Martinelli stars in debut as Arsenal open US tour with win over Rapids - GulfToday

Martinelli stars in debut as Arsenal open US tour with win over Rapids

Gabriel-Martinelli

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli (right) and Colorado Rapids’ Sam Raben in action during their international friendly match on Monday. Agence France-Presse

Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli scored in his Arsenal debut on Monday as the English Premier League club launched their pre-season tour of the US with a 3-0 friendly win over the Colorado Rapids.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka also scored for the Gunners, who cruised to the victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver.

Martinelli, the 18-year-old forward signed from Ituano on July 2, was given a surprise start in attack by Unai Emery and sent an early chance wide.

Saka, 17, was an energetic presence and put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 13th minute as he collected a through-ball from Eddie Nketiah.

Another teenager -- 18-year-old Olayinka -- doubled the score in the 29th, seizing a stray pass from defence and racing in to fire into the top left corner of the net.

Martinelli, having missed his early chance, capped the scoring in the 61st when he slotted home a cross from close range.

The Rapids, in the midst of the Major League Soccer season, fielded a mostly reserve side that featured several players from the lower-rung Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Arsenal, too, started a reserve team as they begin their build up to the Premier League season after again failing to secure a Champions League berth.

The tour hasn’t started without controversy. Captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel to the US, and a group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organisations published a statement on Monday hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership”.

Under a hashtag “WeCareDo You” the statement decried a “soulless” atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Kroenke, who began investing in the club in 2007 through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises and took full ownership in 2018, also owns the Rapids as well as the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

Meanwhile, Emery said he is awaiting a decision on Laurent Koscielny after the captain refused to travel with the squad for their pre-season tour to the US but added the Premier League club must “keep moving ahead” regardless.

The 33-year-old French centre back, who has a year left on his contract, has been linked by the British media with a switch to Ligue 1 clubs Girondins Bordeaux and Olympique Lyonnais.

“I spoke with him three times for his situation. We wanted him to come with us but he decided to stay,” Emery told a news conference after Arsenal defeated Colorado Rapids 3-0.

“For me now, it’s clear. We need to keep moving ahead. We’re playing with the spirit to create a new way.”

Emery said Koscielny, who joined Arsenal from French side Lorient in 2010 and has made over 350 appearances, was still an “important player”.

“Now it’s a matter for him and the club,” the manager said. “They need to speak and are speaking about his situation ... I’m waiting on his conversation and decision ... I can’t say more than that.”

Arsenal take on Bayern Munich on Wednesday, before matches against Fiorentina and Real Madrid as part of the International Champions Cup.

Emery’s side, who finished fifth in the league last season, kick off their new campaign at Newcastle United on Aug. 11.

Agencies