Mat Ryan must start against Villarreal on Thursday

Should Ryan Play on Thursday? By Dan

In the movie Space Jam, the Monsters steal the NBA players powers and suddenly professional basketball players lose all their skill.

That’s what I’m left thinking when I watch Leno at the moment. Although in my imagination , the German’s talent has been stolen by Martinez.

I never rated our keeper as one of the best in the division, he makes too many mistakes for that. In the world of instant reaction though, some Gooners were calling him world class after a few games (like they did with Gabriel).

Some readers on JustArsenal do what the world seems to do when you have an alternative opinion. I was told I had an agenda, was picking on Leno for simply pointing out the amount of errors he makes. That in my mind makes him good but not great.

I started to notice he lacked the concentration skills to go to that next level. Arsenal like to have possession, so in some games our goalie might not have lots to do for the majority of the 90 mins but has to keep his mind prepared. Last season Spurs, Everton, Chelsea and Olympiakos all scored due to a Leno blooper.

The most concerning was his gaffe in the Europa League when all he had to do was kick the ball up the pitch and we would have been through to the next round. Instead the pressure drowned him. He inexplicably put the ball out for a corner, giving the visitors one last opportunity.

That was the moment I doubted his long-term future.

If the Gunners are to return to previous levels, then we will face far bigger occasions then a knockout tie of a UEFA secondary competition. That’s why I wouldn’t start him on Thursday.

Whether it was the injury in his last campaign, or his confidence was hurt by some wanting Martinez to stay as number one, his form has declined.

He’s made howlers in the last two rounds of the Europa as well as in the Group stages. We are not going to keep getting away with it. Is it a coincidence that he’s gone backwards without competition for his spot?

I just think Leno could benefit from being taken out of the firing line.

Matt Ryan isn’t an understudy without experience. He’s a 29-year-old who’s played 123 Prem games and has 65 caps for his country so he can be trusted.

At Brighton he may not have been trained to play out from the back as much as the modern-day keeper, but that might not be a bad thing as we don’t seem to be benefitting from that tactic.

It’s also morally right to give someone a chance if one of their peers is struggling.

Leno has just allowed a ball to squirm under his body.

In possession (meant to be his strong point) his passing has put teammates into trouble at Burnley, Vienna, home to Olympiakos and don’t get me started on what he did at Wolves.

If a striker was going through a goal drought you would expect another forward to get a chance.

It’s a big decision for Arteta to make, because it’s one that could cost us our whole season.

The irony being it could be the second year in a row we put our trust in our number 2 for the run in. When that happened 12 months ago it was the platform for Martinez to earn cult hero status in North London.


Maybe Matt Ryan can do the same?


Be Kind In The Comments


Tags Bernd Leno Mat Ryan


  1. I still think leno should play on thursday
    I havent seen ryan being tested in an arsenal team against a top side meanwhile leno had single handedly saved us from humiliations and got us points.
    He has made nistakes but every keeper does even the ones at man city and liverpoil but when it comes to important games it should be your no.1

    He is not that good with distribution or being a leader in the back but what i love about him is The guys got genuine reflexes,world class .
    MAs tactics require the ball to be played out from the back and i agree martinez was the better one in doing that solely cuz of his distribution but he is not here anymore and havent seen ryan againsta top side so i will still fo with leno and also benching him can alsho shoot his confidence than giving him time to reflect

    1. Lol
      World class reflexes like putting the ball in our net against Everton.
      He and Arteta both have contributed to our downfall.
      We sold the keeper who gave us the Fa cup and you still have faith in Leno. You seem to be like Arteta clueless and blindfold.

      1. It is sad because we can’t revert this mistake. Hurts a lot… Selling in a hurry like that. For what 18m. Then going to runarsson lol. And now what. Having to find a good reliable GK again. Sooo stupid

    2. To be honest – Although I share your preference for Marinez, I disagree with you on Martinez being better with his feet. I think that is one of the only parts where Leno was better. He has quick feet and his passes mostly arrive. It is everything else Leno is inferior in compared to Martinez. Set pieces, commanding his box, leadership, attitude, communication.

