Martinez may be better than Leno – as long as Arsenal win, I don’t care…

Leno Is Not Being Disrespected by Dan Smith

Some are building our game against Aston Villa as Leno vs Martinez, as it will be the first time our former keeper returns to the Emirates.

Some gooners felt it was a mistake to allow the Argentinean to leave, given how influential he was in us winning the FA Cup.

A section of our fan base take things too seriously, and now if you critique Leno in any way, it’s because you miss Martinez? It’s funny how it seems okay to highlight some players’ mistakes while others you’re not allowed to criticize?

My overall opinion was that Martinez should have started the season as our Number One, purely because he had earnt the right to lose the position. Yet when Aston Villa offered approx. 17 million, I understood why it made sense for most parties.

Arsenal had just made 55 staff redundant. At a time when they don’t know when they will be getting match day revenue, having two decent goalies gave us an asset to make money from without harming the squad.

The worst-case scenario is you don’t have a ‘cup keeper’, and apart from Dundalk it does seem that Arteta doesn’t yet fully trust Runarsson.

Martinez’s story is like a movie. When he left South America as a teenager, he looked at his parents and promised one day that he would return with a winners medal. He waited a decade to do that, winning our hearts in the process.

So with many holding sentiments to Emiliano, it was the worst time for Leno to start being complacent. I don’t write that because I have an agenda or because I wish Martinez was still here. I simply write it because in his two years in England, this is the worst Leno has looked. Not terrible, but certainly not ‘one of the best in the country’ which some try to claim.

It could be he’s not over his injury? It could be that the injury was straight after lockdown, meaning it’s been a long time for him not playing. It could be the emergence of someone else in his position unsettled him. Whatever it is, it is okay to point out if he’s not playing well. It doesn’t make you less of a fan.

If it’s acceptable to point out when Mustafi, Xhaka or Bellerin have been poor, why is Leno special?

I have heard and read some readers suggest that Leno deserves more respect. Yet is it disrespectful to question if he could have done better with the goal he conceded Thursday? Is it wrong to say his kicking was poor in Austria?

Is it not simply claiming a fact that against City and Liverpool he pushed the ball back into the middle for both teams to score?

Is It wrong to say I felt he was all over the place against West Ham and out of positions for Leicester’s winner?

Fans can’t have it both ways. Too many were quick to label the German one of the best keepers in the country, so if that’s what you believe you have to judge him to a high standard.

My opinion is Leno makes too many mistakes to be called one of the best in the Prem, and maybe would have benefitted from having Martinez around as competition would have brought out the best in both.

It doesn’t make you less of a fan if you question Leno. If you rate Martinez as being better, that is okay. Don’t let others judge you or tell you which players you can question, and which are immune from criticism.

I feel Martinez has a better presence when it comes to collecting crosses but that doesn’t mean for 90 minutes, I won’t back the man who plays for the Gunners. I’m just not going to ignore his mistakes just because some want to convince themselves we have a world class keeper when we don’t. Maybe one day but not yet.

The narrative is set on Sunday for one keeper to make a howler, while the other steals the show.

As long as Arsenal win, I don’t care.

Dan Smith

Tags Arsenal v Aston Villa Aston Villa leno Martinez


  1. MA isn’t complaining. If the manager did not like his performances or thinks he’s such a liability, then I’m sure he’d act accordingly.

    Just give it a rest pall. The constant comparison is getting nauseating. That same Leno could very well be in contention for the EPL Golden Gloves.

    1. You said it all, it’s nauseating.
      I thought we were all over this Martine/Leno BS and the constant Martinez should’ve been our number 1.
      Man legit chose to leave, asked to be sold even though he knew he was meant to start the Fulham game.
      I don’t know what sort reactionary fans we have.
      I’m meant to believe a GK Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery, didn’t rate for over 10 years as a starter is suddenly the best GK we could’ve had?
      Are we going to talk about the goals he has conceded after spilling a shot?
      Or only Leno can be judged that way.
      I haven’t seen fans crediting Leno for his playing out from the back in the last two games.
      Bottom line is I don’t even care bout this Emi/Bernd debate anymore.
      I just wanna watch Arsenal play and win, rack up the points then I’ll have to sulk for the next two weeks for some crazy useless int break that’s pointless

        1. Don’t think that response was meant for you. Just found it funny that all the comments were exactly what the article was about.

  2. Enough of Martinez wishes, I’m aware of Leno has his flaws and you are free to critique him. Maybe you should watch more Aston Villa matches and see Martinez errors too. As far as I’m concerned Our first goalie is Leno and solidly behind him to outshine Martinez today.

  3. Dan, I understand where you’re coming from but I would like to add some things to it.

    If it wasn’t for Leno and Auba last season, MA would have come into the club facing a relegation battle, of that i have no doubt.

    Leno has also proved over a period of 8-9 years he can play at this level.

    Its all about consistency.

    Now, you say Martinez deserved to be no1, no he didn’t, not after 10 league games and an FA cup final.

    What he did deserve was to be able to fight for it and prove he is better, He wussed out of that and decided to leave so he can walk into a no1 spot elsewhere.

