Gabriel Martinelli has been struggling to make an impact at Arsenal this season
Mikel Arteta has nothing but praise for Gabriel Martinelli and has taken the blame for the Brazilian being out of the Arsenal first team since his return to fitness.
The 19-year-old suffered a long-term knee injury which saw him miss the second half of last season and kept him out of action until December.
Arteta was quick to bring the forward back into the first team old when he was fit again, but has seemingly changed his mind and Martinelli has barely been seen in recent weeks.
He has not made a Premier League appearance since 30 January, but has been an unused substitute six times since then.
Martinelli’s only appearance since the start of February has been for 13 minutes in the Europa League as he finds himself way down the pecking order for a place in the forward line.
Arteta has offered little explanation as to why he is not playing more, even as a substitute, and only had praise for the talented teenager.
‘No, if anything it’s my fault, he has done everything perfect, he trains incredibly well every day, his attitude cannot be any better,’ Arteta told a press conference on Wednesday.
‘He is disappointed he is not playing more, obviously, and I have spoken to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient.
‘He had some minutes, he had some games as well and it’s true the competition for the front positions is very tough but he needs to be patient and he will get his chance.’
Martinelli was again an unused substitute as Arsenal beat Olympiakos 3-1 in the Europa League last week and Gunners hero Martin Keown was left baffled after the match over his lack of game time.
‘One player we’ve not mentioned in all this is Gabriel Martinelli,’ Keown told BT Sport after Arsenal’s 3-1 win.
‘If I was his father or his family, I’m really disappointed for him because he’s not getting any football and he’s a great talent.
‘Again, I don’t know why that is, that needs explaining. ‘If he’s fit enough to sit on the bench, he’s fit enough to get on. When they’re winning games that’s fine, but I think he’s a talent, a great talent.
‘I’d like to see more of these young players come in because the ones that have come in, Saka and Smith Rowe particularly, have done exceptionally well.’
Arsenal host Olympiakos in the second leg on Thursday and the Brazilian will be hoping to feature again.