  2. Agree.Time for Leno to move on to another “challenge” as he put it himself recently.Their are better keepers in the EPL and the Championship ,and I particularly like Sanchez of Brighton.

    1. That’s what I said quite some time ago…we should be going back to Brighton and getting the taller, younger Sanchez before his market value rises too much…he at least has a reasonable chance of being a future starting Keeper at the Emirates

  3. Mistakes by MA:
    Letting Martinez go
    Willian (no goals -massive wage)
    Letting squad players go (surely AMN is better at left back than Xhaka).
    Have you seen the right winger for Villa Real?
    Move Xhaka back to midfield or you will lose on Thursday.
    I admit he has suffers from VAR decisions and poor player error but does he have enough capital in the bank to stay if we finish 10th and without a trophy?
    If so then season 3 will be the biggest of his life.

    1. I think Arteta is on thin ice, but I would give him the first 3/4 months of next season to see if there’s some big improvements. Lets not forget, he hasn’t had a pre-season yet, and only one main transfer window.

      Ship out the rest of deadwood in the summer, get more of his players in, and finally, a pre-season to work on some ideas, should hopefully lead to an improvement.

      1. That’s too much time IMO. You forget emery almost clinched 4th the previous year. Arteta should have done better this year with the squad he has

  4. I like Leno, but he’s in poor form at the moment. I would play Ryan for the rest of the season.

  5. Arteta was ultimately responsible for Martinez leaving, but I thought that the transfer fee went into the pot for Partey. Not a great choice to have to make.

    I was in the Martinez camp but there is no point banging on about it now. I am worried about Leno for the future. Of course all goalkeepers make mistakes, but unfortunately for him there have been some shockers and all too frequently of late. I still look skywards when I think of that pointless punch outside the box which got him sent off.

    For such an important match on Thursday I would go with Ryan. At the moment, I think Leno’s head would be in the wrong place after last Friday’s error.

      1. Eek!
        I thought it did but that isn’t the same as knowing it did. Anyway, it would have helped Siamois

        1. I cant buy this argument that is convenient to not blame arteta. We sold martinez for a ridiculous 18 minus runarsson. 16M. If we needed this cash why not selling torreira even for 20/21 (he was valued at 25/26). Instead of that stupid loan. Why not selling nketiah for a few millions. Registering saliba and letting mustafi go for free instead of paying a year of 85k a week (for a few games played). Same with papa. And why not avoiding willian ? 220k a week lol plus bonuses and add ons. Also martinez was on low wages. it all seemed like they were no plans at all. Frankly, we used the worst way to raise a pathetic amount of money for a guy that raised his level and acted as a talisman on this run. Villa made a fantastic buy. For us, his sale sent a very wrong message to the squad. Work hard 👍 maybe you earn a sale but not a spot in the 1st team.

          1. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me just how much say Arteta has on the value of a player, coming or going. Isn’t that the decisions made by those above him? I doubt if he has any control over the budgetary actions at Arsenal.

        2. I don’t say arteta is rubbish. But he just made a mistake here and is the one to blame for this mistake. Simple. Otherwise i also think (not sure) he is not a good enough coach/manager on the long term to take us forward. But that does not mean he is rubbish. He is a good coach with good ideas / principles. But maybe he will learn fast too and reverse our fortune, who knows. I am absolutely not against that happening.

    1. SueP – Although I agree that we could do with a better goalkeeper and would love for Ryan to get every remaining start in the PL, for today’s game it seems like a big risk to ask Ryan to start. The pressure on him would enormous.

  6. Arteta should start playing Ryan for the next EPL games. Leno should be used in Europa. As for Arteta selling Martinez, that was the best decision at the time. No reasonable coach will guarantee a player game time except he is ready to compete. Martinez was not ready for competition so he had to go.

