Takehiro Tomiyasu has conceded he does not like facing Gabriel Martinelli in training at the Emirate because “he never stops”.
Martinelli has established himself as one of Arsenal’s best players. The winger has scored seven Premier League goals this campaign to help the Gunners go five points clear of Man City at the top of the table with a game in hand.
As a full-back, one of Tomiyasu’s assignment in training is to mark Martinelli. That is not an easy task, as the Brazilian star is regarded as one of the most exciting youngsters in England.
Tomiyasu was asked by GOAL to name the Arsenal player he would not like to face in a competitive match. He said: “Gabriel Martinelli. He never stops.”
Tomiyasu accompanied his reply with a smile. He added: “He has pace, aggression. He’s still young, but when he has the ball he wants to make the difference, he wants to do something.”
Tomiyasu, who has won 32 senior caps for Japan, was signed by Arsenal from Bologna in August 2021. He quickly became a key member of Arsenal’s starting lineup but was restricted to just 21 Premier League games last campaign due to injury.
But, Tomiyasu has also struggled for minutes this season due to Ben White’s form at right-back. White played with Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back last campaign but took Tomiyasu’s spot after Saliba returned from his loan spell at Marseille.
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Tomiyasu has admitted it is tough not playing on a regular basis but insists his main aim is to support the team. He added: “You have to accept the reality. Ben White has been doing very well. He is fantastic.
“Of course I want to play from the start. The only thing I can do is prove my value on the pitch and show what I can do. I just want to help the team. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing from the start or not. When I’m on the pitch I give everything.”
There is a good chance Tomiyasu would return to the Arsenal team if White, Magalhaes or Saliba suffered an injury. He is also capable of playing at centre-back or left-back.
“Tomi has been playing left centre-back for his national team Japan,” said Arteta last September.
“When you look at the games, he can play as a left-back too, because you cannot tell me if he’s a left or right-footed player.
“So we have the options there [in defence], and we have to utilise them in the best possible way. Especially with the number of minutes we are going to have in the next few weeks, and it’s great that players are comfortable doing more than one position.”