Arsenal’s horror show at home to Liverpool last weekend prompted six changes from Mikel Arteta as Slavia Prague arrived in the Europa League.
To the dismay of many Arsenal fans, Gabriel Martinelli was not amongst them.
Having missed the end of last season and the start of the new campaign with a knee injury, Martinelli has been on the periphery of Mikel Arteta’s plans.
The last of just three starts he has made in all competitions came back in January in an FA Cup fourth round defeat to Southampton.
Speaking before their Europa League clash, frustrated Arsenal legend Martin Keown declared: “I’m going to start a campaign to get Martinelli in the team!”
His frustration is nothing new.
Last week, he discussed Martinelli’s “puzzling” omission, lending his voice as one of many Arsenal fans wishing to see more of the youngster.
Having witnessed Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe emerge as shining lights in a dismal campaign, Keown and many others can’t help but feel Arteta is missing an opportunity for another youngster to make an impact.
“It’s puzzling that we don’t see more of the 19-year-old,” Keown said in the Daily Mail.
“He was finally given some minutes towards the closing stages at West Ham, adding another injection of youthful exuberance on the left wing.
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“He’s simply too good to be an unused substitute. If given his chance, he could come into the team and play a major part in resurrecting Arsenal’s season, similar to the impact Smith Rowe has had.”
When Martinelli was introduced against Slavia Prague, he added an injection of pace and energy which helped the Gunners pile on pressure before breaking the deadlock late on.
Their frustration, however, was that they had not scored more as the visitors snatched a late equaliser.
Martinelli’s cameo was another example of why fans are unsure why they do not see more of the Brazilian, who burst onto the scene last term after being plucked from relative obscurity at Ituano.
In reality, it seems Arteta is yet to fully trust Martinelli as a player he can rely upon in big moments.
They have had disagreement over his role in the past.
Last March, shortly after taking over, Arteta outlined his vision for Martinelli as a centre-forward.
“[Aubameyang and Martinelli] are centre forwards but with the squad balance that we have at the moment, to play on those positions on the left we don’t have five players,” the Spaniard said.
But just a few weeks later, in an interview with popular Brazilian YouTube channel Bolivia Talk Show, Martinelli has admitted he sees his best role being out wide.
Martinelli said: “I like to play open and I play quite centrally, but I prefer to start wide.
Despite his disagreement with Arteta, he insisted he is happy to play whether he can help the team as he looks to help them achieve success.
“But my preference is always just to play, centre-half, full-back, goalkeeper, I just want to play,” Martinelli added.
His attitude is clear in the energy he brings to his game and has been credited by Arteta in the press.
But for whatever reason, the youngster, like Arsenal fans, is having to be patient before he is unleashed on a regular basis.
Martinelli did Keown’s campaign no harm with his cameo on Thursday night.
Now it’s over to Arteta to ensure the opportunity to set Martinelli free is not delayed for much longer.