      1. He is right Reggie “Damian” Martinez wanted to be assured of the number one spot and was not willing to compete for it.

        1. I thought Reggie was as gobsmacked as I was that K wanted Leno to play in the Europa League. But I’m guessing

        2. That’s the MA fans fairytale. He just wanted the 1st spot and it was his right. He earned it with his plays.he should have been trusted at the beginning of the year. Simple as that. Even at the time. No decision was 100% evident or easy but this one was probably the more evident. MA is payed for making this type of harsh decisions when they appear. And in that competing PL there is not much room for mistakes. Keep leno (or sell leno of really you need money) and we could have seen through the fall what was going on. The impact in the squad of his sale was probably stronger than we thought. Remember his tears and the players around him after the game…

        3. Siamois, i know that and he should have been no1,the last line of his post was the reason i was flabbergasted. Martinez not being ready. Rediculous statement.

          1. Sue, im not really bothered which keeper plays in EL semi, its not that big a call for me. Ryan is an experienced premier league goalie, so is Leno. Which one is better? Before Martinez played in Lenos place it was fully accepted Martinez wasn’t up to scratch, how wrong we were, when we actually saw him get his chance.

  7. Omg, 7 months on and people are still harping on about Emi!! It’s time to move on…

    If MA decides to play Ryan on Thursday, fine, haven’t got a problem with it. I’ll be right behind whoever’s between the sticks and hope they have a good game, otherwise…. Emi rinse and repeat 🥱

    1. Great response Sue! Many people use the advantage of hindsight to criticize Arteta…

      For crying out loud, how does a coach know that a player will commit a gross error in a game such as many Arsenal players have done repeatedly this season. These players have truly and simply let the coach down as well as the fans. There are errors committed by the players that we cannot blame the coach for. Until Arteta can bring in players who are comfortable on the ball and class players, there is nothing he can really do.

      Arteta brings in Ryan on Thursday, Ryan makes a mistake, we blame Arteta.
      Martinez was not ready to be second choice, what must Arteta do? Promise him first choice? Willock and AMN do not want to sit on the bench, what must Arteta do? Make them first choice? Eddie and Willian had several chances to impress, now Arteta has benched them for so long. What else must he do? Auba refuses to bury clear cut CHANCeS and Arteta is blamed for that?

      Arteta has his limitations such as any coach but we cannot begin to blame him for others who don’t do their jobs well.

      Well, I wish any other coach who decides to the take this Arsenal job well! With these players, there is only as far as you can go.

      1. No hindsight here, i was one who have said from day one the wrong player was sold and became it was a huge mistake, people will use that stick to beat Arteta with. It was his decision.

        1. Hindsight or not Arteta’s decision was entirely rationale and criticising him for it is unreasonable.
          Martinez wanted to be guaranteed a first team spot and Arteta indicated that he had to compete for it.
          Your suggestion that he should have acceded to the request is problematic in many ways. It clearly sets a bad precedent and undermines the authority of the manager. No manager worth his position would agree to such an arrangement.

      2. No with some of what you say. Suggesting we are stupid or absolutely not consistent. If i would prefer ryan to play Thursday, and he makes a mistake i would not blame arteta LOL. Martinez was not ready to be 2nd choice as he earned on the ground the 1st spot. Simple as that. we were not asking for AMN and willock be first choice but at one point i am sorry it was poor management. Maybe in late November/December. AMN did not even get a minute. We were terrible. Something had to be tried (and AMN did a good garbage match in EL) and no. Better play someone underperforming like willian again and again, Ceballos or elneny . That almost sounded like he was disrespectin AMN /pushing him out. So in my opinion you exagerate some wishes/opinions of fans that were coherent…

    2. Sue, I agree it is the Manager’s call, as he is closest to the players to judge and rises or falls on his decisions.

  8. @Reggie, so why wasn’t Martinez ready to stay and fight for the first place? If your player tells you it is either I am first choice or I must go, what will you do? Arteta simply wanted Martinez to fight for his place and he wasn’t ready for that any longer. He only came in because Leno got injured and it wouldn’t be fair to make Leno second choice without a fight. I don’t believe we should keep on about Martinez. Simply put, players have let both their manager down as well as fans!

