Freddie Ljungberg has said that Gabriel Martinelli is “like a Duracell battery” after the young forward helped to haul Arsenal to victory against West Ham on Monday.
The Gunners arrived at London Stadium on the back of nine games without a win in all competitions. In horrible form and low on confidence, they conceded a header from Angelo Ogbonna after 38 minutes.
Martinelli helped to inspire a second-half comeback, however, after sprinting onto a neat ball from Sead Kolasinac and slotting low into the back of the net. That was followed by goals from Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, all within the space of nine minutes, which saw Arsenal run out 3-1 winners.
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Asked to assess the match after the final whistle, Ljungberg – who was appointed as interim head coach in light of Unai Emery’s sacking late last month – told BBC Sport: “The players have belief and tried to move the ball with more tempo. West Ham got tired. The players ran their socks off and fought. I believe in them.
“When I could see them put their shift in, I could see the quality. I thought: ‘It is here for the taking’.
“Martinelli did amazingly. He is like a Duracell battery, he keeps going.”
Ljungberg went with Martinelli ahead of Alexandre Lacazette, a decision which raised a few eyebrows given that Martinelli, 18, was making his first start in the Premier League. “Laca is a tremendous player but I had to make a tough decision,” said the Swede.
“We have a lot to work on,” he went on. “A lot of things to fix. [The team] have been under a lot of pressure but they had the mental strength to win.
“I tried to keep calm and see what was happening on the pitch. They sorted it out themselves.
“It is amazing what they did today. I just want to enjoy the day and then get to work tomorrow.”
From his three games in charge, Ljungberg now has one draw, one defeat and one win. Asked what it meant to get his first victory in his post-match interview, he added: “It’s a great feeling and it’s a lot better to win than to lose. We shouldn’t get carried away.”
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