Arsenal: It couldn’t have been anyone but Gabriel Martinelli

Arsenal needed inspiration from somewhere, and Freddie Ljungberg did the smart thing, calling on Gabriel Martinelli. You just knew it had to be him.

When you’ve gone nine in a row without a win, you start to wonder who else you can ask for help. Arsenal had asked Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and more for assistance in turning their fortunes, nothing helped. So Freddie Ljungberg asked Gabriel Martinelli.

Confidence is a real b*tch. Because when you have it, you convince the world you’re unstoppable. And when you lose it, you convince the world you’re going to be relegated. Such was the case with recent Arsenal history.

West Ham needed a change, and while everyone else on that pitch had been a part of the failures, Gabriel Martinelli hadn’t. He had been used in bit-part roles, and had inspired the comeback against Southampton, but against West Ham, he was given his first Premier League start.

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While he wasn’t heavily involved for the early going, at the hour mark, when the chance fell to an eager youngster with eyes on the prize, he was never going to miss. And he didn’t.

That goal changed things. This wasn’t just another Aubameyang goal or a flubbed shot deflected home. This was pure. This was different. This was Gabriel Martinelli. And like flipping a switch, things changed. There was confidence around that goal, there was belief.

I believe that this match would have looked quite different if Martinelli hadn’t taken that goal with such confidence. There’s something about a teenager shining brightest in a room of superstars that seems to have a lingering effect on everyone else. That’s what we saw here.

From that moment, everything changed. Nicolas Pepe wanted a piece of the pie, and Aubameyang realized that he should probably take part in the action and everyone seemed eager to help out, just like that. And where did it all begin? With the individual inspiration and confidence of the youngest man on the pitch.

There’s a reason we’ve been calling on Freddie to start the kids, and this is why. When you’ve had problems with the same players not sparking changes, you have to call on someone unaffected by that confidence drain. Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong with a youngster there, and Martinelli proved that.

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Now it’s just a matter of not overthinking things and sticking with what clearly worked.