    1. 1st point) Yes we should not keep on emi. The mistake was made simply put. That guy that elevated his level and was a such big part of our FA / community shield triumph was just told to go back and sit ok the bench. He is a reason why we are making this huge step backwards this year. 2) when you say we let our manager down. Come on. Unless someone elevates his level and miraculously wins us the EL, 10th in the league and no european football since 25 years. 10th in the league (with the 5th payroll in the league). So many hole defeats. Come on. I think we might already have let some time to MA, no ? More than emery had. More than jose had at spurs. If we had some fantastic games… Bit we don’t see any real improvement except rarely here and there. Changing line-ups, spineless displays. Questionable substitutions and team selections.

      1. @Johnze, I have read your responses and I don’t think it is worth arguing as you seem to not understand my point. In your opinion, Arteta is the problem and should be sacked. So be it! I hope we find that messiah who will transform these SAME players into top-four and title contenders.

        1. I don’t know if you understand mine either lol. I understand your point and maybe there is some truth in between. I don’t say arteta should be sacked right now. He should finish the year. But he is probably not good enough as a coach for arsenal. Everybody including me thought he was a pep bis and he probably is not. Not speaking of messiah, there might JUST be some “proven” (or non novice) managers with some successes on their CV that deserve the chance to impress here. About the players your are right, some play with no passion. Maybe they let down their manager. I don’t say we have the best squad in the league. but probably not the 10th. I have no explanation on why they underachieve. Did they loose faith in MA ? For his management ? His favouritism ? The lack of results… I don’t know. But for me MA had some time, got rid of many players including the ones many thought were the problem (ozil) and there is no that much improvements, not only in the results but also in the way we play… 🤷🏻

          1. @Johnze, thanks for your response! Much respect! I do understand your point! It seems to many, and I don’t blame them, that Arteta is the problem since we are not getting the results we want. There has been errors made by the coach, no doubt about that. But do you know my point, I have seen a minimum of 6 games this season that we should have won and the players single handedly made gross errors that led us to losing such games. Now, I cannot blame the coach for that. So when I compile those points lost and assume the players never made such errors, I see that we are in the top four. This tells me that it couldn’t have been the coach’s fault. So all we need now is some backing from our “stingy” management to buy just 3 – 4 players, and then give the coach half of next season to see what he does, before we can say he should be sacked.

            These are my sincere thoughts. Nevertheless, I do understand yours as well.

    2. Indeed, however it is portrayed Arteta chose Leno as no1. Martinez had been at the club for years and farmed out every year on loan, had keepers including Leno bought over him, had just won us and Arteta the FA Cup. I think he though he wasn’t being treated fairly. When a player comes into a team and does better than the person he is replacing, if he cant take his place ahead of him, first why should he bother and second (this is my point) you dont get true competition for places and improve. The truth is the goalkeeping position we haven’t improved it by doing what he did.

  9. Dan you are right, i have come to think that leno is the worst we’ve had at arsenal . poor game reading ,poor defence organisation. So if we had an experienced manager this man wouldn,t continue playing any more game this season.

  10. He Stayed for 10 years and only played a handful of games before Leno got injured only then did we get to see how good he was.

