Real reason for Gabriel Martinelli substitution against Chelsea revealed

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Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta insists he was not considering taking off Gabriel Martinelli after the Gunners were reduced to 10 men and praised his performance in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

The teenager hit double figures for the season – the first Arsenal teenager to do so since Nicolas Anelka – after a lung-busting run in the second half, capitalising on a slip from N’Golo Kante before placing the ball in the bottom corner.

But he might not have been on the pitch to equalise for the visitors, with Arteta getting ready to bring on Rob Holding to fill in for David Luiz following his sending off.

Martinelli appeared to be the player that would make way, though Arteta is adamant the Brazilian would have stayed on even before he had a re-think over the substitution.

Asked if he was thinking of taking off Martinelli off, Arteta explained: ‘Not Martinelli but I changed my mind. I was thinking about that and I said, “I don’t want to send that message to the team”. ‘And we decided to keep us as we were and give them a chance. And I wanted to see how they could respond to that, you know? Don’t make the response for them.

‘Because I asked them to be accountable for what they do and I didn’t want to make a decision that didn’t let them decide for themselves. So great response from them. On Martinelli’s performance, he continued: ‘To play in this stadium the way he’s done, with 10 men, and play against Azpilicueta – who is in my opinion one of the best defenders in the league – and he was going against him every single time. You need courage to do that.

‘And then his energy is… I wanted to take him off a few times [after the goal] because he looked knackered and he was cramping, and then next minute he was sprinting 60 yards again.’ Asked if Martinelli had stepped up in the absence of the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he added: ‘Not just him. I think Laca is playing a really good level even if he’s not scoring and Nico (Pepe) as well. And everybody that’s coming in.

‘They are fighting really hard in training, fighting to convince us to play more. When they question some things, I say to speak on the pitch. And this is speaking on the pitch.’

 

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