How should Arteta handle the Martinez v Leno situation?

Martinez Vs Leno- Who’s Your Number 1? By Dan Smith

Arteta didn’t need to hear an interview Martinez gave in Argentina to know that he’s in danger of losing his keeper. As a former player himself, our manager will understand the desire to play and hunger to maximise your career.

There’s a saying that when a team has a poor result at a weekend, it means no-one can knock on their bosses door the following Monday asking for an opportunity. Well, Emiliano’s situation is the opposite.
It’s not Leno’s fault he got injured, and let me clarify Leno has done nothing wrong to suggest he should be dropped. Yet in Sport (sometimes in life) It’s not how you get the baton, it’s what you do when you get it.

Is the baton just too hot for you to handle? Can you carry it a few yards before dropping it? Or do you do what the Argentine did, and shock everyone by how well you do at taking that baton and run with it.

The opportunity never would have existed if his teammate hadn’t got injured at Brighton. He knew that this was it, his one chance, maybe his only chance, to prove to anyone he could compete at the highest level. At the very least, this was a chance to advertise his ability to other outfits, showing them that he was better than someone constantly loaned out to random parts of the world.

It’s been suggested that Leno’s injury might be slightly more serious than first thought, meaning that at least for the start of the season, Martinez will get his wish and have even more game time at the Emirates. Yet eventually everyone will be fit, and a choice will have to be made.

In my opinion you can’t drop Martinez on current form, what message would that send to the rest of the dressing room? No different to if your third-choice striker suddenly went on a goal scoring run, you would see how long it continues; Martinez should be between the posts till he does something wrong.

Is that harsh on Leno? Ruthless even? Yeah …. but I like that and for too long the Gunners haven’t been ruthless enough. Arteta should not do what’s best for either man, but what’s best for Arsenal. Give us the best possibility of winning the next fixture. At the moment that’s taking advantage of a player’s momentum.

Leno is a professional and will understand how sport works. It’s easier to explain to Leno why he needs to bide his time, rather than telling someone playing so well why he’s back on the bench.

I’m not suggesting long term that we change who our number 1 is, I’m maybe suggesting you make it clear to both that one doesn’t exist?

Create competition, a healthy rivalry because again the team will be the one that benefits.
They say form is temporary, class is permanent. That’s the next thing for Martinez to prove. For the first time he’s got some spotlight, some buzz, the media suddenly wants interviews with him. How does he now cope with that expectation?

The hope is he will become even better if he has Leno breathing down his neck. Then when Leno plays, he will want to be better than before to earn back his spot. There are enough games where you could go back and forth between the two for the whole campaign. One starts in the League, the other the cups and then alternate.

Without sounding arrogant, we should qualify out of the Europa League group stages, so that’s at least a minimum of 8 games in Europe. Combine that with our history of a run in the domestic cups and you can promise both goalies plenty of minutes.

Long term, there will always be the pressure of cashing in on one. Especially when you don’t know when you’re getting match day revenue and when you’re sacking 55 staff. From a business point of view, those above Arteta will always look at an asset that is not being utilised, while rivals will know we have a very good keeper as a sub.

In the short term though, Arteta can say the right thing to keep both keepers happy and use competition to help the team.

Who Would Be Your Number 1. Martinez or Leno?

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

Tags Martinez v Leno


  1. Martinez has to play himself out from the job by playing bad in my opinion. But what does Leno feel about that. He was in beast mode himself before the injury. I feel that there is a real chance of one of them being sold. Not envying Arteta over this. And I do not want either of them to leave.

  2. The best performer is the number 1, thats just how it works, Arteta has nothing to learn there, thats just the way it is. Its not nothing new.

  3. No brainer for me. Martinez is the man. Leno was and hopefully still is a good keeper after this recent injury is behind him but I feel more secure at the back with Martinez, especially when it comes to aerial attacks and corners. He seems a more demanding presence.

    Perhaps Leno is superior playing out with his feet but in the other aspects, I prefer Martinez.

  4. @Reggie True, but the problem is if both keepers consider themselves to be the best. To me the difference is razor thin. And judging by Martinez comments he is not going to accept the bench.

  5. Put his trust in Martinez and make him number one.
    He is bigger and stronger than Leno and has authority in the box that Leno has never had. Leno looks like a boy amongst men when he comes out for the ball in the box.

  6. Martinez makes us quickly forget that Leno was man of the match on more than a few occasions, and while we praise Auba for the goals, if it wasn’t for the heroics of Leno in many of the games, we’d have been on the lower side of the table.
    Like someone earlier said, I feel more secure on aerial balls with Martinez in goal, and I like his long balls too.

