Gabriel Martinelli in net! Arsenal forward happy to ‘play goalkeeper’ after filling in as a No.9
- Brazilian forward back among the goals
- Has been leading the line of late
- Jesus close to returning after injury
WHAT HAPPENED? The 21-year-old winger has been seeing his versatility put to good use by Mikel Arteta, with striking cover required for Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah at Emirates Stadium. Martinelli has rediscovered his shooting boots after coming through a slight dip in form, with the target found on four occasions through his last four appearances, and he is eager to point out that he will play any position if it means getting regular game time.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Martinelli told reporters heading into the first leg of Arsenal’s Europa League last-16 encounter with Sporting on Thursday: “If I’m the number nine or on the wing, I always try to do my best and help the team by scoring or getting an assist. It’s up to Mikel - wherever he decides to play me, I’ll play. If the team need me I’d play as a goalkeeper! We play for Arsenal and everyone has this responsibility.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Marinelli was briefly benched after finding end product hard to come by in 2023, with Leandro Trossard taking his place, but he is delighted to be back in favour and will happily welcome fellow countryman Jesus back into the side once he is fully recovered from a knee injury. Martinelli added: “I just kept working hard, I always try to do my best on and off the pitch and that’s what I did. [Jesus] is a great guy and a great player. I’ve said it many times, for me, he’s one of the best in the world. He’s going to help us a lot over the next few months.”
IN TWO PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Martinelli has taken his goal return for 2022-23 to 11 in all competitions, making him Arsenal’s leading scorer, and he will be hoping that there are many more efforts to come as the Gunners seek to chase down Premier League and Europa League glory.