Mikel Arteta keen to manage expectation of Arsenal's red-hot Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli

Mikel Arteta keen to manage expectation of Arsenal's red-hot Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli
Mikel Arteta keen to manage expectation of Arsenal's red-hot Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Mikel Arteta is keen not to put too much pressure on attacker Gabriel Martinelli, arguing he should be allowed to develop at his own pace.

Martinelli, 18, scored a spectacular goal in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea in midweek for his 10th goal of the campaign, making him the first teenager to reach double figures in a season for Arsenal since Nicolas Anelka.

After signing from Brazilian lower league side Ituano in the summer, there was little expectation on the forward, but he has emerged as a rare bright spot on what has thus far proved a disappointing campaign for the North London club.

With front-line striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suspended, Martinelli has stepped up to fill the void, netting in his last two matches for the Gunners.

"I would like to talk about potential, more than what it is at the moment because for him there is still a long way," Arteta said.

"The stature of this club, to give him the key to do that straight away is not fair on him. We have to bring him down.

"I want him to train with his head down every day hard and slowly he will start to earn the praise if he does what he needs to do every day, but it is not about one or two days."

Manager Arteta admitted he was surprised by how prepared Martinelli was to compete in the first team when he first took over last month.

The Spaniard had been told plenty of positives about his prodigious young talent and Martinelli is expected to be named in the starting XI for the trip to the South Coast to face Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round on Monday.

Arteta added: "I heard a lot of things about Gabi before I joined and the moment I saw [him] in training, it was confirmed the things I was told before.

"I think the way he competes and how brave he is in every decision on that pitch is very unusual for an 18-year-old.

"He competed against one of the best defenders in the league, in [Cesar] Azpilicueta, and he got at him every time he had a chance. His fighting spirit is incredible and then he is a threat for goal every time."

Asked if Martinelli's form was so good it would make recalling Aubameyang difficult, Arteta disagreed, but he did admit the young striker currently deserves to remain in the team due to his recent performances.

What Arteta, 37, is worried by, however, is supporters and others at the club expecting the Brazil Under-23 international to consistently deliver displays like he did against Chelsea.

"That is the risk and not just him, but all of us and me included and the club and the people around him," Arteta said.

Updated: January 26, 2020 03:51 PM

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