Emiliano Martinez has performed excellently in Bernd Leno’s stead. The Arsenal goalkeeper now has one thing left to prove. Can he be consistent?
Emiliano Martinez arrived at Arsenal in 2009. No player in the current squad has been at the club as long as the goalkeeper. However, despite spending more than a decade with the team, enduring seven loan spells in the lower reaches of English football and across the continent, he has never been a starting player. Until now.
Martinez has waited a long time for his chance to impress as the starter at the Emirates. And now that he has it, thanks to Bernd Leno’s season-ending injury suffered against Brighton, he is wasting no time in proving just how brilliant he can be.
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Martinez has now made four starts since Leno’s injury. He has conceded just once when Rob Holding was caught under a long throw and Sead Kolasinac kicked the ball into his back. He has shown brilliant command of his area, composure and confidence under pressure, as well as looking substantially more comfortable than Leno with the ball at his feet, playing more accurate passes into the middle third of the pitch.
He has also conducted the more traditional aspects of the position well, too. His shot-stopping is solid and secure, he palms shots clear of the danger zone, and he is fully concentrated. His best save of the four games he has played thus far came in the opening seconds against Wolves, immediately repelling Adama Traore’s one-on-one as the rest of his defenders were not focused from the kick-off.
In fact, Martinez has hardly put a foot wrong since coming into the team. If his form continues in this manner, questions should be asked of whether he can push Leno for the long-term starting role. In his post-match press conference following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Wolves, Mikel Arteta praised Martinez’s attitude and performance, while also laying down the challenge to show one more quality:
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“That’s what he’s been trying to do for a long period now at the club. As I said before, his preparation and his attitude has always been spot on. He’s been very respectful and very patient and now that he has the opportunity, he is grabbing it. But at this level it’s not about two, three, eight or 10 games. It’s about the consistency over a lot of games and that’s what he needs to prove now.”
As Arteta rightly highlights, at the goalkeeper position, consistency is king. As David de Gea is experiencing this season, high-level play is important but it is far more impactful for a goalkeeper to consistently perform and be a reliable, dependable commodity. Martinez is four games into his Arsenal career. He has not yet proven that he can be such.
As he looks to challenge Leno and establish himself as a genuine long-term option at the position, Martinez, then, has just one more thing to prove: Can he be consistent? And thus far, there is very little to suggest that he can’t be.