Arsenal legend claims starlet ‘could be a handful’ as a false nine

Arsenal legend Alan Smith believes their youngster Gabriel Martinelli “could be a handful” if he is operated as a false nine in the coming weeks.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury last year, Martinelli has played 58 times for Arsenal since he joined the club at the start of the 2019/20 campaign.

He is in good form at the moment as he scored an impressive volley as the Gunners beat Newcastle 2-0 at the end of November.

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The 20-year-old then registered an assist as Arsenal were beaten 3-2 by Manchester United last week.

Mikel Arteta’s side travel to Goodison Park to face Everton in the Premier League on Monday night.

Appearing on the Off the Ball YouTube channel, Smith suggested that Martinelli’s recent performances have been “encouraging”:

“Arteta could go with a false nine, which a lot of the top coaches like to do,” Smith said.

“Martinelli’s re-emergence has been encouraging. He had an injury and he fell away. Then his confidence seemed to have taken a dip.

“But now he’s getting that competitive edge back and that fitness back, then he could be a handful. I don’t think he is going to be the answer through the middle. But short-term maybe he could do a job.

“I think if you have got a nice structure that everyone understands then it’s a bit easier for somebody like Martinelli to move inside and do a job.

“We have seen it at Manchester City with Bernardo Silva, Sterling and Foden. They have all played through the middle because everyone understands the system and how it works. And Arteta is trying to move towards that.

“There’s no doubt he is a talent. Someone who has got the pace. The appetite and it might be something, in the short-term, he could do.”

Elsewhere, Brazilian legend Kleberson has suggested that Martinelli deserves to be playing more:

“Teams need players like him, that can decide games in any given moment and that create opportunities in the tighter games.

“The more minutes he gets for Arsenal, the more he will grow and demonstrate his quality. It’s great for Arsenal to have players of his calibre. It’s also great for the manager, because he can change the formation with Martinelli’s versatility.”

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