  7. We could just sell Martinez for 45m, bring in John Hart who is free agent to be our 2nd then use the money to buy Sarr or Doucoure from Watford or anyone we want. Martinez form is a blip and let’s use advantage of his current form to cash in becoz it won’t be forever

    1. How do you know his form is a blip?
      Imagine also if leno’s injury is the start of a persistent niggle and Joe Hart has to come in for a few weeks, we’d drop points IMO

          1. Becoz his form is based on few games so let’s sell him while we have the chance. It’s more like Kepa, don’t you think he had a good form be4 Chelsea bought him, let’s too drop the grenade on another team that will want him. Leno has proven himself for a whole season but you can’t say Martinez is world-class based on 10 games, let’s sell him immediately and promote a younger keeper or find a free agent that has no problem being number two…besides it’s inevitable that we will sell one of them and it’s of course Martinez so let’s sell him while we have a reason to before his form goes down and no team will consider him then

        1. no one here is saying he is world class, people are saying about what his strengths are vs Leno and like any player, if you’re in form you should be given the chance to prove your worth.
          Leno isnt world class, they’re both very good keepers, its just Lenos weaknesses are there for all to see, Big Marti is a more well rounded keeper and has strengths that we will benefit more from

    2. Did you see the uproar on here the other week, when news broke of our ‘interest’ in Joe Hart??!! Thankfully it was all media bs!!

    3. Sell.. How do u think? I don’t understand.
      Nice article.. Martinez should be no 1.. It will be easier to explain to Leno reason being dropped + Martinez figure is so calm & mature & almost intimidating

  8. Solving football complexities is not about making people happy….

    You choose the best player for that position. Simple and straightforward.

    Martinez is by far the better keeper, so should be No. 1 regardless of Leno’s pricetag or people’s sentiments.

    1. They’re both excellent. Leno is actually the better shot-stopper, while Martinez commands his area better on crosses. They can both play the ball with their feet well enough. I think the defenders feel confident with either man behind them. AFC can’t afford to ignore a big money offer, and they ought to get one. My guess is that Leno would be worth more on the market, so he may be the one that gets sold.

    1. In sport, as in life, you have to take every chance that comes your way. Unfortunately, Leno was injured and Martinez has taken the opportunity with both hands (sorry for the pun!) and excelled. As they say, possession is nine tenths of the law and Leno has to wait his opportunity to win back the starting goal keeping position.
      In cricket many a wicket keeper has played with injured fingers and hands, rather than give his understudy a chance. As Ian Hely said you don’t give a mug an even chance.
      Leno must win back his place. Competition is good for Arsenal.

  9. Surely we have learned by now that we have to take statements by players, in second languages especially, with a grain of salt.

    I read the same transcript (translated of course) and I don’t see a crisis. In fact, I would be rather concerned if Martinez simply said that “Leno is number one and I am going back into the shadows”.

    He had a great year and thinks he deserved a chance to start. And he did and he does. Leno deserves a crack as well.

    Arteta’s challenge this year will be to manage both. We may end up selling one of the goalies but that is at least a year away.

    It is a very nice challenge to have.

    1. And besides, it will give the board another great ongoing discussion topic with diehard Leno vs. diehard Martinez fans 🙂

  10. What I most liked of all DANS sensible and wellpenned article was the line about us needing to be ruthless and putting the club well before the needs of any player. I recommend this course of action to those few and fast regressing diehards who, even now, think Ozil hard done by. Incredible though that may seem. Eh KEN?

    Some of us would go further and regard those players who are actually harming our club, ie the clubs enemy, Ozil again, , as needing to be driven out ASAP,using WHATEVER legal weapons we have.

    1. I get your point Jon but how can a post about our 2 keepers have you talking about Ozil?
      Is he involved in THIS topic? no he isn’t.
      Lets keep on topic, this isnt an Ozil post.

      1. Val You may not have noticed that many fans onhere talk about all sorts of things , -as they have aperfect right to do- on all sort of threads.

        If YOU have never done so, then well done you!

        But you have no right to try dictating what any of us write.



          ADMIN PAT COMMENT: Calm yourself Val – No personal abuse is allowed so take this as a warning

    2. The manager has dropped Ozil and it is time you did Jon.
      I am limited to watching games on TV so I don’t usually comment on the play of a player in the match but I make an exception with Martinez.
      From the start of his first league game it seemed to me that we had a goal keeper to add to the great goalies of the past.

      I start with ones you will remember Jon. Swindon, kelsey, Wilson, Jennings (thank you spuds). Then John ( I can’t remember his surname but he was our gaolie in the 1989 beating Liverpool in to 2nd place. Seaman , replaced him followed by Leaman and then Szesny now at Juventus.

      As has been said by virtually everyone here Leno has served Arsenal well but I think Martinez is not just special but very special.

      When the opposition are on the attack and getting dangerous Martinez makes the goal net shrink.

      1. The presence of Martinez in goal is a threat to the opponent, he command area ball and coordinate his box very well, his distribution is good as well combine with sharp reflex ,but let not forget that the change in team formation also helped him a lot, something Leno did not enjoy till Briton defeat when he lost his position.

      2. Snowden, I suggest you read and digest my reply to Val. It applies equally to you.
        And the keeper was John Lukic!

