Arsenal are on a side quest to prove that Gabriel Martinelli can replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Or so I want to believe. Check one objective off his list.
Arsenal need to start helping themselves out of some particularly inclement contract situations, and that involves a lot of the veterans that we might not need anymore. One of which is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a man who, while immensely talented, is probably past his expiration date at the Emirates.
My hope during the course of this Aubameyang suspension was that Gabriel Martinelli could prove that he was ready to take on the role, and thus vindicate my wishes to sell Aubameyang while he’s still worth something pretty substantial.
Martinelli’s first shot at that was… mixed. He had one golden chance and one silver chance in the early going, both set up by Nicolas Pepe from the other side of the pitch.
Aubameyang has had days like that too, though. And what makes Aubameyang so special is that even on those days, he often still manages to squeak in a goal.
It’s how he’s still in the Golden Boot running despite the Gunners floundering in the middle of the table.
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It’s also something we haven’t had to see from Martinelli yet because Martinelli has been so good that he hasn’t had “off days” with which he needed to capitalize on. But against Sheffield United, that’s exactly what he did.
Overall, it wasn’t his best match. He wasn’t finding a lot of cohesion out there on the left wing and when he scuffed two chances, I worried that we were seeing him sink back into the prospect stages, even temporarily.
But then he popped up in the right place at the right time to knock home the opening goal just before half in a move that was so much like something Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would do.
At first, I was a bit distraught that Martinelli hadn’t done better, but then I remembered this little side quest. All he has to do is show that he can do what Aubameyang does. Everyone has off days, including the young Brazilian. The key is how you make the most of those off days. Martinelli scored a goal, just like Aubameyang would have.
Chelsea is next. Hopefully Martinelli keeps his spot so he can keep going on this quest to be an every day guy sooner rather than later. Needless to say, we’ll all be watching.