Morning all, a quick Saturday round up for you.
Let’s start with Gabriel Martinelli whose form this season has seen him called up to the Brazil senior team for the first time. He did represent his country at the Olympics last summer, but this is obviously the real deal for him.
Mikel Arteta was asked about him at his press conference yesterday, before this news broke, and spoke about the 20 year old taking his chance, in part because of what happened with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He said:
Gabi is playing in a different position because Auba certainly in the last few months played as a nine, but Gabi has shown big signs of where he’s moving. Certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third and I think his contribution all around in his game has been exceptional. He totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing.
I think he needed the goal against Watford for his own confidence. He hadn’t scored since a brace against Leeds in mid-December, and if we talk about how a lack of goals might be affecting a senior player like Alexandre Lacazette – with all his experience to deal with that – it must have been weighing on Martinelli’s mind too.
It’s also interesting to see him now as an important part of the team, not just the squad, because it wasn’t long ago we were being told that Arteta just didn’t like Martinelli and was freezing him out. In slight mitigation, it came at a point where there wasn’t the same fluidity around our attacking play, and there was a desire to see something different which he represented, but the consistent theme from Arteta was that he liked the player but wanted to bring him through at the right time.
January 2021: “I expect big things from Gabi.”
March 2021: “He trains incredibly well every day, and his attitude couldn’t be better. I have spoken to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient. He will get his chance.”
April 2021: “We have to be a little bit patient with him but he has a bright future at the club and he will have all the opportunities that he needs to show us how good he is and the career he can have with us.”
August 2021 (dismissing the idea of Martinelli being loaned out): “The injuries he has suffered have been big setbacks … but we have a lot of trust with Gabi, and we have to find the right space for him to grow within the squad.”
I know when it comes to football and football managers that actions speak louder than words, but Martinelli’s growing importance and development are very much in line with what Arteta said all along. He felt he wasn’t quite ready, there was a lot of competition for places in the forward line, but he was given his chance, he’s taken it very well, and it’s clear that there is much more to come from this player. That’s the really exciting part about a 20 year old breaking through to this extent at this point in his career.
It might also be instructive, based on this, to look back on what the manager said about William Saliba – because it’s pretty much exactly the same, so those looking for the young Frenchman to get his chance next season may well be in luck.
For some extra reading this morning, I’ll point you in the direction of two tactics columns from Lewis, looking at how things are developing on our flanks. Here’s the one on the left hand side, and here’s the one on the right. I know we’re all focused on the centre-forward signing in the summer, for obvious reasons, but I do wonder if we might be thinking about another kind of attacking player too.
I’m not convinced that Nicolas Pepe’s future lies in red and white, and with two years left on his contract at the end of the season, that would be the optimum time to sell. However, when you look at our bench, there’s not a lot on there when it comes to attacking threat, so he couldn’t go and not be replaced, so I suspect we might also be thinking about a winger/wide-forward when the transfer market opens.
And finally, a bit of a link drop. This is excellent work on Socios, one of Arsenal’s official partners, who sell essentially worthless fan tokens via their own cryptocurrency (which is worth something to them and those who trade in it). If it doesn’t already sound murky enough, the article is quite eye-opening – not least because of how aggressively and quickly they have captured the football market. Feels a bit like some kind of bubble.
Arsenal have launched an appeal for Ukraine, partnering with Save the Children.
And this lovely piece from Suzy Wrack highlights the work that the Arsenal Foundation, with key figures from the club, do around the world.
Right, I’ll leave it there for this morning. Back tomorrow with a preview of the Leicester game, and we’ll have a preview podcast on Patreon in a little while.