An analysis of the performances & underlying stats of Arsenal and Brazil winger Gabriel Martinelli in 2023–2024, compared to his displays last season.
Arsenal fans have significant concerns about the form and fitness of winger Gabriel Martinelli this season. The Brazilian flier was one of the team’s best attacking outlets last season but has not shone at the same level in the Premier League this term. While Martinelli has found it more challenging to penetrate teams and score goals, he did manage to get a goal in a recent Premier League game against Liverpool. Below is our analysis of whether Martinelli is having a decent season or needs to up his game between now and May.
Martinelli Bursts Onto the Scene
While Gabriel Martinelli has been on Arsenal’s first team since the 2019–2020 season, he only broke through as a top-class player in the Premier League last season. The football odds for him to score goals were lower in 2020, 2021, and even at the start of 2022. Only midway through 2022 did he begin to emerge as a top player who could impact the biggest games. Fans will be hoping that what Martinelli is experiencing this season is a blip, not a sign of things to come. The flying winger has managed 36 goals and 17 assists for the club in 149 games.
A Scintillating 2022-2023 Season for Martinelli
The previous campaign, which saw Arsenal come second in the Premier League behind Manchester City, was great for Martinelli in particular. The forward was in the scoring form of his life, netting 15 times in the Premier League and managing five assists. Fans thought Martinelli could sustain such numbers throughout his career, but that has not yet materialized.
What appeared to shine through in Martinelli last season was his finishing ability, as he often took half chances and stuck the ball in the back of the net. While he has scored a few goals in 2023–2024, he does not appear to have the same cutting edge when given a big chance.
Has Martinelli Been Found Out?
One of the most interesting theories from Premier League fans is that Martinelli has been “found out” by opposition defenders. Such a statement would imply that teams can better handle the player’s threat, which is why he cannot get anywhere near last season’s goals and assists numbers.
However, the underlying statistics do not match that narrative, as Martinelli has been very impressive on and off the ball. He is in the 94th percentile for non-penalty goals for wingers, while he is in the 88th percentile for expected goals and assists. While the raw numbers for goals and assists are not as impressive as last season, he is still in an elite group of wingers in the Premier League. Fans thinking he would develop into a top-class striker may have to appreciate what he offers out wide instead.
Another area where Martinelli is excelling this season is with his progressive carries. He is in the 86th percentile of winners for progressive carries and the 96th percentile for progressive passes received. Martinelli is a creative hub for Arsenal this season, even if he isn’t getting on the scoresheet as often as last term.
Finding the Right Balance at Arsenal
One area where Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has struggled this season is finding the ideal balance between defense and attack. A subtle change in the team’s style, along with the summer signing of Declan Rice, has made the Gunners very tough to beat. The added solidity has come at a cost, as Arsenal do not create or score with as much fluency as last term.
Martinelli may be one of the players negatively impacted by the team’s change in emphasis on control over all-out attack. The pacey forward prefers to run at teams with intensity but is often asked to play a more cautious and methodical game.
Where Does Arsenal Go From Here?
How Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, and the team’s other young talents will be perceived depends entirely on the trophies they win for the club. If they can secure a Premier League title in the next season or two, Arsenal’s current crop will be seen as equals to the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.
Should they fail to win important trophies, Martinelli and Saka may be seen as flattering to deceive. While their underlying stats are outstanding, what Arsenal fans want more than anything else is the Premier League or Champions League trophy. A big decision now rests with manager Mikel Arteta, who must decide whether the team needs to continue its new style of being more methodical and safe or revert to last season’s high-octane, attacking style.