felix

Gabi is very good player

Ade King

What’s he talking about? Still experimenting with his team right deep into the end of the season? No clear-cut best eleven for every position, almost two season into the job?.

This guy talks a good game; to convert that into action on the field is another ballgame entirely.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

Two bog-standard, nothing unusual going on here, seasons. He’s been stuck with mix of neo-grandads, wet behind the ears kids who need time to mature and grow into their role, and dubious loanees brought in to make rich men richer. The bastards that filled this team with the likes of Willian didn’t stop to ask Arteta what he wanted, regardless of whatever line they were spinning at the time. We’ve had tw*ts in almost every position above Arteta since the day he arrived. He’s been told to make a beautiful cake out of a handful of fresh ingredients and two… Read more »

Arsefan

Of course we don’t know and don’t understand but arteta know better and even like Martinelli more than we do!! Wow that’s impressive

Jonathan Phiri

Gabriel is the future of Gunners. A model of the true spirit of guners’ style of football.

Charlie

I can’t believe we’re not giving Balogun minutes! Our season is dead 💀 so there’s no reason not to blood the lad. And let’s face it, a toothless Newcastle would’ve been the perfect game for him.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla

It’s not completely dead yet. Hang in there for a few weeks before you start digging the grave.

Gabigol

Let the bromance continue

T J

Martinelli is super to watch, don’t risk him, yes, but play him all the same

Martinelli will be a soul destroyer to rival fans hopes and dreams, as too Saka, they be PL serial killers