If there’s one complaint Arsenal supporters have about Mikel Arteta, it’s how infrequently he uses fan-favourite Gabriel Martinelli.
The Brazilian has had a torrid time with injuries this season. He spent a lot of time on the sidelines, but he has been fit for a while now, but Arteta has still been hesitant to give him a consistent run of games from the start.
Arsenal legend Martin Keown has been the biggest voice in favour of Martinelli in recent weeks. He has been very vocal about Arteta not giving the teenager a chance, and the Gunners boss’ decision to not start him last Thursday annoyed him a bit more than usual.
Keown boldly claimed on BT Sport after that game: “I’ve been concerned as to why that player is not playing – because the manager doesn’t like him. It’s as simple as that.”
Arteta wasn’t really asked about Keown’s shock claim, but his response to a question about Martinelli seemed like a jibe back at the former Arsenal defender.
He said, as per Arsenal.com: “Just look at how much he’s played in the last few years. Then how much he’s played with me when he’s available. Then we can discuss that (his lack of playing time).
“If there are any doubts, I love Gabi so much, more than all of you together!”
The Insider’s View:
Arteta’s final comment really does make it seem like it was a response to Keown’s words from last week.
It really was a shock to see a club icon publicly claim that the Arsenal manager does not like one of the most talented young players available at his disposal. That’s not right at all, especially as it could have a negative effect on Martinelli if he hears that.
All of us would love to see Martinelli get more minutes than he currently is. However, it is important to note that he is still only 19 and Arteta is only protecting him at the moment by easing him in.
The Brazilian started on Sunday, picked up an assist and won the man of the match award. Arteta squashed Keown’s comments after the game as well, which should put everything to bed about the relationship between the player and the manager.