    To me that is the type of character we can do without to be honest, we want fighters with big personality and not players that want this and that when it comes to playing time.

    I’m not saying Leno or Martinez are better than the other here. All goalkeepers make mistakes, we just havent seen many from Martinez yet because he hasn’t played that many games and also didnt play BEHIND THAT DEFENCE UNDER UE last season.

    To me he was at fault for the 2 freekicks he conceded against Southampton, the walls and and his position were wrong, but thats just coming from a former goalkeeper

    1. Well said
      I’ve always rated Leno highly but it didn’t take anything away form Martinez and how well he played ,but some fans just wait for the mistakes to then jump all over Leno ,like you said Martinez as been at fault for a few goals and as let in 7 in his last 2 matches.
      Personally I hope he as a stinker today and we put 4-5 past him ,but knowing our luck Leno will
      Let one slip through his legs and Martinez will save 30 shots on target

    2. Val, I agree with so much of your post even though I was impressed with Martinez

      He clearly felt the need to secure his future and to be a no1 and this not a given at Arsenal. I wouldn’t go as far as to blame his character for that. Self interest but in football there’s a lot of it about

      1. What I meant Sue was that he wanted to stay and be no 1, he made that clear in his interviews after the FA cup final and CS game.

        If you believe you are the best keeper at the club and that is what you want, you have to go and fight for it. So the lack of wanting to fight for the spot which he thought should be his by right after a handful of games could be a character issue imo.

        I get that he has ambitions in life like being no1 for club and country but Villa? seriously?
        If he stayed and displaced Leno then he possibly could have gone on to be a real WC goalkeeper, I cant see him doing that at Villa myself. He went for the easy path and not the challenging one

        1. I can’t argue with that Val. To me , he wanted it there and then so he had to go if Arteta wasn’t playing ball. Agree that Villa wasn’t a strong choice but hey, he’s playing regularly.
          All water under the bridge as Leno is our man

    3. I never agree with this whole relegation theory
      How do you know someone else wouldn’t have stepped up ?
      Your assuming the keeper striker you bring in are rubbish
      Remember vanpersies last season with us when his goals got us in top 4
      We lose his goals and ….finish top 4 still

      1. We were conceding 20 – 30 shots per game during UE reign, that is immense pressure on the back line a keeper.

        Leno made 113 saves prior to his injury at Brighton, the most of any top 8 team ( which is where we finished).

        With RVP’s last season and his first for UTD, we could have won the league ourselves that season if he were still leading the line for us.

        The beauty about giving opinions on what could have happened is that no one can say for definite that it would have, alas its all just theory and educated assumptions based on what we know are fact

    4. Another who i don’t believe read the article.
      Just to respond to one point – the writer of the article said he felt that Martinez deserved to START the season as number 1, and I find it hard to argue with that. He was clearly an important figure in a strong run of (high pressure) games at the end of last season. It should have been his to lose, and I don’t blame him for walking away after finding there was a decent chance he’d lose his place for no good reason. He’s had to wait so long to get a chance to prove himself and once he did, clearly, it still looked like he would be pushed aside without good reason. How would you feel in that situation?
      Honestly I thought EM would have been given a chance around the time we signed Cech – I wouldn’t have been surprised if EM was the better keeper at that time as well (obv talking about the slightly past it version of Cech we had at arsenal).
      Watching the games, I do feel we’ve made a blunder and probably would have been better off selling Leno instead (probably for more money). But anyway, it’s done – hope that for this game at least Arsenal’s keeper is fantastic and Villa’s keeper has a bad one.

      1. Well thats your opinion Davi but to suggest I didnt read the article is rubbish.

        If you want anything in life you have to fight for it.
        If MA had said to Emi ok you’re our no 1, what does that say to the rest of the squad?

        You need to prove it every training session, every game you play not just a handful of games and then make demands like that.

    5. I see your point Val, but if he still can’t start a league game ahead of Leno, after performing remarkably in 10 league games and an FA cup final, when can he? Wait for another Leno injury?

      How is he going to prove he’s better than Leno by sitting on the bench for league games? Seems like he’s reached an impasse.

      I agree with Dan that he should continue to start until his performance suggests otherwise

  4. The only reason am not angry with arteta for selling martinez is because he asked to leave,he was not ready to fight for his spot in the team but for me he is very much better than calamity leno.he has more confidence when coming out for balls,plays out from the back better without wasting much time like leno usually does&most importantly,he communicates better with the defenders.leno is always an accident waiting to happen

  5. Arsenal has conceeded 7 goals in 7 games. That is an average of 1 goal per game. Villa has conceeded 9 goals in 6 games. That is an average of 1.5 goals per game. I don’t know if Leno takes part of the credit. I know there could be better defenders but Leno definitely takes part of the credit . May be we can also analyse the oposition strikers that have scored against the two teams. Arsenal has met Leicester, Man U , Man City , Liverpool , all in the top part of the table. I don’t know how many big teams Villa has met so far ? I think holding other factors constant, results suggest that Leno is so far better.

    1. ND, Averages taken so precisely, over so few games – added to the fact that no like for like comparison is are made between the two teams opponents (andmany other relevant factors) render your average goals conceded argument as meaningless.

