Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has discussed Gabriel Martinelli’s development, while also commenting on Aaron Ramsdale’s early impact at the club.
After a shaky start to the season that saw the Gunners lose all of three of their opening three league games, there’s been a marked improvement in recent weeks, with the north London club currently unbeaten in their last four in the top-flight, having won three of those games.
That turnaround in fortunes has largely been helped by Arteta’s ability to name a largely settled side of late, having seen the squad impacted by injury and Covid-19 issues in the early season.
One man who has suffered from the lack of changes has been Gabriel Martinelli, with the Brazilian youngster having made just two Premier League appearances so far this season, with those coming in the defeats against Brentford and Chelsea early on in the campaign.
Speaking about the 20-year-old’s lack of game time ahead of a clash with Crystal Palace on Monday, the Arsenal boss admitted that the sheer number of attacking options at his disposal has been a factor, with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe seemingly ahead in the pecking order.
“Well, [it’s] because of the amount of players we have in those positions,” he said at his pre-match press conference. “First of all, he had some games that he played. He started against Brentford and he started against Chelsea as well.
“Unfortunately he got injured last week – it’s a minor injury and we don’t know if he’s going to be available for Monday. We have a lot of options with Gabi and we need to find the right space for him to grow within the squad.”
In truth, ever since his arrival from Ituano in 2019, Martinelli’s involvement has been hampered by injuries, restricting him to just 30 league appearances in the last few seasons.
“If you look at the number of games that he’s played, the injuries he’s suffered have been big setbacks. We sometimes forget his age, what he’s done and where he is.
“We need to try to help him to maintain that balance because you know you can generate frustration that, in my opinion, comes out of a not very realistic diagnosis. You need time to do that.”
Arteta was also asked whether the forward could be sent out on-loan, although the player is seemingly still very much in his plans.
“I’m very happy with him. We’re not thinking about anything like that.”
The Spaniard also commented on the early impression made by summer signing Aaron Ramsdale, who he insisted has ‘adapted really well to the club’.
“We tried to make a decision as a club to sign and bring in the right profile that we believe he had all the qualities needed to succeed at the club,” he said of the ‘keeper.
“It’s very early to make a judgement of how good he is, but the way that he’s settled and what he can transmit on and off the pitch I think is really important. He has engaged and he has adapted really well to the club.
🧤 Of those to make more than one appearance, Aaron Ramsdale (90%) has the best save success in the Premier League this season pic.twitter.com/LtqNAMrOT6
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 14, 2021
“I think he’s getting a very good connection as well to our supporters and he’s performing well, which is the most important thing.”
Having already displaced Bernd Leno as Arsenal’s starting goalkeeper, Ramsdale has set his sights on doing the same at international level with current number one Jordan Pickford, with Arteta insisting that his new man is on the right track.
“He needs to keep performing like what he’s done and always try to think about what he’s doing right, and then continue to do those things, be humble and think about the things he can improve.
“Then, everything will come naturally, as has already happened very early on with him, to be a goalkeeper with his age and his career. He deserves that because of how he’s handled every step along the way. Some of them have been difficult moments and disappointments, which are important as well to evolve in your career.”