Martinelli inspires Arsenal rout over Standard Liege
Young Brazilian striker scores twice, but Ozil misses out after Emery declares 'other players deserved their places more'
03 October, 2019 — By Paul Cowling at the Emirates Stadium
Qualifying Group F
ARSENAL 4 (Martinelli 13,16, Willock 22, Ceballos 57)
STANDARD LIEGE 0
UNAI Emery declared “historically Arsenal have a responsibility with young players” after seeing his team of youngsters secure a commanding victory over Standard Liege in the Europa League tonight (Thursday) at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners head coach said his side played “perfect” as they made light work of their mediocre Belgian visitors to tighten their grip at the top of Group F.
Strikes from Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos followed up a quick fire double from Gabriel Martinelli, who scored twice in three first half minutes in a performance that Emery described as “amazing”.
The 18-year-old striker, who bagged a brace against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, opened the scoring on 13 minutes, meeting a Kieran Tierney cross with a rapier pin-point header into the top right hand corner of the net.
Martnelli’s second goal on the night quickly followed the first as he neatly controlled the ball in the penalty area before drilling the ball past Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the visitors’ goal.
The Samba starlet was playing fourth division Brazilian football last season, but he has more than made his mark with two goals in each of his two first team starts for the Gunners.
Reflecting on the start his £6million summer signing has made, Emery said: “Martinelli has a hunger, which I noticed in pre-season training, but I told him to be calm, his chance will come. He can play in various positions, but with his pace, maybe striker isn’t even his best position.”
Willock, 20, made amends for an easier miss by scoring from close range to put the home side 3-0 up within 22 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Emery had made 10 changes from Monday night’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League, with only gritty Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira keeping his place in the side.
There was a youthful look to the Gunners front three, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 22, and Reiss Nelson, 19, flanking Martinelli up front.
But again there was no place in the match squad for Mesut Ozil, who has only managed a total of 140 minutes of football in two first team matches out of 10 so far this season. Emery said he left Ozil out of his squad because “other players deserved their places more”.
The Spaniard added: “I have to pick the best players for each match. Ozil needs to continue working. Tomorrow (Friday) we have training with the players who didn’t play, and on Sunday we have another match, and we are going to decide the same.”
Hector Bellerin was given the captain’s armband, as he made his first start after spending the last nine months out following a knee injury.
With the game clearly won at 3-0 it was damage limitation for Liege in the second half. But they couldn’t stop Ceballos opening his Arsenal goal-account with a fourth on the night just before the hour mark when he followed the ball into the net after Martinelli had coolly lobbed the keeper.
ARSENAL: Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Ceballos, Torreira, Willock (Guendouzi, 74); Maitland-Niles (Pepe, 66), Martinelli, Nelson (Aubameyang 79)
Substitutes not used: Leno, Chambers, Kolasinac, Xhaka
STANDARD LIEGE: Milinkovc-Savic; Vojvoda, Vanheusden, Laifis, Gavory; Mpoku, Bastien, Cimirot, Boljevic (Carcela-González, 58), Lestienne (Amallah, 80), Emond (Avenatti Dovillabichus, 73)
Substitutes not used: Goreux, Lavalee, Bodart, Fai