Summer 2019, it was announced that the Gunners would acquire the services of the Brazilian wonder kid, Gabriel Martinelli, who impressed multiple scouts with his performances in South America. The assumption initially was that the talented teenager would be integrated into the U23’s and play his football predominantly there. But following a sequence of promising displays during Arsenal’s pre-season tour, there was a feeling amongst the fan base that the kid was special, and could provide a positive impact for the first team.
His first start in the famous red and white colours came against the Colorado Rapids, where young Martienlli showcased his talent. Immense work rate, energy and desire are words to describe his showing. Gabi’s top display was capped off with a well-taken goal.
It was inevitable that Martinelli would feature in the first team during his first season at the Emirates. And when he was called upon, he didn’t disappoint.
Despite the fact that the Brazilian is still a teenager, his intelligence and ability to make the right decisions are qualities which are already so well refined. Very effective with his darting runs towards the channels and dragging defenders out of position. But also when in possession, he understands space and is completely aware of his surroundings. The 19-year-old knows when to drop deep and when to make a devastating run in behind the defensive backline.
It’s well documented that Martinelli sees his future through the left. But analysing his profile, every aspect in his game suggests his ceiling as a centre forward is incredibly high. During the 2019/2020 season, Gabi managed to find the back of the net on 10 occasions in just 13 starts (23 appearances). The variety of goals the young Brazilian has scored certainly standouts out to the rest.
“He’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker”
Jurgen Klopp wasn’t shy in showering the youngster with significant praise, following Martinelli’s outstanding performance against the reds in the EFL cup. Leading the line, Gabi converted two chances that came his way, with both goals demonstrating his underrated trait of knowing where and when to be in the box.
Other examples of why Martinelli is at his most lethal best when playing in central positions are in Premier League games against West Ham and Sheffield United last season. Despite being initially deployed through the left in both fixtures, the talented forward is always eager to occupy goalscoring positions and influence proceedings.
Furthermore, his first instinct is always to get his shot away as quickly as possible, if the opportunity arises. His second goal against Standard Liege is a prime example of his sheer excellence in danger zones.
Despite standing at 5ft 11in, Martinelli possesses an impressive leap and has demonstrated his qualities when supply lines come through the wide areas. The Brazillian’s movement is excellent, frequently makes a trademark near post run and is constantly asking questions of opposing defenders.
Through the wide areas
‘I like to play open and I play quite centrally, but I prefer to start wide.
As previously mentioned, when you dissect his qualities and attributes, Martinelli is tailored to playing up front. But his performances through the flanks have also caught attention. Devasting pace, magnificent on the half-turn, dribbling qualities and capable of delivering great crosses, with a specific trajectory or in the shape of a cutback.
Link up play
When talented footballers come through the ranks of South America, the assumption is that their technical quality will be an immediate strength. And Arsenal’s Brazillian superstar doesn’t disappoint here as well. Wonderful in tight spaces, minimises the distances between players and is able to provide effective link-up play.
His attitude, mentality and commitment resemble his overall game. Continuously hunting players down, intelligent in the way he presses and possesses sheer hunger/desire to win the ball back, regain possession and capitalise on turnover opportunities. A managers dream!
By no means is Arsenal’s number 35 the finished article and he certainly must continue to develop. But it’s worth noting how incredibly gifted the youngster is and the qualities he brings to the table. Dynamic, versatile, wonderful in transition, technical prowess and much more. Gabi’s skillset along with his understanding of the game is terrific.
His long term absence due to a knee injury has been a huge miss, especially in how his pressing and relentless work rate is able to resonate across his fellow teammates. Making his first start of the season on Tuesday against Manchester City in the EFL cup, the Brazilian immediately showed how his off the ball work has been sorely missed, as well as providing productivity, with a great assist for Lacazette. With the current side lacking inspiration and innovation, Martinelli could be the vital cog in elevating the performance levels of others. A tricky boxing day fixture at home to Lampard’s Blues coming up next, and if the 19-year-old is in contention to start, Arteta should have no hesitation in selecting him.
With Partey still out injured, the current crop of midfielders lacks athleticism and mobility, making it difficult for the Arsenal manager to have success with a back four in and out of possession. It’s expected that he will retain the hybrid 3-4-3 that was deployed against Everton. Saka will play as a left wing-back out of possession and as a left central midfielder in possession, and certainly, the relationship he and Gabi were developing before the Brazillian sustained his injury was exciting. Both players could prove to be an effective partnership and one that would pose a serious threat to Chelsea’s right-hand side.
It’s still uncertain as to whether Aubameyang will be fit to feature. But if the Gabonese international is available, both he and Gabi share similarities in that the two can operate through central areas and out on the left, opening up the possibility of interchangeability.
Arsenal needs a spark and looking at current internal solutions, Gabriel Martinelli is the most viable answer.
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23 years of age, 23 years as a Gooner. Arsenal runs through my veins and it pains me to see the current position and state of the club. Reading many football articles over the years has inspired me to write blogs containing Arsenal analysis. I’ve always wanted my fellow Gooners to be aware of my thoughts and opinions of ‘The Arsenal’ and thanks to Dave and Paul, I now have a platform which makes this possible.