Arsenal summer signing Marquinhos began the season in the u21s, but Nicolas Pepe’s departure on loan has given the winger an opportunity to step up as a first-team alternative to Bukayo Saka.
Making his first start against FC Zurich on Thursday, Marquinhos was fantastic.
With a goal and an assist in Arsenal’s 2-1 win, he made the difference between the two sides, and his individual stats reflected a very positive display.
The Brazilian teenager created four chances, including two big chances, and he completed 86% of his passes. He scored from one of just two shots, and he made a couple of interceptions as he worked hard to get back and help the team.
The quality of Marquinhos’ final ball was excellent, whether it was the chance he put on a plate for Gabriel Martinelli in the early minutes, his first-time finish to open the scoring, or his cross to Eddie Nketiah for the second goal.
Marquinhos also made intelligent decisions despite his young age, rarely taking unnecessary risks or ignoring good options to keep a move going.
Those are qualities we’ve seen already throughout Marquinhos’ youth appearances. Scoring three goals and assisting one in three u21 games, the winger was a consistent threat and showed a lot of maturity in his link-up play.
On the other side of things, the main area for improvement for Marquinhos appears to be taking defenders on.
The 19-year-old has shown plenty of attacking quality in his four appearances, but he’s mostly done so with crosses, short passes, and clever movement – as well as his finishing.
By contrast, we haven’t seen him take on his man nearly as often. He’s clearly capable of it, as we saw when he won a good free-kick on Thursday night after pushing the ball down the line, but it’s a rarity in his game.
It isn’t holding him back much at the moment, but if he can add that variety to his performances on a consistent basis he’ll really start to push Saka for a first-team place.
Not every winger has to be a speedy, skilful dribbler, it just doesn’t hurt to have that side to your game. Marquinhos is young enough to work on it.
As for the rest of his display, it was exactly what he and head coach Mikel Arteta would have wanted. Arsenal fans will already be looking forward to potentially seeing the teenager in action again next Thursday against PSV Eindhoven.