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Gary Neville’s verdict of Arsenal contradicts Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s demand from the touchline.
The Red Devils could not keep pace with title rivals Manchester City as they succumbed to a cagey 0-0 draw against the Gunners.
The emptiness of the Emirates Stadium allowed the Red Devils boss' instructions to Marcus Rashford to be overheard.
Yelling from the sidelines, the Norwegian demanded that the No.10 takes on Cedric Soares as he “cannot defend”.
But Neville, who won eight Premier League titles and a treble at Old Trafford, picked up on something that the United boss missed.
Speaking on Sky Sports commentary at the Emirates Stadium about Gabriel Martinelli, the pundit said: “He's been noticeable for how much he's attended to his defensive duties.
“He's been doubling up with Cedric – and he needs his wide player.”
The Brazilian forward was making his first league start for Arsenal since December’s 1-0 win over Brighton, having also played 60 minutes in the FA Cup loss to Southampton.
Martinelli completed recovery from a knee injury that picked up in June last month, seeing the forward miss 30 games – and was given 45 minutes against United, replaced by Willian at half time.
But one moment from the first half showed that the 19-year-old worked hard on the defensive part of his game to contradict Solskjaer.
Rashford had a chance on 28 minutes, having found space on the right side of the penalty box to receive Paul Pogba's cross.
Lining up to take a shot at Bernd Leno's goal, the Brazilian came sprinting in to head the ball away from the United No.10's grasp.
Martinelli came into the starting XI to replace Bukayo Saka, who was out of the squad “as a precaution due to a sore hip” picked up in the 3-1 win over Southampton this week.
While Soares was making his fourth consecutive start at left back, stepping in for Kieran Tierney amid his struggles with a knee injury.
It comes as a starting XI decision by Solskjaer led Neville to make a big prediction for the rest of the season.
- Gary Neville
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
- Arsenal FC
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