Gabriel Martinelli told Mikel Arteta that he was ready to make amends for his midweek penalty miss – even after a sleepless night.
The Brazilian star agonisingly saw his spot-kick saved as Arsenal crashed out of the UEFA Europa League at home to Sporting Lisbon through tense shootout in their round of 16 second leg.
But Martinelli wanted to put things right as soon as possible, telling his manager to select him for Sunday’s Premier League game with Crystal Palace.
Arteta trusted him and was rewarded with a key performance, as Arsenal ran out 4-1 winners at the Emirates to forge an eight-point gap between them and Manchester City.
Martinelli took less than half an hour to break the deadlock, vindicating Arteta’s faith after talks behind closed doors on Saturday.
“I asked him yesterday how he was and he said, ‘I want to be in the team’,” Arteta revealed post-match. “He takes responsibility, chances and when you see him running around the next day with that energy, honestly I wasn’t very concerned about it.”
The 21-year-old’s reaction speaks volumes of his maturity, as did his own comments after the victory over Palace.
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“It’s life,” Martinelli conceded when asked about his penalty miss on Thursday. “Not every game you are going to score and play well. Of course I was sad and spent the whole night thinking about that penalty but it is over.
“I scored a goal today and we got the three points, the most important thing.”
Although the Brazil international was a constant threat against Palace, Bukayo Saka was the man of the match with two goals and an assist.
“It was a good goal, good pass from B [Saka’s nickname],” he went on to say. “I don’t know if it was to me or someone else but it was a good finish with my weak foot, good goal.”
Martinelli added: “We are very happy, we needed that win and as I always say, we approach the games as a final and we did that today.”