Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal fans not to expect Gabriel Martinelli to save their season, but sent a clear message to his young players about the pressure they are facing.
Martinelli is close to returning to first team action after a lengthy spell out with injury. It has meant he has been unable to kick on from his positive debut season in the Premier League.
While his absence has not been the only factor in Arsenal’s struggles, the team have certainly been suffering without him. They are 15th in the league after winning just four of their opening 14 games.
Struggling to score has been a major factor in their downturn in fortunes. The last time they scored more than once in a single Premier League game was in their first game of October, against winless Sheffield United.
Hence, if Martinelli can recapture the form that saw him score 10 goals in all competitions last season, he would be a major boost to the club’s fortunes.
However, Arteta is keen to stress that the 19-year-old should not be seen as the sole saviour of their season.
“We cannot put that pressure on Gabi’s shoulders,” Arteta said. “He brings that enthusiasm that the fans can see but remember what Gabi has done in the Premier League is very limited.
“Let him develop like we do with many young kids we have here.”
However, with several of his senior players not living up to expectations, there has perhaps been more pressure on some of the younger members of the squad.
Arteta claims that experiencing these struggles is an essential part of their learning process.
“It’s part of what they have to do and what they have to go through to become really important players for this football club,” he explained. “You have to see how people react around them in difficult moments.
“They have to experience themselves to get through this difficult moments and how they are going to handle the pressure.
“If they’re able to do that they will have to handle good moments and how the handle bad, to continue performing at the level that is required here.
“It’s another experience for them, they’ve been much more mature, responsible and efficient then I was expecting. In my opinion they’re doing really well.”
Arteta hoping for Carabao Cup reaction
Arsenal have a chance to get back on track when they face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
Their form has been better in cup competitions under Arteta, who led them to silverware in the FA Cup last season.
The manager believes they can use the Carabao Cup as a platform from which to improve their self-belief.
“Well this is what we want to use it for. As well this is a competition that we want to try to win.
“We had two difficult opponents before with Leicester and Liverpool. We managed to beat them both and now we’re playing at home, we’re one step closer to Wembley.
“It’s a really nice game for us to play because it’s the type of game we’re looking for through the season.”
However, they will have to get through the game without their captain, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is injured. He sat out the loss to Everton at the weekend.
“Auba is not fit for tomorrow, that’s for sure,” Arteta confirmed. “We will see who’s available because we have a few doubts in other positions.”