Mikel Arteta says “he’s not very positive” about Gabriel Martinelli’s prognosis after the Brazilian had to be substituted in the second half of last night’s 2-1 defeat to Everton.
The attacker, starting his second game in the space of four days, required medical attention with 20 minutes remaining and was eventually replaced by Eddie Nketiah.
While it looked at first that the 20-year-old was merely struggling with cramp, Arteta thinks it could be a hamstring issue.
“We have to assess him but he felt something in his hamstring, I’m not very positive about it,” the boss said in his post-game press conference.
That Martinelli was replaced by Nketiah certainly raised a few eyebrows, especially as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe were options from the bench.
Played on the left side of the attack, Nketiah was a menacing presence although his 20-minute cameo will forever be scarred by the missing of a sitter from point-blank range when the scores were level at 1-1.
Asked why he selected Nketiah, who is set to leave in the summer, over Pepe, who hasn’t played in the league since the end of October, Arteta produced an unconvincing answer: “I decided to play Eddie today, to bring him on and he created three chances and hit the post once in 25 minutes.”
Pressed on the matter, he added: “He does every day in training what you saw in 25 minutes here. Every single day. That’s why I picked him.”