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Mikel Arteta praised the mentality of Gabriel Martinelli for putting his penalty miss against Sporting CP behind him with his display in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Martinelli’s saved spot-kick proved decisive in Arsenal’s Europa League last-16 shoot-out defeat to Sporting on Thursday, with Nuno Santos stepping up to eliminate Arteta’s men.
The Brazil international was named in Arsenal’s starting line-up to face Palace on Sunday and opened the scoring in a routine victory as the Gunners returned to winning ways.
Arteta revealed after the game that he deliberated over whether to include Martinelli from the beginning, but his decision to do so more than paid off.
“The reaction he had after missing the penalty… There’s always the question,” Arteta told BBC Sport. “But I asked him how he was and he said he wants to be in the team.”
Martinelli is Arsenal’s leading goalscorer in the Premier League this season with 13 goals, including six in his past six top-flight appearances.
That is the most goals a player has scored in a single campaign for Arsenal while aged 21 or under since Nicolas Anelka’s 17 in the 1998-99 campaign.
Reflecting on how he put the disappointment of missing a penalty behind him, Martinelli said: “It is life. Not every game you are going to score and play well.
“Of course I was sad and spent the whole night thinking about that penalty, but it is over. I scored a goal today and we got the three points, which is the most important thing.”
Bukayo Saka assisted Martinelli’s brilliantly taken opener and scored two goals of his own, either side of Granit Xhaka’s strike, as Arsenal made it six league wins in a row.
England international Saka is the only player in the Premier League this season with double figures for both goals (12) and assists (10), but he was upset not to get a hat-trick.
“He was disappointed,” Arteta said. “That is what we need. We need our front players firing and making the difference and today they did that again.
“The desire and the energy that we put in right from the beginning impressed me most. We were really determined and focused and left Thursday in the past.
“After playing 120 minutes, they have to come back here and do it again against a team with a lot of needs.”
Arsenal have now won 22 Premier League games this season, which is as many as they managed across the whole of last season and their most ever after 28 games.
Arteta’s side are eight points clear of Manchester City, who have a game in hand, heading into the final international break of the season.
“It feels very good, especially with the way we have played and the results we have picked up,” Arteta said of his side’s points advantage on City, who they still have to play.
“Now we must stop and make sure everyone comes back from the internationals with the same mindset. We have Leeds next and we put the focus there.”
Palace, who sacked Patrick Vieira earlier this week, are one of two sides yet to win a match in England’s top four tiers in 2023 along with League One’s Forest Green Rovers.
Jeffrey Schlupp did manage to pull a goal back for Palace at 3-0 when taking advantage of some sloppy defending, which meant Arteta was not entirely pleased with his side.
“I am not happy with that,” he said. “Again, it is from a set-piece. We need to improve on that.”
With their victory against Palace, Arsenal are the first side in English Football League history to win as many as nine London derbies in a single league season.