Dan asked yesterday who should be Arsenal’s Number One next season, so here is my response….Bernd Leno Must Start For Arsenal Next Season by AI
It was an absolute chore to watch Arsenal play last season under Unai Emery. The midfield was nonexistant by every means and teams regularly put our defence under a back-breaking amount of pressure. In a single game at home against Watford, Arsenal conceded over thirty shots. Arsenal’s saving grace was none other than Bernd Leno who saved what must have been an unholy number of shots.
While Emery captained a sinking ship, Leno’s outstanding individual performance held the fort. He palmed away a truckload of goal-destined shots, with the highlight coming against Tottenham at home. Harry Kane had somehow managed to ghost in front of the defence and onto the end of a Christian Eriksen lob. In that moment, the England striker had the entire goal to himself. Bernd Leno pushed out and made himself big. Kane took his shot and Leno dived for an outstanding save. The ball took a strong bounce back to the edge of the penalty box where Sissoko smashed it back at once. Leno, now getting himself up, was suddenly required to block another goalbound shot, which he did – to the relief of so many.
There was this other hangman moment against Manchester City when Phil Foden weaved the ball through several challenges into the halfspace where Kevin De Bruyne forced a furious one-time shot. Normally, that shot was bound for the highlight reels, but Arsenal’s big man reacted just in time to tip the ball away against the goalpost and out of bounds. It was an instant and yet casual display of elite shot-stopping.
So perhaps everyone could forgive the gloom that met Leno’s injury at the hands of Brighton’s Neal Maupay. It was a disheartening moment for everyone at the club. Little did we know that we had another comforter.
Emilano Martinez came in, took the gloves with confidence and showed so much ability, that it is now a legitimate debate as to who should continue between the sticks next season.
Leno is known for his elite shot-stopping and very good sweeping but he’s a bit average in distributing the ball and commanding his area at set pieces. Martinez, since his deputizing act, has had the highest save percentage in the league, very solid distribution and good command of his area. The Argentinian seems to be a bit more all-round than Leno and that is his big claim for the spot next season.
But Leno has been far more consistent across his two seasons at the club. Leno has not cost us any points at all and he was one of our best players this season. He seems to be… improving. And with his ball-distribution, it is not that his passing is atrocious or weak at all. It just appears that he lacks confidence in his defenders and for good reason. Leno’s command of his penalty area is one area to improve but it is not at an awful level. It just seems average in respect to his other qualities and one feels that he could very well improve on this aspect.
Martinez has a good shout for the gloves. He has not looked weak in any area. And based on his performances, he deserves to continue. But Arsenal are taking the risk if they go with the club’s longest serving player. There is no assurance that his form will continue consistently over a season. To push out Leno is to gamble that Martinez will continue at this level — something that no one is sure of.
Martinez’s transfer value is at its highest at the moment. He’s in the form of his life. There’s the possibility that he regresses from this level. Arsenal would be making a risky decision if they stuck with him and sold Leno for the cash, instead. Leno is low-risk. We know what we are getting from him.
This is why Leno must be allowed to continue his heroic performances next season. It is simply the most sensible thing to do, and with only a one year contract at the moment, this is the perfect time to cash in on Martinez, who has already threatened to leave if not played regularly…