Arsenal hearts were in mouths when Gabriel Martinelli hobbled off against Man City.
With just 65 minutes of football under his belt – more than half of that coming for the Under-23’s – since he last kicked a competitive ball for Arsenal in March, Gabriel Martinelli‘s start against Manchester City was one of few positive notes.
Starting up front(ish) with Alexandre Lacazette, the Brazilian managed to show in such a short space of time how vital of a component he is in the attack. Even if he didn’t touch the ball too often in the first half, his endless running and closing down was precisely the level hunger that fans had remembered from before he went under the knife.
That exact desire nearly proved to be his downfall in the first half as he got locked in a footrace with Zack Steffen, one the goalkeeper’s closer proximity to the ball not only saw him get the first touch, but also follow through on the 19-year-old.
On a scale of Dani Ceballos to genuine pain, Martinelli leaned heavily towards the latter. It’s always a telling sign when the shirt gets pulled over the face.
Couch diagnoses were made over fear of a repercussion of his knee injury, as the writhing agony strongly suggested so. It became clear that his shin was the impacted area and seeing him walk off, albeit gingerly, was a colossal sigh of relief.
A decision was made for him to carry on and walk it off, although it became apparent after the break that it was to painful to persist with and the substitution was made.
Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta addressed the issue with his verdict tempering fears, although didn’t reveal the extent of it.
"“It was just a really bad kick on his shin and it was swelling up and he could not continue,” he told the official Arsenal website. “[At half-time] he was pushing, he was saying he was completely fine, that he wanted to carry on. He had a scar that wasn’t open and he wanted to try, so we gave him the opportunity to try and when he was on the pitch he was uncomfortable so it was an easy decision to take him off.”"