Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal fans he is not going to bow to demands for Gabriel Martinelli to see more game time despite his side's dismal form.
The Gunners sit 10th in the Premier League after a run of one win in their last four top-flight games, while their Europa League hopes suffered a huge blow as they drew 1-1 with Slavia Prague on Thursday.
Arsenal have been especially disappointing on the front foot in recent weeks but 19-year-old prospect Martinelli has had to settle for cameo appearances off the bench.
The Brazilian - who scored 10 goals in the 2019/20 season - last started a match in January and there has been growing clamour for Arteta to involve him more.
This was put to the Gunners boss in his press conference ahead of the trip to Sheffield United on Sunday, and he responded: "That I understand.
"When the team is not winning enough football matches, we always look for someone else to do it.
"I respect that, and Gabi is doing really well. He is doing better every day, he is getting the right development.
"We have to be a little bit patient with him but he has a bright future at the club and he will have all the opportunities that he needs to show how good he is and the career he can have with us."
Arteta also said he cannot risk naming too many young players in his starting line-up as he explained Martinelli's recent omissions.
The Spaniard added: "We cannot put six or seven young kids out there. We need some cohesion, we need the timing.
"Gabi has a lot of things to improve. He has got big qualities as well, and we have other players in those positions.
"Then we have to create links within the team and balance within the team. This will come."
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