Mikel Arteta wants fans and pundits to manage their expectations when it comes to Gabriel Martinelli, despite the youngster’s quality.

Gabriel Martinelli with the Arsenal u21s (Photo by Arsenal Academy on Twitter)
Gabriel Martinelli with the Arsenal u21s (Photo by Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

One of the rare positives of Arsenal’s defeat to Everton at the weekend was the return of Gabriel Martinelli. The teenager was initially expected to play for the u23s on Friday night, but he stepped up to the first team on Saturday instead.

Though he only played the final 19 minutes of the game, it was still a boost to see the 19-year-old back out there. Arsenal arguably came closest to scoring with him on the pitch, excluding the earlier penalty.

But ahead of the League Cup quarter-final against Manchester City, Arteta had a message to anyone expecting Martinelli to turn the team’s fortunes around on his own.

“We cannot put that pressure [of being the club’s ‘saviour’] on his shoulders,” Arteta argued. “It’s not fair for him. He brings that enthusiasm that the fans can see because he’s got something special, a special energy every time he steps on that field.

“But remember that Gabi, what he’s done in the Premier League the time that he’s been with us is very limited. Let him develop, like we are doing with many other young kids that we have here.”

What Arteta is referring to is that most of Martinelli’s goals and assists so far have come outside the Premier League. He has seven goals and four assists in the FA Cup, the Europa League and the EFL Cup, but just three goals in the league.

It’s a valid point. We all hope Martinelli will continue to develop and hit those same heights regularly in the league, but it’s hard to do that when your team is performing poorly in the first place. He’ll need time to get back up to speed, at least.