Arteta hails ‘phenomenal’ Martinelli rise; told players Liverpool were ‘there for the taking’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was high in praise of Gabriel Martinelli following his terrific performance against Liverpool on Sunday.

The Brazilian international was superb as his side beat the Reds 3-2.

Martinelli had struggled for game time under Arteta before becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet last year.

On the 21-year-old’s opening goal against Liverpool, the Arsenal manager told Sky Sports: “It was the best way to start because of the belief it generates in the stadium, so we’re really happy.”

On Martinelli, Arteta added: “When you see where he is a year ago from when he played against Brentford to where he is today is phenomenal but it is his desire to train hard every day.

“It is a nightmare to play against him and we know we have a real threat up front.”

Victory against Liverpool was a huge statement with Arsenal back on top of the Premier League.

“There were a lot of moments and the threat they have they can open you up, but we showed a lot of composure and character,” Arteta added after the game.

“We could not get out [before half-time] because we were not good in our build up and to play the ball inside is very difficult. We started to lose some duels and we needed to hang in there to get to half-time.”

Arteta said his half-time team talk was all about letting his players know the game was there for the taking.

“It [the team talk] was lively but we wanted to give confidence and tell them the game was there for the taking. [In the second half] the organisation was better, the timing of the press, we won every second ball.

“I was really happy. You are always in doubt with the changes and how many players they were putting on or last lie but the players dealt with it with a lot of maturity and composure.”

Martinelli – who ran Trent Alexander-Arnold ragged before he was substituted at half-time – says his inexperience means nothing, it’s all about how much “heart” you have. How adorable.

“It means a lot for us,” the young winger told Sky Sports.

“We have been working hard and we deserve the win and we need to keep going because the season is long and we want to achieve good things.

“We are running for each other and we are a family, everyone is on their toes and we deserved the win.

“It doesn’t matter your age, it’s your heart and how much you want to achieve in football and life. That is the most important thing.

“We need to believe and go game by game trying to win all of them.”

Bukayo Saka was on the scoresheet twice, netting the winning goal from the penalty spot after converting an excellent pass from Martinelli right before half-time.

Saka praised Liverpool for always making it difficult for his side over the years and knows the result will give him and his teammates “confidence”.

“In the past two or three years, Liverpool have been a team we have struggled against,” he said.

“To win in front of our fans is special and it shows how much we are progressing.

“It gives us more confidence because they are a fantastic team and we have a lot of respect for them. I feel like we deserved to lead at half-time so to get that goal was crucial. I want to score more now.”

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