Martinelli’s injury speaks volumes at Arsenal despite star’s season ending

Gabriel Martinelli’s season has ended early due to the ankle injury he picked up in Arsenal’s dismal 3-0 loss to Brighton. But despite missing the final couple of games, the Brazilian can still hold his head high after his performance this season.

Martinelli has been one of the standout players for Mikel Arteta. The winger seems to have been around for an age but is still only 21.

This season was the first where Arteta has hung his hat on him to be a starter week in, week out. The injury to Emile Smith Rowe at the beginning of the campaign meant he didn’t have as much competition for his place as he could have done.

But after scoring on the first day of the season at Crystal Palace, he hasn’t looked back. Martinelli has featured in all 36 league games Arsenal have played, starting all but two of them.

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He has had by far his best year in terms of goals, netting 15 times in the top flight. His previous best was six. He also registered five assists, just one fewer than last season’s tally.

Arsenal fans often compare current wide-attacking players to those the club have had before. And Martinelli’s record compared to the likes of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg speak volumes about his performance.

Pires and Ljungberg were perhaps more wide midfielders than wide forwards but are often the benchmark for Gunners supporters. Pires’ best record in terms of goals and assists in a league season for Arsenal was 24.

In the double-winning season of 2001/02, Pires scored nine goals and registered a stunning 15 assists. In the Invincibles year of 2003/04, he netted 14 times with eight assists.

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But the Frenchman was very much in his prime at that time. Martinelli is only just beginning his career but has already recorded 20 goal contributions in a single season.

Ljungberg, meanwhile, never managed to reach that tally in any of his seasons at Arsenal. His best campaign was 2004/05 where he scored 10 goals and added eight assists.

Martinelli must now back up what he has shown this term. Pires in particular was consistent in his returns, netting 14 times in three successive seasons between 2002 and 2005.

Martinelli will be disappointed that his season has finished early and that he has been unable to lead Arsenal to their first title since the days of Pires and Ljungberg. But despite not being able to stay fit for the whole season, the stats still show there is plenty to be excited about for the years to come.

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