      3. Jon must be of an age , I am 73 saw my first game at Highbury in 1956 . I remember Kelsey but George Swindon left 2 years before that. . However for me Martinez is number one until Leno wins it back.

  11. MA should be ruthless, yes Leno played extremely well well the team wasnt performing. He was the shining light at the back and we shouldnt forget that.
    But we shouldnt forget what his shortcomings are, he is woeful at any kind of set piece, he doesnt seem to command his box and doesnt really have any kind of presence there, he is and excellent shot stopper but thats about it.
    Martinez on the other hand has a massive stature, commands his box, takes charge of set piece deliveries and is a decent shot stopper, his concentration seems spot on aswel.
    Nest season our defense looks like it will be improved massively and what ive always believed is that with keepers, they have to take their chance when it arrives, which big Marti did, it wasnt a Vito Manonne style 1 or 2 games and then flaps like a chicken trying to fly, all of his games he was assured and confident, like he was the no1 for years, that speaks volumes about his personality and i believe he should be given the chance next season as No 1, it will be his to lose

  12. Yeah. Dan, you’ve said it all. To me, football is a professional beast. It can be cruel at times & indeed most times depending on individual player’s luck in all this. All the professional players understand this fact. The two keepers being professional players certainly understand the intricases of this fact. Really, Martz had been a patient bird for a very long time. Leno should try to be too, as he recovers from the greatest form of the beast’s (football’s) many inflicted cruelties-injury. He should therefore bid his time, as he should be, left to me, gradually reintegrated into the squad until he reaches his peak. From there, it should be anybody’s game. Healthy rivalry should ensue thereon. No.1 keeper should just be a figure. But most importantly, Arteta should be fair to both guys. Alot depends on how he handles the situation. Meanwhile, as you rightly said, Arteta is key. He should keep on saying the right words now, to keep Martz for us & from the hands of those many suitors lurking in the corners. Arsenal is richly blessed with those two great guys. Hard to make a guided choice of the two, anyway. Time will tell. Weldone Dan.

  13. It isn’t rocket science, both have beastly presence in the box which solves a lot of issues for arsenal (Leno 1:93, Martinez 1:91). Martinez should continue his fine form in league games and when fit Leno gets the cup games to gain fitness. Whoever shows form starts from there simple

  14. Football can be cruel, remembering Ashley Cole got his chance when a certain sylvinho who was first choice at the time got injured Cole then seized his chance and the rest was history….. Sucks but it is what it is.

  15. Leno is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season so we play Martinez (who in my opinion is a better keeper) until he has a mare then Arteta can make the decision.

  16. The situation will take care of itself with time,Martinez will start the season as number one and if he is still performing well,Leno will be given the time he needs to fully recover and regain his form,slowly being reintroduced to the team and the same way Emi got his chance so will Leno through either a drop in performances or God forbids injury not forgetting the cups games, Europa. a chance to prove he is back to his best,that’s the life of a GK,a lonely and harsh one!

  17. Let there be a healthy rotation. Play Leno in one game, play Martinez in the next no matter the competition involved. Remember, injury and suspension is part of the game. Arteta, be warned!

  18. Having gone through everyone’s opinion, I would say i am impressed bare this guys (Mr. Tiberious (purchasing Sarr with 45mills, (would agree with you if it was meant for PARTEY) &Chinonso (playing each keeper in successive games)… Leno has been excellent for us till his injury. Most Arsenal fan would agree with me that we least trusted Big marti (as some called him) to fill leno’s vacancy but in truth he did in flying colors (took everyone by storm). Leno’s best save for me was the dual save he made against Spurs and that of Marti was the one against Liverpool denying Trent a chance to squeeze a draw for the champs..
    In my opinion i’d allow Marti to seize his opportunity while leno bid his time… Would like to see how Arteta manages this!

    1. Ismaila Sarr is a very good left wing and he is 22 and he also had good impact, check his statistics, so yeah for 40m I’d buy him. Instead of taking Coutinho on loan why not buy him and place William CAM then Auba front and Pepe right and I also remember typing that we buy any other player we want not necessarily Sarr

  19. Me l suggest that they should all be sold and let matt macey come in since he may also have fine form like that of Emi

  20. Martinez is at least as good a Leno but vitally he has safer hands… does not pat the all away. Collects it whenever possible
    No doubt Martinez must be No1

  21. I must agree Martinez has waited a long time for this chance and he has been exceptional,better than Leno on crosses and just as good at shot stopping and reflex saves, leno may just edge it on distribution but I would not blame emi if he got the hump if he were dropped as soon as Leno is back, personally I think Arteta would stick with Emi and should.

  22. I feel Martinez commands his area better than Leno .. for some reason I feel Martinez is better than Leno

  23. In the modern game of football, Arsenal needs two good keepers as no 1 for the league. The coach should know their high points and used them against the opposition. This will allow them some rest so that they will be fully prepared when call open. The two should be regarded as no 1. and each will have a fair share of game time.

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