Arsenal Watch: Gabriel Martinelli

18-year-old forward Gabriel Martinelli made his first official appearance for Arsenal today in the club’s pre-season fixture versus the Colorado Rapids. The youngster had a sensational debut for the club in a game that Arsenal won 3-0.

The youngster joined Arsenal from Brazillian side Ituano earlier in the month and fans were able to watch the new man in action for the very first time.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery fielded a young squad for a majority of the game in what looked like a 4-4-2 formation. Martinelli was fielded on the right flank in this set-up and was accompanied in attack with Bukayo Saka on the opposing flank and Tyreece John-Jules and Eddie Nketiah down the middle.

Regarding Martinelli’s performance, his outstanding energy levels were the first thing I noticed to his game. In the first half, the 18-year-old could be seen everywhere on the right flank. He tracked back often to support Carl Jenkinson defensively, won possession quite a few times, and also drifted inside to create opportunities.

In terms of the latter, I was also impressed with the 18-year-old’s movement off the ball. For a player of his age, his movement around the right flank was rather intelligent and it was great to see him offer himself to teammates. His narrow play was good and it was encouraging seeing him make runs in between the defensive line.

In the first few minutes of the game, Martinelli came close to scoring his first official goal for the club thanks to some fantastic work from Saka. The winger produced a fantastic run with the ball and laid the ball off to Martinelli, who missed the chance by some distance.

Later in the half, the 18-year-old came close to assisting on two occasions. In the 16th minute, the Brazillian squared the ball to Nketiah following a nice 1-2 but the young striker blasted the ball straight at the goalkeeper. Minutes later, the forward had the ball on the edge of the box but he wasn’t able to do more with the opportunity. I’m still not sure if he was trying to pass the ball across or shoot at goal but regardless he should’ve done better with the chance.

To prevent repeating myself, Martinelli continued to play his natural game for the remainder of the half and into the second half. His desire to always get involved and his off the ball movement stood out to me most but I want to see more of what he can do on the ball. There were times in the game where he looked a bit selfish and wanted to score but given the circumstances, that’s expected.

However, just after 60 minutes, Martinelli was able to clinch his first-ever goal for the club. Following some nice build-up play, Robbie Burton produced a fantastic ball out wide that was met by full-back Dominic Thompson who then crossed the ball into the box where Martinelli chested it in.

It wasn’t the goal that people would’ve predicted but the forward did well to get himself into the right position at the right time. Hopefully, this is his first goal of many in pre-season.

Taking into consideration the fact that Arsenal lacks natural players out wide, now is the perfect time for players like Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka to prove they deserve first-team opportunities this season.

In the end, the Brazillian produced a very good performance that exceeded all of my expectations. With the exception of the aforementioned Saka, Martinelli was without a doubt the best player on the pitch. While it is just one game, the 18-year-old looked very comfortable in the side and I’m excited to see how he progress throughout pre-season.

My rating: 9/10

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