Arsenal took control of their Europa League group thanks to a 4-0 win over Standard Liege on Thursday night.
Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos were both on the scoresheet at the Emirates, but the headlines were dominated by Gabriel Martinelli – who grabbed the other two goals.
The 18-year-old Brazilian forward was starting just his second game of the season for the Gunners, having also scored twice on his full debut against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
Including a six-minute cameo in the Premier League, Martinelli averages a goal every 46.5 minutes, an impressive return even if you consider the slightly lesser opponents.
Gabriel Martinelli's game by numbers vs. Standard Liege:
10 total duels
5 chances created
One sublime performance from the 18-year old. pic.twitter.com/4D09JIBNyQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 3, 2019
Although he is still some way from usurping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette as Arsenal’s main strikers, Martinelli is already proving to be one for the future.
The teenager, who signed over the summer, is also fulfilling a theory laid down in September 2015 by then-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Speaking after another disappointing transfer window for Arsenal fans which saw them fail to sign a top striker, Wenger bemoaned the lack of quality forwards coming from European countries.
“It was one of the debates we had at the European managers meeting during the break,” he said in September 2015.
“The strikers are South American today. Europe doesn’t produce strikers any more.”
At that time, the likes of Germany and Spain had been making success out of deploying attacking midfielders in false No.9 roles. Since those words from Wenger, Manchester City have seen success in the signing of Brazilian Gabriel Jesus, while Lautaro Martinez of Argentina has emerged at Inter Milan amongst other examples across Europe.
And Arsenal’s own Martinelli has already written his name into the history books at the club, becoming the youngest player ever to score two or more goals for the Gunners in a major European fixture at 18 years and 107 days.
The record was previously held by Theo Walcott, who score two goals against in a 7-0 thrashing of Slavia Prague in October 2007, aged 18 years and 221 days. Cesc Fabregas also scored two in that win at 20 years and 172 days old, young enough to see him third now on the list.
Modern household names such as Carlos Vela, Jack Wilshere, Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner also feature as some of the youngest Arsenal players to score two or more goals in Europe, with the latter grabbing a hat-trick against Porto.
The other name on the list is a hark back to Arsenal’s Uefa Cup days in 1978. A straight knockout tournament at the time, Arsenal were drawn against VFB Leipzig, winning 7-1 on aggregate. The hero of that tie was Frank Stapleton who scored a brace in the first leg, aged 22 years and 65 days – before grabbing another two in the second leg as well as an own goal.
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