'The case for Arsenal starting places for Martinelli and Tierney'

Manchester United's Alex Telles (left) and Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli battle for the ball during t

Manchester United's Alex Telles (left) and Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli battle for the ball - Credit: PA

Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Thursday night raised an interesting conundrum for Mikel Arteta: does he select players to win immediately or continue to develop youth for the future? 

The answer is inevitably a little of both, but Arteta needs to re-evaluate what the best route forward for the team is.  

The most striking situation in the Arsenal squad at the moment is Gabriel Martinelli.

The Brazilian got himself on the scoresheet as a second-half substitute against Newcastle before registering an assist in an impressive individual display at Old Trafford. 

In contrast, the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard have done little in recent weeks to justify a starting spot over the Brazilian.

It feels like Martinelli is knocking on the door and he has a strong case for a starting birth at the minute. 

Further back in the team, the faith in youth is perhaps detrimental for Arsenal. Kieran Tierney has been rooted to the bench for the past six matches in favour of Nuno Tavares.   

Arsenal's Ben White (left) and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo battle for the ball during the

Arsenal's Ben White (left) and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo battle for the ball - Credit: PA

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Initially missing out with an ankle injury, Tierney has not had a sniff since his return to fitness, despite an error-strewn performance from Tavares against Liverpool.  

On Thursday night, as Arsenal pressed for an equaliser, Tierney watched on as Tavares struggled to deliver quality balls into the box. It was a situation where the Scotsman felt like the far more suitable option. 

The trickiest area for Arteta to re-evaluate is the midfield. Granit Xhaka has been absent through injury since Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Tottenham in September, but his recent return to first-team training is a big boost for Gunners.  

In Xhaka’s absence, the other midfield options have struggled to cement themselves as the go-to option for Arteta and given the lack of control in that department at times, Xhaka would be an obvious improvement to the team. 

The debate then comes with whether to play the out of form Thomas Partey or the raw Albert Sambi Lokonga alongside Xhaka.  

With Arsenal in limbo at the moment, Arteta needs to figure out the way forward. 

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