Martin Keown wants an ‘explanation’ from Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta over the continued absence of Gunners forward Gabriel Martinelli.
Martinelli, 19, was an unused substitute yet again on Thursday night as Arsenal beat Olympiakos 3-1 in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League clash.
It was a largely positive evening for the Gunners, who have taken control of the tie thanks to goals from Martin Odegaard, Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny.
Keown was disappointed not to see Martinelli at least feature from the bench, however, and questioned Arteta’s treatment of the teenager following the victory.
Martinelli missed the start of the 2020-21 season due to injury but has barely featured for the Gunners since returning from the treatment room and is yet to start a match in 2021.
‘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.’
Speaking earlier in the month, Arsenal legend Ian Wright backed Arteta’s cautious handling of Martinelli and insisted the Brazilian’s time ‘will come’.
‘People are very much like, “where’s Martinelli?”,’ Wright said on Ringer FC’s Wrighty’s House podcast.
‘But Martinelli has had a serious injury, he’s coming back and with Willian playing better, with Pepe playing better, with Auba nicking his goals now – he can introduce him slowly.
‘We have players who are playing better now and we can ease him in. His time will come because Mikel makes the right decisions.’
Arteta’s Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday against north London rivals Tottenham.