Arsenal’s youngest, brightest star Bukayo Saka is clearly brimming with confidence, while Gabriel Martinelli aims to bounce back from the penalty shootout.
Arsenal are preparing for what could be a crucial matchweek in the race for the Premier League title as they welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates.
The Gunners know a win against the Eagles would put them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, with Manchester City not back in league action until April 1 when they face Liverpool at the Etihad. However, there are fears Arsenal could be nursing a Europa League hangover following their elimination from the competition on Thursday night.
Mikel Arteta’s side were beaten on penalties by Portuguese giants Sporting at home, with the in-form Gabriel Martinelli the unlucky yet guilty party to see his spot-kick saved.
With that in mind, Mirror football have rounded up the latest Arsenal headlines amid their title ambitions.
Saka’s title quip
Bukayo Saka has a surprise admirer in Kim Kardashian’s son Saint, who was in attendance at Thursday night’s disappointing defeat.
While the young Gunner was unable to meet them after the Sporting game, the England international reached out via Facetime in an attempt to make up for it.
“Sorry I missed you yesterday,” Saka explained to seven-year-old Saint. “They said you were in the player’s lounge, I had a jersey for you.”
Another child in attendance cheekily told the 21-year-old “We’ll come back if you win the Premier League”, to which Saka chuckled before replying: “When (not if) when.”
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The sight of Gabriel Martinelli slumped after missing his penalty on Thursday was unfortunate, but some may be surprised he was able to do it at all.
The Brazilian struggled desperately for minutes in the early stages of Arteta’s reign as boss due to a mix of injuries and just falling down the pecking order. It led fans and pundits alike to wonder whether Martinelli had a future at the Emirates while the Spaniard was at the helm.
“If anything, it’s my fault,” Arteta admitted in March 2021 when asked about Martinelli’s lack of minutes. “He’s done everything perfectly, he trains incredibly well every day, his attitude couldn’t be better.
“Obviously he is disappointed that he is not playing anymore and I have spoken to him, but he has to be a bit patient.
Fast forward to today and Martinelli is now Arsenal’s leading Premier League scorer so far this term and is one of the first names on the squad list, proving Arteta’s decision to ease him back into the fold correct.
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Arsenal’s wage bill improvement
The amount of money in football is already eye-watering and looks set to increase, but the Gunners have managed to get their finances under control to drive down their wage bill.
Mesut Ozil’s £350,000-a-week wages feel like a distant memory today, with Arsenal seriously improving the way they balance the books.
Research shows that Arsenal only have the sixth highest wage bill at just under £98 million a year.
The Gunners have managed to move on, not just Ozil, but a number of high-earning players in recent years, and in return they are now reaping the benefits of Arteta’s side in pole position to lift the Premier League title this term.