Mikel Arteta now told Arsenal star ‘doesn’t look natural’ in role vs Sporting

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Dean Ashton believes Gabriel Martinelli ‘doesn’t look natural’ as a striker at Arsenal. Mikel Arteta used the Brazilian centrally during his team’s Europa League trip to Sporting Lisbon.

The Gunners travelled to Portugal for the first leg of their last 16 tie without Gabriel Jesus or Eddie Nketiah. Arteta is still awaiting the former’s return after surgery on his medial ligament injury. While the latter is also still recovering at London Colney after suffering a minor injury.

Arteta elected to start Martinelli as a striker for Arsenal’s trip to Sporting having also now lost Leandro Trossard to a groin injury. The £27m January transfer had started centrally at home to AFC Bournemouth on Saturday in place of Jesus and Nketiah before the problem.

Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

What has Dean Ashton said about Gabriel Martinelli playing as a striker?

Martinelli took over the striker role as Arsenal came from 2-0 behind to beat Bournemouth 3-2 in the 97th minute. Arteta saw fit from his performance to keep the 21-year-old in the role at Sporting, as well. But Ashton felt his efforts did not suit the needs of that position.

“They’re able to craft these chances so beautifully,” the ex-West Ham United and England ace told talkSPORT (9/3, 18:59). “But it just doesn’t look natural for Martinelli to be there.”

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The Brazilian offered Arsenal a decent stand-in as a striker vs Sporting

While Ashton – who was a striker in his playing days – did not feel Martinelli matched the role, he offered Arsenal a decent stand-in option for the position against Sporting. He had a fair few chances to find the back of the net and worked hard to cover the yards for Arteta.

Jeremiah St Juste also prevented Martinelli from scoring a scintillating solo goal with a vital last-ditch tackle. The Brazilian rode four tackles as he cut through the Leoes from inside his own half. But Martinelli needing to round Antonio Adan gave St Juste the time to get back.

Arteta also only had Martinelli as a striker against Sporting due to the injuries Arsenal have suffered in the position. He has proven he can cause defenders an endless stream of issues from the left-wing. The six-cap star has scored 11 and assisted three goals so far this term.

In other news, ‘Compete against Chelsea’: Sky pundit slams some Liverpool fans’ action regarding FSG

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