Mikel Arteta says Gabriel Martinelli is not currently an option to replace Gabriel Jesus through the middle, though that could change if Arsenal sign a new winger.
The Gunners resumed their Premier League campaign at home to West Ham in Boxing Day’s evening kick-off, though they are without Jesus after he returned from the World Cup early with a knee injury that required surgery.
In the absence of the Brazilian forward – who has been impressive this season despite a lack of goals – Arteta has opted to pick Eddie Nketiah to lead the line.
The 23-year-old forward performed excellently at the end of last season and Arteta is hoping for more of the same while Jesus is out injured.
But the Arsenal boss also had the option to use Martinelli up top, though he says playing the younger Brazilian through the middle is not currently possible given the lack of wingers in his squad.
Asked if he has considered shifting Martinelli into a central striker role, Arteta told Amazon Prime Video: ‘We have thought about it.
‘But unfortunately we have as well Emile Smith Rowe and we have Reiss [Nelson] injured, so we are lacking wingers at the moment.
‘So making one change at the minute is probably better than making two or three.
‘So let’s keep everybody doing their strengths, Eddie has been doing really for us and he needs that opportunity.’
Arteta’s options could increase if they manage to secure a deal for Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, which would then allow Martinelli to move into a central role.
Despite the absence of Jesus, Arsenal legend and Amazon pundit Thierry Henry feels the Gunners are well equipped for the resumption of the Premier League campaign – particularly with so few of their players playing extensive roles at the World Cup.
He explained: ‘It is a strong squad. Ramsdale as well did not play, Saliba did not play for France, Partey went out early, Martinelli obviously we know. Saka is the one that played the most minutes, Odegaard did not go. So it’s not a bad thing for Arsenal if I think about it.
‘When you look at that team, for me, it doesn’t matter who plays, they have togetherness – once you have that, and you have momentum, you can go places. But because of the World Cup you put a little stop into the momentum, but there is something [special] that is happening at the club at the minute.’
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