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Mikel Arteta has admitted he was close to subbing Gabriel Martinelli just moments before the striker scored a remarkable equaliser for Arsenal .
The Brazilian youngster started on the left of the Gunners’ attack for the clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
And it was the visitors who were up against it from early on in the match, after David Luiz was sent off, prior to Jorginho putting Chelsea ahead.
With Arsenal struggling to find a way to get back level, Arteta later revealed he considered making a personnel change, before Martinelli’s moment of magic.
“I wanted to take him off as he looked knackered and was cramping, then next minute he was running 60 yards,” Arteta said.
Martinelli collected the ball just outside Arsenal’s box after a Chelsea corner, and quickly launched a counter attack.
He then ran the ball the whole length of the field – capitalising on an N’golo Kante slip in the process – before sliding the ball neatly past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Blues’ goal.
The 18-year-old’s good work was almost undone when Chelsea took the lead again with seven minutes of normal time remaining.
But Hector Bellerin equalised late on for Arsenal to earn a share of the points.
After the game, BT Sport pundits Martin Keown and Rio Ferdinand were effusive in their praise for Arsenal, and in particular Martinelli.
“You’re watching that team tonight, and you’re seeing the future out there,” Keown said. “Martinelli – his goal. The passion, the spirit. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
He added: “Martinelli that is some performance tonight, [Buyako] Saka, and even [Granit] Xhaka when he goes to central defence, that’s as good as I’ve seen him play.
“They showed real character. For most of that game they were down to 10 men.”
Ferdinand concluded: “The way they done it, that demands character, that demands spirit, that demands a mentality, and then added to that quality in vital moments. They’ve showed that in abundance today.”