The kind of form Arsenal have been in this season, it was nothing surprising to see West Ham take the lead in first half. Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected header gave Hammers the lead and they were in total control until the 18-year old Brazilian showed up to inject life in Arsenal, who had been dreadful until the equalizer came. Until last night, Gabriel Martinelli did not start as a starter at Premier League. All his previous 7 appearances for Arsenal started-off from the bench and overall, he played just 96 minutes.

Last night, he started on the right of an attacking midfield trio alongside Nicolas Pepe and Mesut Ozil and behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but was given the freedom to move from right to the centre – you give a Brazilian the freedom and he would deliver the best. Martinelli is no different from other Brazilian talents.

He was agile in his position and produced quick movements, which resulted in his first Premier League goal. Until that goal was scored, Arsenal had been dreadful. Yet another disgraceful defeat was on the cards for them. Sead Kolasinac’s run into the box and pulled back to find Martinelli in the ideal position to fire home the equalizer.

Then two more goals came in just 9 minutes. Pepe scored the second and Aubameyang the third, while Ozil was instrumental in setting up those goals. But all those inspirational moves would not have happened if Martinelli’s equalizer did not come.

As a matter of fact, Martinelli is becoming the x-factor, which Arsenal badly need. He seems to be habituated to score goals in desperate situations. One could witness his Midas touch in the Europa League and Carabao Cup – 7 goals in 6 appearances including that madness against Liverpool at Anfield where struck twice in a 5-5 encounter.

Apart from his agility from the flanks to centre, Martinelli’s speciality is that at this age he is well aware from which position he could score and his strikes are well-measured. Linking-up with players around him is another quality of Martinelli. Not all are such matured at this age, but Martinelli seems to gel very well with his teammates and so far he has commanded love and respect from them.

Interim coach Freddie Ljungberg said, “We want to get the energy into the team and shake things up a bit. He has done very well in Europa League games, looks dangerous, score goals and works hard. He runs in behind, he is really quick and I think he’ll do well”.

Hard work, yes! Martinelli works hard to polish his games and it was evident last night. No Arsenal players had control over the ball than Martinelli. None of his teammates made more tackles and blocks. None of them displayed the intensity more than Martinelli. This intensity would set him apart from others.

Unai Emery unleashed Martinelli and Ljungberg would certainly stick with.


The boy is a gem.

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