Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match at the Emirates Stadium, London. 26 October 2021.

Watch: Arsenal’s Martinelli fights like hell to keep ball vs Liverpool

Gabriel Martinelli has enjoyed an extended run in the Arsenal first XI over recent weeks and his determination to retain possession against Liverpool underlined Mikel Arteta’s faith in him.

Martinelli has been on the receiving end of praise from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on numerous occasions.

The first time Klopp came up against Martinelli in a match, in October 2019, he described him as a “talent of the century”. A few days later, he added that the winger is “really unbelievable” and applauded Edu, Arsenal’s technical director, for plucking him from Brazil.

More recently, following Liverpool’s victory at the Emirates in January, Klopp told the media that Martinelli was an “outstanding player” and that “everybody should remember that name”.

A day later, Klopp was asked about Trent Alexander-Arnold, his right-back. In his answer, he referred to Martinelli. “Little Martinelli,” he said. “We will talk about this player in the future. If he will be without major injuries he will have a proper career.”

And the 20-year-old reinforced why he’s so highly-rated with a beautiful piece of determined scrapping in the first half of Wednesday’s Premier League match.

Martinelli’s heavy first touch looked like it’d cost him possession against the League Cup winners but he shook off the attentions of Luis Diaz, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip to keep the ball.

He managed to scramble the ball back towards Kieran Tierney and his battling qualities drew appreciative applause from the Arsenal fans at the Emirates.

Martinelli won his first call-up to the Brazil senior side last week for March’s World Cup qualifiers and Arteta singled him out for praise before Sunday’s win over Leicester.

“Gabi has shown big signs of where he’s moving, certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third and I think his contribution all round in his game has been exceptional,” Arteta said.

“So, I think he totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing.”

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