Arsenal’s Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli has emerged as the surprise winner of the PFA Vertu Motors Premier League Fans’ Player of the Month award for December.
The 20-year-old really hit his stride during the final month of 2021 having initially struggled to break into Mikel Arteta’s plans this season.
After scoring in Arsenal’s last Premier League match in November, Martinelli did not look back – starting and starring as the Gunners enjoyed a run of four consecutive victories to see out the year.
The versatile forward provided an assist against both Manchester United and Southampton before rediscovering his goalscoring touch, scoring three goals in two games in the process.
The first was the winner in a crucial victory over Arsenal’s top four rivals West Ham at the Emirates Stadium. Martinelli made an excellent darting run to latch onto Alexandre Lacazette’s through ball before bearing down on goal and placing a Thierry Henry-esque finish into the bottom corner.
The Brazil youth international followed that up with a brace in a man of the match display against Leeds, slamming a loose ball into the roof of the net before making another fine run and keeping his cool to dink the stranded goalkeeper.
Back-to-back victories over the Southampton, West Ham, Leeds and Norwich mean Arteta’s men find themselves in pole position for a top four finish – something few would have predicted at the start of the season – and Martinelli played a huge part.
Despite some stiff competition from the likes of James Maddison, Son Heung-min and his Arsenal teammate Martin Odegaard, Martinelli took just shy of a quarter of the votes (24.25%) for the December award.
His closest challenger was Leicester’s Maddison – another player who returned to form in December – with 16.9%.
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