  11. I certainly wouldn’t be distraught if Ryan was chosen ahead of Leno on Thursday, in large part due to the fact that Emery will deploy the high press and Leno is truly pathetic with the ball at his feet, but Ryan is not the answer moving forward…it was bad enough when we had to withstand the underwhelming performances of Chelski’s sloppy seconds, when we wrongly brought Cech in on a “free”, but to think we sold Martinez on so that we could ultimately end up with Brighton’s back-up as our starting keeper would be absolutely pathetic…it’s one thing to acquire Ryan to help us finagle our way out of this piss-poor season, especially after the whole Runar debacle, but this simply can’t be a viable plan for next season and beyond

    1. Solid point, however I do not care about next season, want to win something this season.
      Leno is out of form, need to win 2 against a very good cup side.
      Bring in Ryan for all his strengths, commanding the box, calm on the ball, goes out and get the ball on set pieces, actually catches the ball on shots, and settles our defenders.

      Cech was the ultimate dud, Szczesny is top class, AFC have not had a good keeper since then other than Emi.

  12. It hurts a lot of fans but we can’t reverse the decision to sell Martinez last year for this small 18m (and go for runarsson lol). Even if a majority of fans already wanted Emi as 1st choice. Even if greats like seaman and keown were on the same page. It was already dubious and it proved so. Fact is we can’t do anything for it now. Arteta probably agree and regret. He is not stupid and blind. Even him can’t do anything. He had to make a decision that he did not want to make. Simple. That hurts but what can we do now. Hopefully we will splash more than we saved on his sale to find a good reliable keeper soon. But until then, we have to stick with our team and save what can still be saved…. Keep faith in leno and ryan. For Thursday who knows. Ryan deserves IMO to be tried given the costly mistakes leno did recently (burnley, wolves, everton). But that would be a slap in the face of leno that he might not take well

  13. Leno will start on Thursday.

    If we had a league game up next (given our current position) Ryan would start.

    No manager would throw Ryan at Thursday’s game.

    Not a judgement on Ryan’s ability, but the clubs no 1 keeper will start regardless of the Everton error.

    As for next season and the future overall, that now looks like a different matter.

    1. No manager ? 🤔 Who knows. That is starting to be a serious amount of mistakes this year (everton yes, but there were minimum 3 big ones this years, including that terrific red card). But yes that might not be the moment. You never know though how people react to pressure. Maybe leno will totally collapse and make another one thursday. Who knows ? But in that case i would not blame Arteta at all. It is a tough decision to make at this moment of the year. Leno has really not help recently because normally Ryan is only a backup and dropping leno would not normally have to come into the discussion 🤷🏻 and i agree with you, it is an other story for the future. I did not like that much what leno said in the medias. Back in October, claming “i always knew i was the 1st choice” or more recently about “the new challenge” while he cost us few games. Question will be if arsenal can find a better option with probably no europe and not so much funds… Not sure about that… Finding a martinez for 18m is unlikely. Good keepers cost a lot or we’ll have to gamble on a younger one…

  14. We are all talking about MA, players and fans letting themselves down 🔻, what of the board. If the board had given enough backup for emery and mikel arteta we would have been better, I see these coaches doing their best with what they have and thee players playing without zeal to return to europe any time soon.
    Get the deadwood out and get young, exciting players in and don’t forget to have our players that are on loan in the plans and that’s all.

    The fall of any company will always be seen as the fault of the manager but we all forget that every company has a CEO.

    1. Emmykay, if the Board and senior management had backed Emery to the degree they backed Arteta, Emery would still be here and Arsenal would be better off IMHO.

      1. Ryan’s a good keeper
        No back up
        Chill start him
        Let Leno fight again , like with emi ,
        Good to push each other

  15. Leno made the kind of mistake for which MANY goalkeepers have been dropped in the past.
    He MUST NOT be given the chance to cost us another game.
    Private Ryan is experienced and qualified to start this game and DESERVES this chance.

    And let’s lay off Martinez. He DIDN’T get greedy and demand to be the starter no matter what, Arteta’s lack of trust in him made him upset and that’s why he left. NO hard feelings AT ALL towards him.

  16. Give Leno a rest and bring in Maty Ryan for our Europa League game. Leno seems to me to be lacking in confidence. He has been really disappointing this season.

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