Arsenal will say goodbye to the old and hello to the future when they face Everton at home on Sunday afternoon to finish the 2021/22 Premier League season.
Following the unveiling of next season’s home kit on Thursday, it was announced that the Gunners would be wearing it for the first time when Everton visit the Emirates Stadium in a game that is crucial for the hosts, as they still have a narrow chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
“Our new adidas home kit will be worn on the pitch for the first time in our final game of the season on Sunday, May 22, against Everton,” the club said in a statement on its official website, with £5 from every new home shirt purchased directly from the club going to The Arsenal Foundation to support local community initiatives.
While a new outfit will be on display this weekend in North London, shirt numbers will remain the same. The big news is that Gabriel Martinelli has been promoted to the number 11 position for next season, which has been vacant since the end of last season due to Lucas Torreira’s absence from Mikel Arteta’s plans for the past two seasons.
However, the Brazilian is still carrying the number 35. If he is selected to play against Everton, he will wear what is technically his old squad number on the back of his new Arsenal shirt, as per Premier League rules, which specify that “a Player will keep his shirt number throughout the Season for which it was allocated.”
As Martinelli began the 2021/22 season wearing number 35, he must finish the season wearing number 35, which means his first official game as Arsenal’s number 11 will not be until August 2022/23.
This season, though, there has been an exception to the rule. When Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United last summer, league officials granted a special permission to allow Edinson Cavani to relinquish the number 7 shirt so that the Portuguese superstar could continue to wear it.
Given that it is the final game of the season and Martinelli’s shirt number against the Toffees isn’t an urgent issue, the Gunners are unlikely to follow Ronaldo’s lead and secure a special dispensation from the league for the Brazilian to change jerseys.
Arsenal is no stranger to revealing fresh squad numbers before the end of the season. Bukayo Saka was given the no.7 shirt after signing a new contract during the 2019/20 season, which was postponed due to the pandemic. However, he ended the season with the number 77, and Martinelli is expected to do the same on Sunday.