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The manager finally came clean on Gabriel Martinelli.

‘If anything it’s my fault. He trains incredibly, and his attitude couldn’t be better. He’s really disappointed he’s not playing more obviously, and I have spoke to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient’

Soooooo, it’s not that he hates aggressive players. It’s not about being vindictive. It’s not about disagreements on the future of blockchain art. It’s a patience thing.

This story is the Pepe thing all over again. Everyone thought the Ivorian was being treated unfairly and deserved a run, then suddenly, he lands some games, and he’s looked much improved from where he was before.

Gabriel is a raw talent. He’s had big injury issues. He’s a teenager, and all bar the freaks come with consistency challenges, especially those playing tough positions.

At the moment, it’s hard to argue he starts in front of anyone. Auba and Lacazette have been doing very specific jobs in the #9 role. Pepe and Willian have come into form and are delivering when called upon. Then you have cogs in the system like Saka, ESR, and Odegaard who can work effectively against top-quality deep blocks dropping high ball retention numbers in the process.

More importantly, if you are on the one hand arguing that the only thing that matters is the table, but on the other, shouting that we should be playing inconsistent teenagers week in week out, I’d questions your story here.

Gabriel is a bang-bang striker. Raw power and place. A press demon. My suspicion is that his future with us is as a #9. Imagine him leading the charge? It’d be dreamy. Trouble is, right now, when every game feels like we’re on the edge of an #ArtetaOut campaign, it’s hard to give him minutes. Our team requires control, it needs consistency, and we’re finding more of that in other players. Our club is already battling errors on a mega scale, adding less control doesn’t feel right. However, no doubt when he’s brought in, it’ll be in an environment that works for his game… and hopefully at a time when it works.

Look at this like the Phil Foden case. Everyone was complaining about the lack of chances he was getting, now he’s being decisive in big games, dealing out killer blows in the Champions League. In December, Pep was a disgrace to young players, a little bit of patience later, and we have one of the most exciting kids in Europe rocking it at new levels.

Part of this constant drip-drip of fans caring about things that didn’t happen comes from the Saliba/Guendo issues. I think the Saliba thing has now been settled, he was never landing minutes in this defence playing the way it is, and there are very few cases of teenagers smashing it in the Premier League. He’s building himself out with hard experience and good minutes in France. He’s getting game fitness and he’s going to transition to a player hopefully worthy of first-team action this season. Same for Mavrapanos who is building out resilience at Stuttgart. Then you have Matteo G, an all-action midfielder that couldn’t behave. Far too many fans mistake being a dickhead with caring. It’s the opposite. If you can’t behave in a fast-paced system, you are a burden. The player knows his career at Arsenal is dead, but he’ll also be very aware that his manager Dardai has grown tired of him, calling him an ‘animal’ when it comes to learning, starting him once since the start of Feb. Matteo is on the charm offensive now.

“I belong to Arsenal for another year (until June 2022). I am here [at Hertha Berlin] to improve. From the moment that I am playing for Arsenal, I will give everything for this club, for the fans, for the team, for the staff. I will work hard for the shirt as I have always done.”

“There are huge players who came to England early and didn’t make it,” he said. “Even more in a very large club. If I hadn’t had this character, I would never have played so many matches at Arsenal.”

He’s telling the world that 1) I play for Arsenal 2) I made it in England as a teenager. The hope is that another club will take a chance on a player that is fast developing a rep as feckless as Italian enigma Mario Ballotelli.

Let’s hope the charm offensive works. I’d love to sell him for a good fee. We won’t do that if he’s perceived as a bad boy, we also won’t manage that if he’s kept out of a Hertha midfield frequented by Sammy Khedira, a player we said was busted for an Arsenal move 5 years ago. Matteo G is his own worst enemy. ‘Why always me’ feels like the playbook he’s working off and it’s such a huge waste of time for everyone.

The big question on everyone’s lips this week is WHAT IS AUBA GONNA DO? Arteta said this in his prezzer.

“We talked, everything has been resolved in a really positive way so we move forward”

It hurts to be called out, but given the circumstances, it’d be tough for Auba to carry through any sort of animosity. His team just spanked Spurs. The vibes would be too good to take a mood into the week.

Hopefully, the response comes with goals. His insta had him picking up an award from his bro, Lacazette. He seemed to be smiling and happy. Which is where we want him to be.

More positives? Bukayo Saka is apparently in good shape. No doubt the medical team will see that as a bit of a warning. Hopefully he’s in the right condition for the game at the weekend. Let’s see where that goes. I’d be happy to shithouse a 0-0 this Thursday and preserve legs for West Ham. Arteta is 100% focused on the win, then I guess he’s hoping international break can be a cottonwool cocoon for a lot of the kids.

‘It’s true that we have some players with some significant loads there, but our priority now is to win these next two games and then whatever happens with international duty. If anything, they will have to adapt to what we want. We’re not going to do it the opposite way around because we are the ones that have to look after our players here every day. But at the end, we’re the ones who pay our players so if anybody has to adapt, that’s the national teams and not us.’

More positives? Let’s all enjoy some high praise for Martin O and his relationship with ESR.

That was our feeling. But you never know. You have to see him in action, you have to see his character a little bit closer, on a daily basis. I think everybody has been really impressed with how quickly he has adapted. Professionally, how he is and how willing he has been since day one to try to engage with everybody at Colney and then also with the performances that he’s putting in as well.

He is getting better and better (Martin). I think his understanding of what we want is excellent. His work rate has been phenomenal and then he’s doing something that, in my opinion, could improve a lot which is getting in the opponents’ box and maybe being more decisive in the scoreline. He is doing that with the two goals and he’s had some really important entries into the zones and he looks all the time really dangerous. If he adds that to his game, he becomes a real complete player.

Man, post-NLD win week is always sexy for news. Personally, I love the fact that we finally got a January loan move right. Martin Odegaard is the exact profile of player you’d want in the side. The fact that he’s finding ways to work with ESR, and ESR is still pivotal is a joyous moment. I wrote quite extensively about a few years ago about Arsenal becoming the best place for young players to develop… more signings like Odegaard would help that become a reality. It’s easier to love a team of hungry kids. Let’s hope Edu recognises the value and how much easier his life is when you’re not sniffing around the Kia ‘very good deal’ bin.

Finally, let’s finish on elite vibes. Kieran Tierney absolutely bossing in the North London Derby. He’s a fan favourite for the ages. What an unreal signing he is. He’s going places.



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