Gabriel Martinelli was back in the Arsenal XI and back on the scoresheeet in a 3-0 win over Sheffield United.
Prior to Sunday evening’s trip to Bramall Lane, the Brazilian had endured a somewhat stop-start 2020/21 campaign after returning from a knee injury – that curtailed his impressive first season in English football earlier than he would have liked – back in December.
However, an injury suffered in the warm-up against Newcastle United in the FA Cup third round altered Mikel Arteta‘s plans for the forward.
After a goalless draw with Manchester United at the end of January, Martinelli hadn’t started a single game and went seven games without making an appearance in the Premier League.
But either side of the international break, the teenager has begun to see more minutes on the pitch as he was a second-half substitute against West Ham United, Liverpool, and Slavia Prague.
And with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, and Martin Odegaard all ruled out against the Blades, Martinelli was finally handed a chance as a starter.
It was one that he grabbed with both hands. With the Gunners 1-0 up in the second half, the teenager made the game safe when he reacted first to Nicolas Pepe’s shot that was parried to double the lead.
In finding the back of the net, Martinelli scored his first Arsenal goal since the 2-2 draw against Chelsea in January 2020 – 446 days ago.
To mark the occasion there was a slightly odd-looking solo celebration to boot.
Although, as spotted by @afcstuff on Twitter, the reason for this is because Martinelli usually celebrates Arsenal goals with Bukayo Saka.
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That couldn’t happen against the Blades as Saka was substituted a few minutes before Martinelli struck.
The worry for Arteta is that the England international limped off in the second half and could now be doubtful for Thursday night’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.
Arsenal were without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney, David Luiz, and Martin Odegaard against Sheffield United and can ill-afford to lose Saka.