WELL, IT WAS JUST ONE SHAKY PERFORMANCE, BUT OMG LENO! by Funsho
Most of the Gunners’ players on the pitch on Saturday were off colour, but when Leno came to collect that 2nd half header, there were so many players in his box, so it was probably not as easy a catch as it looked to those of us watching on T.V. He initially got his hands on the ball, but then dropped it and lost control as West Ham continued their attack.
Talk of a heart-in-mouth Kepa Arrizabalaga moment, eh? If not for blocks here and there, ‘the Arsenal’ would have conceded from that passage of play. The Hammers will lead 2-1, and we’ll have to chase the game… Well, it was just one shaky performance, right? Wonder what your blood pressure reads, every time a cross went into Arsenal’s box and you sensed the keeper could be in two minds (as he always tends to be) on whether to catch or punch it. Sighs! And for that performance, 5/10 as assigned in Admin Martin’s rating for our numero uno goalkeeper seems fair, doesn’t it? Well, it’s just one shaky performance!
To be candid, this is not a time for blame-shifting. So, no need to say ‘I told you so’ here cos we need to support our number 1 goalkeeper now that Emiliano Martinez has been sold (hope that money will be re-invested in new signings soon), but Bernd has to fix up big time. He may not get away with such a mistake (as described above) against a better side like Liverpool next week. And by the way, selling Emi made sense, not only business-wise, but you don’t want to have a disillusioned player in your dressing room after he’s made his expectations about getting more playing time crystal clear.
Add to that, you can infer from the manager’s pre-match press briefing that MA didn’t want to give Martinez a blank cheque that says: ‘you’ll get more playing time in the league/the cups’, as he wants all players to compete for a starting spot without him having an obligation to play someone who’s undeserving of playing, or who may not suit his winning formula for a match. Senor Mikel– what a highly cerebral football animal! Arsenal’s need for money in the transfer window is another reason why selling Emiliano was a no-brainer. And now that all our eggs are in the Bernd Leno basket (well, it’s just one shaky performance!), the onus is on him to improve as we say: FAREWELL & ALL THE BEST FOR THE FUTURE EMI-a true gooner indeed.
Well, it’s just one shaky performance; some might say, “come off it! your logic is not logical cos you’re trying to crucify Leno for one mistake that didn’t prove fatal in the end”. Really? Isn’t it better to guard against another Loris Karius 2018 champions league final moment in the future by operating on Leno’s achilles heel (i.e. claiming crosses, decision making and calmness under pressure) ASAP? Look, if you think this writer is just taking a cheap shot at Arsenal’s 2nd best player of the 19/20 season cos of one average performance, please read these excerpts from a previous article on JA posted a week or so ago:
“As a side note, MA, Inaki Cana and others will do well to coach the errors out of Leno and calmness into him cos ‘dude is like a keg of gunpowder.’ Excellent shot stopper, but like Mustafi, a mistake waiting to happen. You can tell Emi is a talker and a calming influence behind the defenders.” So, my opinion on Leno’s shortcomings is steady.
In addition, the time may also be right for gooners to pipe down on the “best goalkeeper in the EPL” sticker they’ve pasted on Bernd Leno. He is an EXCELLENT SHOT STOPPER (will likely save 7/8 of 10 shots he faces), but only good/very good in other aspects except for area and/or aerial command, where he’s average at best. He will need support and not social media abuse, and in order to prevent the likelihood of him suffering the same online fate as Mustafi and Xhaka, expectations on how good he really is must be toned down. He saved this team a lot under Emery (cos he was facing 31 shots versus Watford, and that’s his area of strength) but he’ll likely make more mistakes in the nearest future, and if your expectation of him is realistic, you’ll have no need to tweet abuse at him online. For instance, thinking Leno is in the same bracket as Ter Stegen, Neuer, Buffon, Oblak, Allison, Kahn, Dida, etc., is just self-deceit of the highest order. Even “mad Jens Lehmann” only had few moments when he went really ballistic cos mistakes were not common place with him. Leno, on the other hand, is not as steady, but appears to have a lot of self-doubt and indecision about some aspects of his game, where he may be lacking a little something–not ability, just the know-how and consistency of execution. Well, it’s just one shaky performance, isn’t it?
Ultimately, get to work Mikel! Get to work Inaki! And what’s the name of that set piece specialist from Brentford again…ehm Georgson! Fellas, please get to work. Earn your money before this bomb explodes in our faces at the worst possible time like the Europa League quarter final (second leg) in G, EPL season run-in or any other such time when the pain will be unbearable. And to you Bernd: Keep working; a massive collection of gooners’ supporting voices will be cheering you on-hopefully. You can improve on your weaknesses, and show your true class in the Barclays Premier League knowing fully well that world class goalkeepers are made of much more than shot stopping material. You can do it bud!
Really appreciate you reading along,