After Bernd Leno’s sustained an injury against Brighton because of Neal Maupay’s sly push, Emi Martinez was thrust into action for the rest of the 2019-20 campaign.
The Argentine took his chance with both (safe) hands, and played a big part in our FA Cup success. The quality he demonstrated was, perhaps, a surprise to some people, but the 27 year old always had faith in his own ability, declaring more than once his desire to be number 1 at the club.
Whereas the German had previously been seen as the undisputed first choice, there was now real competition, with fans divided – in a nice way – about who should start the new season in goal.
Having quality options for a position one of the best issues you can have in football, and when it was put to Mikel Arteta that he might find it hard to keep them both happy this season, he made it clear he was relishing the competition Leno and Martinez have ahead of them.
“I don’t want to keep them both happy, I want the one that is not playing to be upset,” he said.
“But upset and then challenge the next player to make him better, or if not, earn his place to do that. It’s not easy to do that.
“I personally don’t see any difference with goalkeepers to full backs. They know that, I’ve been really clear with them and hopefully they can make each other better and hopefully the team better.”
Leno was one of the team’s most consistent performers last season, is now fully recovered from the injury he picked up against Brighton, which will make the challenge between himself and Emi even more interesting.
“Bernd is fit,” continued Arteta. “He was almost fit for the last game against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
“We didn’t want to take the risk even to get him involved in the squad but he’s been training throughout the summer and he is in perfect condition now.”