Pundit reveals why Arsenal deserved Villa scalp but rips into star who’s been ‘rubbish for a month’
Former Aston Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor has slated Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli and feels he has been well below par for some time.
Martinelli, 21, has become a vital member of the Gunners side, making 22 starts among 23 Premier League appearances this season. The Brazil international has already bagged eight goals, eclipsing the six he scored in 2021-2022. However, he was dropped for Saturday’s away clash with Villa.
The South American replaced Leandro Trossard on 68 minutes. And he bagged the fourth goal as Arsenal came from behind to win 4-2 at Villa Park.
The result saw the north Londoners reclaim top spot in the standings. They are two points clear of Manchester City and have a game in hand over Pep Guardiola’s side.
And Agbonlahor was full of praise for the way the visitors turned things around after the break.
“I thought Arsenal were impressive second half,” he said on talkSPORT. “They didn’t turn up first half but second half, they were relentless.
“Saka, getting at players. Xhaka, Odegaard was finding space and Arsenal thoroughly deserved the win.”
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However, there were aspects of one man’s display that clearly irked the former England striker.
“But there was part of the game I didn’t like,” he added. “I didn’t like Martinelli for me, running through, empty net and he’s celebrating before he puts the ball in the back of the net.
“He’s been rubbish for a month and he’s scoring a tap-in and celebrating before he’s even scored. [It’s a] lack of respect for your teammates. I didn’t like it.”
Martinelli faces Trossard battle
Martinelli has been at the heart of Arsenal’s revival under Mikel Arteta. Signed from Brazilian club Ituano in July 2019, he made his debut the following month.
Injury struck the following year, with the talented youngster out for six months after surgery on a knee injury. But he was back to his best last season making 29 league appearances.
He has excelled for Arteta this term but is now under pressure from Trossard. The Belgium interantional left Brighton to join Arsenal in January.
He was given the nod at Villa but Martinelli made his point with a goal eight minutes into stoppage time.
His form may have dipped slightly in recent weeks and former Premier League goalkeeper Shaka Hislop recently urged Arteta to drop him.
The Spanish tactician obliged but knows the winger has talent in abundance and is sure to regain his best form.
At 21, he has the majority of his career in front of him and Arsenal fans will hope he stays at the Emirates for many years.
He recently penned a new deal with the club, extending his stay at Arsenal until the summer of 2027.
Signed for a fee in the region of just £6m, his value will have already soared.
And, if the talented wide man’s career continues on its current trajectory, the capital outfit will make a tidy profit should they opt to sell.
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