Martinelli & Smith Rowe: Rest Them or Unleash Them?

The Future

We’ll have a full pre-match report for the Brighton game tomorrow, but to stir the pot (as it were) here’s a big conundrum that Mikel Arteta has to grapple with: does he start Smith Rowe and Martinelli against the Seagulls after their hugely encouraging outings against Chelsea on Saturday?

There’s no doubting that the pair injected a sense of energy, skill and pace into our team against the West Londoners and, based on that, it seems obvious that they should start against Brighton.

And yet… Martinelli recently returned from a really serious injury and has played a fair bit of football in the last week (just over a half against Manchester City and 70 minutes against the Chavs). In the Man City game he also took a hefty blow which forced him off early.

With that in mind, would we be taking too much of a risk by starting him tomorrow? He looks like our most exciting and dangerous attacker so the last thing we need is for him to suffer another long absence.

Likewise with Smith Rowe. Although he has not had the same injury problems as Martinelli, he has had very limited first team experienced and almost all young players who make a breakthrough into the senior line-up risk hitting a wall if they’re over-played.

There’s also the question of Aubameyang’s return. He was on the bench on Saturday and is likely to be fit to start against Brighton. As the captain you’d have to assume he’s an automatic pick, but who gets dropped? Martinelli? Smith Rowe? Saka?

Based on the evidence so far this season, I say we look better with that young trio than with Auba, but can you really see El Patron making that call?

All I know is that if our starting line-up includes Auba, Pepe and Willian with no place for Smith Rowe and Martinelli I will feel somewhat deflated.

What would you do if you were Arteta?



15 Responses to Martinelli & Smith Rowe: Rest Them or Unleash Them?

  1. LB says:

    I think there is a pattern that I don’t think has been mentioned before; we have heard it said that Arsenal are now being able to beat the bigger teams, something that we haven’t been able to do for a while, but no one has ventured a reason as to why?

    Look no further than the Chelsea game to see the connection; there was no sign of fear from the chavs when they took to the field, why should there have been with our recent run of form; they arrived at THOF and set about attacking us with the firm confidence that they intended and expected to win, this approach made for a very open game, a game with lots of space to exploit, and exploit it we did.

    This is the common link, teams that expect to win play a much more open game, this applies to Manu, Liverpool and City of last season.

    Contrast that with the upcoming Brighton game and the difference starts to become a bit clearer; they will not expect to win, they will sit back crowd the midfield and hope to hit us on the break and why not many lesser teams have had a great deal of success with that strategy, take the recent spuds game as the perfect example.

    The simple reason we have not been able to break teams down such as Brighton is because we haven’t had the players who have the close control to operate in tight space.

    Well now we do: Marinelli, Smith-Rowe and Saka with Lacazette in the box are exactly the players we need to break down Brighton and I, like many I suspect feel that it is imperative that they start tomorrow.

  2. LB says:

    A quick word on David Luiz. If you look at his long career then his reputation for having a mistake in his locker is justified but if you have watched the recent games and judge him just on those then only a person’s dislike of him because he played for Chelsea should stop the same person seeing how well he has played and how much he brings to the team.

    David Luiz is a very important clog in out defence and should not be put in the same category at Willian, who has a reputation for being a very effective player but is playing — use any expletive you want.

  3. Babatope Ogunleye says:

    will play the team that destroyed Chelsea. Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli. The latter can play either half.


  4. Rasp says:

    That’s the big question Rocky. It’s decisions like this where we have to trust the manager. He is privy to all the technical data from the fitness coaches and the other staff who assess the player” readiness to play.

    My heart says start with exactly the same side, with maybe Gabriel in for Mari. That team not only functioned with 11 defending when needed but also had the ambition and technique to unlock the ‘soak up the pressure and hit them on the counter’ defences as LB says. I wonder how they would have fared against totnum?

  5. RockyLives says:

    I have the same concerns about playing the “lower” teams who are more likely to sit back and defend against us.

    But (like you, I think) I feel we have a much better chance of breaking them down with Martinelli-Smith Rowe-Saka-Laca than with Auba-Laca-Willian.

    Aubameyang in particular is an amazing player when there’s space, but who struggles when it’s tight.

    I’d be very happy if the same eleven that took the field against Chelsea do so against Brighton.

    I heard that Gabriel is out for another couple of games because of Covid contact. If Luiz is available then he should start alongside Holding. The pecking order at CB for me now is Gabriel, Holding, Luiz, Mari, Mustafi. I’d like to see Chambers in the mix but he’s had a long time out.

  6. Aaron says:

    Rocky thank you for dong the hard work.

