Mikel Arteta says Emi Martinez’s performances since he took over from Bernd Leno are proof the Argentine has what it takes to play regular Premier League football.
When the 27-year-old was thrust into action against Brighton, few people knew what to expect. After a decade at the club, the keeper had only a handful of first team appearances to his name and hadn’t featured in the league since 2017. By and large, he’s been exemplary.
He’s been commanding in the box, decisive with his sweeping up, swift and accurate in his distribution and and he’s enjoyed impressive ‘stickability’* in his handling. So far, Arteta likes what he sees.
“In terms of Emi’s character and his goalkeeping ability, I didn’t have any question marks,” said the boss ahead of Wednesday’s game with Liverpool.
“The way he trains every day, behaves and has been behaving since he’s been at the club is phenomenal.
“He was a question mark over how he was going to do because he didn’t have any Premier League experience and how he can deal with that game after game, and he’s shown that he’s more than ready to do it.
“He’s earned his place now, he’s doing really well and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.
“In key moments he’s been really helpful and he needs to continue to do that.
“It’s a marathon, a long run, and a football club like this demands that every day you’re at that level. That’s why he needs to keep going.”
Arsenal confirmed today that they still expect Bernd Leno to return to full training before the end of the season. Given our final league game of the campaign will be a week on Sunday, that suggests he’ll be back in training in the next week or so.
If we happen to beat Manchester City to make the FA Cup final, Arteta may have a dilemma on his hands when it comes to picking who starts between the sticks.
*credit to @stilberto