Mikel Arteta has revealed that Gabriel Martinelli is ‘very close’ to being able to make his eagerly anticipated first team return and is confident that the Brazilian’s natural enthusiasm will play a key role in turning his side’s season around.
The Gunners held Southampton to a 1-1 draw at the Emirates on Wednesday and in doing so prevented creating some unwanted history by avoiding a fifth straight home defeat.
Despite that encouraging point, achieved with his side down to 10 men for the third time in five matches, Arteta’s side remain perilously close to the relegation zone ahead of testing back-to-back fixtures against Everton and Chelsea.
Martinelli joined Arsenal as a virtual unknown 18 months ago from Ituano and scored 10 goals in all competitions before succumbing to a knee injury which has prevented him from playing in the first team since March.
The 19-year-old did feature for the Under-23s earlier this month against AFC Wimbledon and Arteta cannot wait to introduce Martinelli to a side which has scored just 11 goals from 13 Premier League games this season.
‘Martinelli is very close to being available and fit to be part of us as well, which is great news,’ Arteta said ahead of Saturday’s match at Goodison Park. ‘We will see what happens.
‘Gabi is pure enthusiasm, energy, belief, charisma and goals. And this is him. He’s around the training ground and he’s around our training sessions and the energy is different because he goes 100 miles per hour.
‘He’s got this passion and his way of playing and he is a threat. He’s a player that we’ve been missing because he brings something special to the team.
‘He’s contagious with his attitude and I think it’s going to be a big boost when we have him.’