      To have any real meaning whatsoever, averages need to be used over a far greater period and many other relevant factors considered. Yours are simplistic in the extreme!
      That being said, I DO rate LENO and am very happy
      he is our keeper.

    2. Villa don’t have Gabriel. Defence is much better than last year Leno’s a good keeper but I don’t think it’s fair to just compare goals conceded.
      EM should have been 100% first choice at the start of the season and if he started to wobble, Leno should have taken over. EM left because the signs were he was just keeping the spot warm until Leno was fit, regardless of what he did on the pitch. Didn’t seem fair to me

  6. Not sure I understand this discussion … the defence and midfield are now in better shape .. albeit room for improvement … arteta now needs to turn his attention to attack and how he can get more out of his foreword line .. so far the laca aube combo has fired too many blanks and he needs to try something different

  7. In Dans article, what I particularly align myself with , is his assertion that NO player is beyond criticism, including no keeper. Like many others on here I was sorry to lose MARTINEZ but also understood why he left.

    He was NOT pushed out but wanted a guarantee of being first choice and no responsible manager can offer that GUARANTEE to ANY player. Plus funds were tight and we have bigger holes to fill in other team areas.

    Moving on a little, I have always rated Leno and still do. He has made some mistakes but set against the many special saves he has made ever since coming here, the balance is well in his favour.

    I do not entirely agree that some of the pushed out saves resulting in goals could have been pushed more sideways. That is of course the ideal but is not always possible and some keepers are judged too harshly by some fans, who have insufficient understanding of how lightening quick, keeper reactions are AND what they need to be.
    IMO , Leno is NOT a weaklink, not at all, in fact quite the reverse.

      1. Ad PAT do you seriously then try to deny that many of your in house writers articles lack balance AND relevance, deliberately so in most cases and are rehashes of virtually the same article already written many times? I EXCLUDE DAN SMITH FROM THAT COMMENT.

        What I call SUITABLE Pat, are articles that are relevant to now and the near or longer future and not redug up from the past.

        Like ALL the almost hourly Ozil articles that almost all of us scorn and find tedious and boring. You know it divides fan opinion, so that is why you constantly rehash the same passe subject that is now- since he has been sidelined – of no relevanc to our present and future at all But do you care? NO YOU DON’T!

        Come on here openly and tell me I am wrong in these comments, if you dare. You will be laughed at! Unless you change the sites name to JUST OZIL!

        1. Haha Jon, you are amusing.
          As you know we ARE called JustArsenal, which means we report on any Arsenal story in the media. Strangely enough Ozil is still on Arsenal s books, so any story IN THE MEDIA about Ozil WIll get discussed on JA.

          I am sorry if that doesn’t work for you, but No I am not going to stop my job. Maybe we should change our name to Just Martinez instead,?

    1. I dont think Martinez was demanding to be 1st choice indefinitely and regardless of performance, I think he rightly felt he had earned the right to start off as number 1. I read that the coaches told him he would 95% start the first game and I understand why he’d get cold feet about staying. I would have been the same – felt a bit like he would lose it eventually regardless of what he did on the pitch.

  8. Because Martinez performed flawlessly I was surprised we let him go. Once Villa offered a chance for him to be number one, it’s hard to not be able to understand what HE wanted….and now suddenly he faces us. I think he is better than Leno, but it’s Arsenal I support and not Martinez and if we stay humble, respectful, and energised we should win.
    If, though, we analyse, its hard to see how Leno was given automatic No 1 status. He does not command the penalty area that well, although he is definitely a ‘great’ shot stopper. As a whole once the team get more and more confidence so will Leno…..and he will get better. Until we get a really ball holding creative midfielder we rely on the defence, and Leno, more than we should, but if we are near to challenging in January then a quality midfield magician will end up benefitting everybody including Leno.

  9. I don’t care how good a GK is if his defenders don’t play well he will concede goals, not trying to take anything away from Martinez but he benefited from playing in a solid and compact team, Villa last 2 games proved that, against the Saints for example his teammates conceded free kicks in dangerous area and allowed their opponents to take a lot of shots and no there was nothing Martinez could do about it!

    1. Haha Sue. Christmas has come in early for them I guess. It’s only a matter of time though. And even though I detest spuds and mourinho, he has a habit of delivering anywhere he goes, no matter how poor his team are. Out of 3 seasons, he is certain to have one good season to win at least a trophy. As bad as utd were, he won them the Europa league. That was why the spuds signed him. I hope he doesn’t win any with spuds tho

  10. Strangely enough ( given the plethora of excellent performances to choose from) when I think of Bernd Leno, two specifics immediately come to mind;

    The “Double save” at Wembley against that mob down the road, and the fact that he was runner up only to Auba ( who else) last season as our POTS.

    We’re fortunate to have this top class (German National keeper in waiting) as our number 1 – after all, we could have the current England keeper !

  11. There we have it. We were thumped nice and good by Villa and you can’t deny EM’s hand in their 3rd goal. EM made the right decision to move, I dont see how else he had to prove that he was performing well to warrant earning a starting birth ahead of Leno. We wish him well

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