Cape Town - Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has moved to dampen expectations
on young attacker Gabriel Martinelli following a string of standout
performances for the London club.
The 18-year-old scored in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea on
Tuesday, racing clear from inside his own half before showing great composure
to find the net.
It was Martinelli's 10th goal of the campaign and made him
the first teenager to reach double figures in a season for Arsenal since
After signing from Ituano in the summer, there was little
expectation on the forward, but he has emerged as a real plus point and
recently filled the void of the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by netting
in the Gunners last two matches.
"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
"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."
Head coach 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 positive traits about
his fighting spirit and quality in front of goal, which quickly were rubber-stamped,
and the teen is expected to start again in the FA Cup at Bournemouth 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
Asked if Martinelli's form was so good it would make
recalling Aubameyang difficult, the 37-year-old disagreed, but he did admit the
young striker currently deserves to remain in the team due to his recent
What Arteta 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," Arsenal's head coach
"We have to support him and protect him. We cannot just
give him the license to think he can do that every single day and he needs to
do that and put himself under that pressure when he can maybe get blocked a
"It is completely the opposite. He needs to play with
that freedom where he has the license to do what he wants to do on the pitch,
but with the pressure really that it doesn't always have to be him to do
- TeamTalk Media