Mikel Arteta says what all Arsenal fans wanted to hear about Gabriel Martinelli

Newcastle v Arsenal: Match in pictures

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has allayed the fears of many Gunners supporters by telling reporters he loves Gabriel Martinelli “so much more than all of you together”. Martinelli impressed in a rare start in Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League win at Newcastle United. The Brazilian set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the clinching second goal at St James’ Park.

Arsenal supporters have been calling for Martinelli to get more game time since he returned from the ankle injury which kept him out of the second half of 2020.

His absence has been a worry for fans, with Sunday’s match just his fifth start in all competitions in 2021.

Last week, Gunners legend Martin Keown questioned Martinelli’s lack of football, saying: “The manager doesn’t like him. It’s as simple as that.”

However, Arteta has responded by saying that is far from the truth.

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The Spaniard said: “Any doubt guys, I love Gabi so much more than all of you together.”

Martinelli played the final few minutes as the central striker against the Magpies.

And Arteta was impressed with his brief performance up top, as well as from the left, and has defended the lack of game time the teenager has had.

He added: “Gabi’s improving every week. He’s taking his minutes in the right way. He’s developing in the way we all believe he can.

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“Today he had an assist, some good moments on the left and trying to play him as no.9 as well.

“Just look at how much he’s played in the last two years. And then how much he’s played with me when he’s been available, and then we can discuss that. It’s what happens.

“This debate is always happening when you don’t win. If it’s not him, it would be someone else.

“If it’s not Gabi, it would be [Alexandre] Lacazette, Willian or [Nicolas] Pepe. It’s part of it.”

Arsenal could be in the market for a striker, with doubts over the long-term futures of Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.

Youngster Folarin Balogun has recently penned a new deal to keep him at the Emirates until 2025.

But does Arteta think Martinelli has the potential to play that role more often in the future?

“Time will tell,” he said.

“But I would like to develop him in both positions because I think he’s got the potential to do both.”

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