Mikel Arteta speaks about his striking options.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has given a cryptic response when asked whether Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli would be used as a forward against Southampton on 16 April.
Speaking to the press ahead of the Premier League clash, Arteta said the following (via HITC):
“We have many options, so you will see tomorrow.”
Arsenal’s first-choice forward Alexandre Lacazette was absent from training earlier this week. If the French forward does not feature against Southampton, there is a good chance that Martinelli will start up front.
As things stand, the Gunners are short on attacking options following the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in January. Apart from Lacazette, the only other forward at Arteta’s disposal is youngster Eddie Nketiah.
Martinelli has primarily been used as a left winger by Arteta. However, the 20-year-old winger is very much capable of playing up front. Martinelli has so far contributed five goals and four assists in 28 appearances across all competitions this season.
There is a possibility that he will get his chance to play as a forward in the near future. Lacazette and Nketiah both have less than six months remaining on their respective contracts at Arsenal. There have been no negotiations regarding any extension between the club and the players thus far.
The Gunners could be in the market for a new forward in the summer. However, they could very well turn to Gabriel Martinelli to play that role ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Arsenal have lost valuable ground in the race for the Premier League top-four
Mikel Arteta’s side were earlier in total control of the top-four race in the Premier League. However, the Gunners have suffered back-to-back defeats in their last couple of matches in the league.
After a heavy 3-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace on 4 April, they were beaten 2-1 by Brighton & Hove Albion on 9 April.
These two defeats have seen the Gunners fall to fifth in the league standings, behind their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
As things stand, the Gunners have amassed 54 points from 30 matches this season. They are currently three points behind Spurs and also have a game in hand. But Tottenham have a much better goal difference compared to Mikel Arteta’s side.