Hector Bellerin has backed Arsenal’s teenage hotshot Gabriel Martinelli to go far in the game as he has the attitude to match his goalscoring prowess.
The 18-year-old streaked clear from inside his own half to score against Chelsea on Tuesday night as the 10-man Gunners twice came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw.
David Luiz was sent off on his return to Stamford Bridge, fouling Tammy Abraham after defensive partner Shkodran Mustafi’s error had sent the forward through.
Jorginho tucked away the resulting penalty but no Chelsea onslaught followed as Arsenal showed character and fight, levelling first through Martinelli’s strike and then courtesy of Bellerin after Cesar Azpilicueta had put the Blues back on top.
Martinelli became the first teenager to reach double figures in a season for Arsenal since Nicolas Anelka and the feat is even more remarkable given the summer signing from the lower leagues of Brazilian football has started only 11 games since his arrival.
But Bellerin, who returned from a hamstring injury to start his first game in a month, believes there is more to Martinelli’s approach than simply knowing how to find the back of the net.
“To be fair there are not many,” he replied when asked when was the last time he had seen an 18-year-old with similar ability.
“A lot of people talk about his talent, but what people don’t see is that Gabi is a professional. He turns up early every day.
“He does all the stuff and everything anyone asks him to do. He is the first player to press and the last player to leave everything on the pitch.
“The goals are just a plus. He helps us in every single way and the thing that everyone needs to praise him for his attitude. That is what makes him a player.”
Asked how far Martinelli could go, Bellerin added: “I think he is obviously really young in his career – so many things can happen – but if he keeps his head where it is right now, he is going to go really far for sure.”
While Arsenal drew plenty of plaudits for their battling point, the club have still only won one Premier League game of the six matches under new head coach Mikel Arteta.
They remain 10th in the table, 10 points adrift of Chelsea in the final Champions League place.
The improvements are clear on the pitch, if not yet on the results, and Bellerin has backed his fellow Spaniard’s initial impact on the Arsenal squad.
“I think one of the most important things to be able to be confident in the game is to believe in the manager,” he said of Arteta.
“I think we have all realised that if we play the way he tells us to play we will do great things and everyone is really motivated.
“Everyone is playing for each other, everyone is running. You could see that in the last 10, 15 minutes of the game – we had 10 players in our box defending for their lives. That is what it is about. Sometimes that is the way to win games.”