A youthful Arsenal side made light work of Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, then equally dominated Standard Liege in the Europa League. Both performances raised excitement levels amongst the Arsenal fanbase about their promising young core.
At the heart of the plaudits was Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian teenager turned 18 in June and is already making an impact for the Arsenal first team. That in itself is some achievement.
But what may have been the most exciting part is the fact he performed so well as a lone striker. Martinelli can quite easily be criticised for his lack of physicality, something that will improve with age I am sure. This lack of strength means many expected him to be utilised as a wide player until he develops further.
However with Lacazette returning to full fitness after an ankle injury, Nketiah on loan and Aubameyang not able to play every single fixture, Martinelli will be needed in that central striker role this season.
His first Arsenal goal came from a penetrative run which saw him beat the Forest defensive pairing to Chambers cross, thumping home an accurate header. His attacking instinct was there for all to see with that finish, as was his pace and determination.
Standing at 6ft tall, it’s easy to forget Martinelli has a presence in the air and I am sure that will not be the last header he scores.
A criticism will be he sometimes ignored some better options in attacking areas, failing to get his head up and instead trying to do too much himself. I am sure this will improve as he matures and gets to know his teammates and his surroundings.
For such a young player who has come from Brazil, Martinelli is showing great qualities and ability at the early stage of his Arsenal career, with four goals in two starts for the Gunners.
Arsenal fans must limit their expectations at this stage, Martinelli will have some great moments but also many poor performances as he learns his trade.
Like Nketiah, Martinelli has the chance to become Arsenal’s next long-term striker. Whilst Lacazette and Aubameyang are centre stage right now, both are approaching 30 and the conclusion of their current contracts. For now, the young duo can learn from the very best and perhaps in a few years they will be the next Auba and Laca.