The 19-year-old has made a solid start to his Arsenal career, bagging 10 goals and providing five assists in just 37 appearances since signing from boyhood club Ituano back in 2019.
However, Arteta has favoured the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe over the versatile attacker in recent weeks, with the teenager’s last league start coming in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United on January 30.
In Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last time out, Arteta reverted back to playing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out wide, a tactic he hadn’t used for several games, and Watts believes the Gabon international’s disappointing performance showed it’s time for Martinelli to be brought back into the fold.
He said: “I think the time is right now for Gabby to get a bit of a go. I think he’s deserved it, he’s sat on the bench, he’s not kicked up a fuss, you haven’t heard him moaning, you haven’t seen his agent plant in stories about how disappointed he is at his lack of game time.
“But I think we’ve got to give Gabriel Martinelli a bit of an opportunity over the coming weeks now, certainly if you’re going to be playing Aubameyang on the left-hand side, which just I don’t understand.”
TIF Thoughts on Martinelli…
Injuries have not helped the South American’s case for being a regular starter at the Emirates Stadium in the past, but it’s been months since his last fitness issue, and it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t been given a chance of late.
Arteta has shown that he is willing to give Arsenal’s young stars a chance by rewarding the likes of Bukayo Saka and Smith Rowe with regular game time, so Martinelli can justifiably be bemused at his lack of opportunities.
There’s still a lot to play for in the remainder of the campaign as Arsenal attempt to return to Champions League football, and perhaps Arteta will turn to his £19.8m-rated youngster in the coming weeks.