March 26, 2023

Arsenal need to act fast if they are to find a solution to Gabriel Jesus’ long-term injury and maintain their Premier League title hopes.

The £45million summer signing has been ruled out for three months after picking up a knee injury whilst on World Cup duty with Brazil. This leaves Eddie Nketiah as the club’s only other natural striker and the Gunners weighing up their options ahead of the January transfer window.

However, there could already be a quick fix for Mikel Arteta in north London, with the chance to immediately accelerate a long-term plan for one of the club’s star assets. This could save a large sum of money which would otherwise be spent on a short-term fix next month.

That player in question is none other than Jesus’ teammate at club and international level, Gabriel Martinelli. The 21-year-old has exploded into life this season to help the Gunners mount an unlikely title charge. He has become a guaranteed starter on the left wing and contributed five goals and two assists in 14 Premier League appearances.

It could be time for Arteta to take advantage of the frightening pace at which he is developing by deploying him in a more central role to deal with the three-month absence of his comrade.

12 months ago, Martinelli was struggling for game time in north London as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette sat ahead of him in the pecking order. However, it was revealed that Arteta had been laying the foundations of a long-term plan for the Brazilian during training.

The 21-year-old had been used as a central striker during a training game, working on holding the ball with his back to goal, even though he had previously suggested his favourite position was on the left side of a front-three.

By that time, he had already started as Arsenal ’s centre-forward for the 2-0 defeat by Chelsea in their second game of the 2021/22 season, while Arteta began using him in that role during training sessions once more following the exit of Aubameyang in January this year.

This season campaign, Martinelli played a cameo role up front when coming on as a late substitute against PSV in the Europa League back in October, with Arteta showing that he is not afraid to use the Brazilian at the tip of the attack if necessary.

What could spur the Spaniard to make it more of a common occurrence is the return of Emile Smith Rowe, who is nearing a full recovery from his long-term groin issue. The youngster can operate on the left of a front three, while Reiss Nelson is also waiting in the wings for any opportunity.

With that in mind, Arteta could finally put into practice what he has been working towards for the past 12 months. Martinelli’s goal contributions this season have already shown what a threat he is from the left, meaning a place as the central attacker could reap further rewards for everyone involved.

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