    Saka, Balo, Nelson, AMN, Willock, and Azeez somewhere in there at sometime, rest ESR or Saka and plug in Pepe if the youngster is at the limit, which he is or is getting close.

    Defense sorts itself, Holding has to be in there, but can’t get myself to play Luiz or Willian at this time.

    pool have a tough time breaking down 6-4-0 line ups.

  7. GoonerB says:

    Firstly Rocky a big thank-you for this and the many posts you put up. Even when I lack time to get on to comment I always read back on them.

    Since the Chelsea game I realise that most feel quite strongly regarding our young players over many of the more experienced ones. I quite heartily agree and have also wanted to see far more of the likes of Martinelli, Smith-Rowe and Saka over certain “more established” players.

    However, I would caution against writing off the more experienced players and having all our eggs in the rookie basket. That could equally damage them, physically as you mention Rocky, but also psychologically if too much is on their shoulders too young.

    LB makes a point about the importance of Luiz in an earlier comment, and I fully concur with that view. He is important to us and I stand by my view that we don’t win last seasons FA cup without him.

    Similarly Aubamayeng shouldn’t be considered a mere back up player just because he has been off form. How can someone with his goal-scoring record who almost won the golden boot last year suddenly be 2nd rate?

    Perhaps more controversially would be a look at Pepe and Willian. Willian is a highly regarded player who has always been effective. Pepe had a prolific goal scoring and assist rate before arriving at us.

    My question is how have so many previously highly effective players suddenly become suds to the point that they should be binned for a bunch of rookie players, albeit very talented and exciting ones.

    These youngsters represent the future but also the here and now to some large degree but need good experience a d back up around them.

    LB, I thought your point about how we have been more effective against the better sides while struggling with the traditional lesser teams was quite insightful, but would like to add to it.

    There was a slight difference between this game and the other ones we won at the end of last season. Those games we tended to soak up pressure with a disciplined formation and hit on the break to good effect. This last game felt more like we were the dominant team from the outset. Why?

    There is one big factor that hasn’t been mentioned so much among the enthusiasm for our youngsters, and that is that we witnessed a certain formation for the first time.

    It was the first time that we witnessed the 4-2-3-1 formation used at its most effective. That being a creative midfielder operating in a free role with 2 holding midfielders behind, a number 9 ahead and 2 inverted wing forwards either side.

    I know I have banged the drum about the inverted wing forward as well as the creative 3rd midfielder, but I still strongly believe it is highly relevant and was on show in this game as much as much as the positivity of youth. It is why I feel we can still utilise some of the currently much maligned players if we set up correctly

    I dont put much credence on MOTD analysis but Danny Murphy’s bit on how effective our FB’s were causing Chelsea all sorts of issues is worth looking at. But these are the same two FB’s that we normally operate with, so why were they suddenly much better?

    Well one reason is likely as LB suggested that Chelsea commit more players leaving it a more open game. However I believe the inverted wing forward player allows for a more effective, dynamic overlap than a non inverted one.

    I have felt with a traditional right footed wide player right an the left one on the left the instinct of the attacking wide player is to hold wide mostly and whip in balls. This means that a lot of the time the FB just runs into the same space as them with the only option being one of them crossing.

    Also when a right footer comes in from the right they are less a goal threat so I think the opposition FB can leave him a bit more and concentrate on closing off the option for the FB to overlap.

    With a left footer on the right (and ditto on the right) a lot of the time they come infield and create the space outside of them for the FB to exploit.

    Not only that but a left footer coming in off the right flank is a greater goal threat so the opposition defence feel more obliged to come across with him to cover a potential shooting opportunity this enhancing the overlapping space for the FB.

    Personally I feel this was on show a lot in this game and in the MOTD analysis on our FB’s and is really important to us moving forwards

  8. GoonerB says:

    Sorry, some phone typos. Hope you got the gist.

    And just to emphasise this I just had to change “gist” 3 times from goat, fist and fiat.

  9. VP says:

    just saw this on the bbc
    Arsenal have offered German playmaker Mesut Ozil, 32, to Juventus on a six-month loan and would subsidise his wages to help make the deal happen. (Tuttosport via Sun)

  10. VP says:

    I also read online that if we had lost against Chelsea, Rafa Benitez wouldve been appointed

  11. LB says:

    Good point on the formation GB, is it really the first time we have used it, I can’t remember, I will take your word for it.

  12. RockyLives says:

    Good comment GoonerB

    I feel we have tried that formation before but with the wrong personnel.

    Martinelli and ESR made a real difference, as did Saka as the right wing back.

    I think it would be good for the atmosphere around the club if Ozil went out. Nothing against him personally, it’s just that it can’t make for a smooth dressing room when the most individually gifted player in the squad is out in the cold.

  13. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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