Mikel Arteta is pleased with the way Gabriel Martinelli is developing his game and says the young Brazilian is fully deserving of his regular place in Arsenal’s starting lineup.
The 20-year-old has started 11 of the Gunners last 12 matches in the Premier League and while he’s not always been as ruthless as he might like, he’s hit the back of the net five times, including last week’s cracker away at Watford.
While there’s still much to improve, Arteta is encouraged by the form of his young charge who has been eager to prove his worth at a time when many thought the Gunners would struggle without the exiled, and since sold, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“Gabi has shown big signs of the way he’s moving, certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third,” said Arteta ahead of this weekend’s match with Leicester.
“I think his contribution all around has been exceptional. I think he totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing.”
The boss also said that the partnership on the left flank between Martinelli and Kieran Tierney is improving although he’s keen to ensure the latter mixes up his game.
He said: “That [partnership] is growing because the more they experience match situations, training situations together, that chemistry, that understanding, those timings, spaces, it will click more naturally. I think this is happening.
“Kieran needs to overlap when it’s the moment to overlap. He needs to become unpredictable and efficient every time in the final third in positions where his qualities can define football matches. That’s what we have to do as much as possible.”
Arsenal head into Sunday’s match with the Foxes looking for a fifth consecutive win in the league. Succeed and it will be the first time the club have embarked on such a run since Mikel Arteta took over.
“To be with the top teams you have to win consistently and do it in a convincing way,” said the boss.
“I need even more than that amount of victories [four in a row] because there are teams in this league who do that for 10, 11, 12 or 18 times so still the margin is pretty big.
He added: “It’s another step in showing consistency in terms of results, but I think you can only get that when you get the right performances and that’s what we are going to keep improving.”
Just as we pressed publish on this story, news broke of Martinelli’s first call-up to the Brazil senior squad. Coach Tite, who has a very strong relationship with Edu, includes him alongside Real Madrid pair Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, Richarlison, Neymar, Raphinha, and Antony.
🇧🇷 Convocação da #SeleçãoBrasileira 📋
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) March 11, 2022
Having won gold at the Olympics with his country in the summer, this is another big step in Gabi’s development and an opportunity to stake a claim for a place at the World Cup which takes place later this year.
Namesake Gabriel is also included in the squad for matches with Chile and Bolivia at the end of the month.