Mikel Arteta reveals Arsenal star demanded to start victory over Crystal Palace

Mikel Arteta has revealed Gabriel Martinelli asked to start Arsenal’s impressive victory over Crystal Palace just three days after his Europa League penalty heartbreak.

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Martinelli missed the decisive spot-kick as Premier League leaders Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon on Thursday night.

The Brazilian winger was named in Arsenal’s starting line-up for the visit of Palace on Sunday and produced the perfect response, putting the hosts in front midway through the first half.

It was Martinelli’s sixth goal in six league matches and Arsenal doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time through Bukayo Saka.

Granit Xhaka added a third for the Gunners before Crystal Palace – who sacked Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira on Friday – got a goal back through Jeffrey Schlupp.

But Arsenal were not to be denied a victory that sends them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of the international break and Saka scored his second of the afternoon 10 minutes to put the match to bed.

Arteta hailed Martinelli’s response to his Europa League penalty miss and says the Brazilian asked to start against Crystal Palace when the pair spoke in training.

‘The reaction he had after missing a penalty was great,’ Arteta said of Martinelli. ‘There is always the question, but I asked him yesterday how he was and he said: “I want to be in the team”.’

Arsenal’s victory takes them eight points clear of defending champions Manchester City, though Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.

Arteta was delighted by the ‘desire and energy’ his side showed against managerless Crystal Palace, adding: ‘The desire and the energy that we put in right from the beginning impressed me most. We were really determined and focused and left Thursday in the past.

‘After playing 120 minutes, they have to come back here and do it again against a team with a lot of needs.

‘Crystal Palace have not got the results lately but they have be very tough to beat. But we were dominant and deserved to win the game. Today, in the box when we had those openings, we defined the game in the right way.’

On Arsenal’s eight-point lead at the top of the table, Arteta said: ‘It feels very good, especially with the way we have played and the results we have picked up.

‘Now we must stop and make sure everyone comes back from the internationals with the same mindset. We have Leeds next and we put the focus there.’

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