Soccer

Arsenal attack set for January boost with return of Arteta’s ‘Ronaldo’

Arsenal have a clear issue under Mikel Arteta this season – a lack of goals.

The Gunners have got off to their worst start to a top flight season in 22 years in terms of goalscoring having found the net just nine times so far this Premier League campaign.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not found the net since the opening day having been deployed in a wide position, whilst centre-forwards Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah have managed just four Premier League goals between them.

The issue is a cause for concern despite clear strides to strengthen their defence and tighten things up at the back.

Fortunately, Arteta is set to be handed a lifeline in January – without the need of the transfer market.

That’s because Gabriel Martinelli is nearing his return to full fitness having been sidelined since June 21 with a left knee injury.

He underwent successful surgery shortly before penning a new long-term deal and was initially ruled out until the end of 2020.

However, he has been running outside at London Colney and has been involved in group sessions, with the club confirming the aim to return to full training by December.

Whilst they are unlikely to rush back the teenage talent, Martinelli is expected to be back in action and ready to be unleashed by Arteta in the New Year.

And the Brazilian could be just what the doctor ordered to solve their lack of attacking spark having drawn comparisons with compatriot Ronaldo for his ruthless streak baring down on goal.

The comparison was first made by Brazilian great Ronaldinho speaking to the Mirror last year.

"We as Brazilians are very excited about him and his future,” Ronaldinho said.

"It is one thing to have the talent – but another at the age of 18 to have the confidence.

"He reminds me of Ronaldo, his first season in Europe he scored 30 goals and people were thinking: 'Who is this 18-year-old Brazilian kid?’

"He wanted the ball, he would run at players, there was no fear no matter what players or team he was playing against – and I see that similar attitude in Martinelli.

"He just wants to be on the ball and score goals.

"Ronaldo went on to be the best player in the world – and that can can also be the aim of Martinelli.”

As he nears his return, former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell has made the same comparison and backed Martinelli to make an impact when he returns.

Campbell told Football Insider: “I think Martinelli is the one, I really do. Martinelli was sensational when he came in last season.

“He is a real handful – strong, direct and reminds me of the Brazilian Ronaldo.

“The way that he picks up the ball and runs at goal is phenomenal.

“I am not saying that he is Ronaldo but he reminds me of him, especially with that goal he scored at Chelsea.

“[He’s got a] big future but I do not want to put too much pressure on him because he suffered that injury and he needs time to come back and get his feet under the table again, get comfortable and play games.

“Players tend to get long-term injuries and then come back and pick a niggle up somewhere else.

“He will need time to get back into the swing of things.”

Although Campbell attached his comments with a word of warning that patience may be required after his lay-off, his return will be a welcome addition for Arteta.

Despite previously playing out wide, Arteta has highlighted he sees Martinelli in a central role in the long run.

Back in March, the Spaniard said: "[Aubameyang and Martinelli] are centre forwards but with the squad balance that we have at the moment, to play on those positions on the left we don’t have five players.”

Martinelli’s 10 goals in all competitions last term saw him become the first teenager since Nicolas Anelka to reach double figures for the Gunners.

Now, he will hope to step things up and live up to Ronaldo comparisons to give Arteta and the Gunners what they have been missing.

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