Why Bernd Leno should remain as Arsenal’s Number One next season

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…

Agboola Israel


  1. Martinez should retain his position as number one until Leno ousts him!

    If not for Martinez, we may have finished lower in the EPL and missed out on the FA Cup victory. He was the deference of us winning some very important games. Somewhere I believe he beats Leno (hands down) is in his quick decisions to come out for the ball. Leno always seems a bit tentative to come off his line. Leno also had tendencies to miss-judge high balls. Ultimately, leading to errors and mistakes.

    For me, Martinez deserves to keep his spot!

    1. Sorry he lost his place through injury and Martinez Deserves to stay in goal he’s playing well so why should he be dropped.?

  2. Martinez has been exceptional this season and should stay no 1.

    Mr Leno should be made to wait for his place to become available. Martinez has earned the right to be no 1.

  3. I love Leno but i love Martinez also. This is quite a dilemma for me. Someone once said if you have two loves, choose the one who came second, why? I don’t know. Is it applicable here? don’t know also but i think it will be wise for MA to keep both and make them slug it out for the number one spot.

  4. “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. ”
    urhm He cost us the Europa league game against olympiacos? (funny martinez was supposed to play that game but Arteta asked Leno to play instead).
    I Love Leno and he’s saved our asses more times than I can count but the fact that he has a mistake or 2 in him waiting to happen is something that worries me. He is a great shot stopper and his reflex is top notch but Martinez has all of that too and much more. Martinez has the height and build advantage. Helps him deal with crosses better. Martinez doesn’t just pushes shot away, where someone else can play in the rebound (like the example you gave against spurs where Leno blocked a kane’s shot only for sissoko to hit a shot on the rebound) as good as the double save was, any other time, it could have been a goal. Martinez doesn’t take chances. This guy actually catches the ball, including really powerful shots I would think would be punched. He grabs them in his palms. We found set pieces easier to defend with martinez, catching 80% of crosses that come in. What a great goalkeeper Leno is but boy he has to fight really hard to get that top spot from Martinez tbh. It’s good competition as it keeps both goal keepers on their toes. It’s great when you have a really solid goalkeeper but having two is nothing short of a miraculous blessing. Martinez stands out for me over Leno. Till he proves otherwise but so far so great

    1. Leno made 5 mistakes leading to goals in his first season. He isn’t world class imo and has a big mistake in him as we saw against chelski.

  5. Yeah Martinez for me as well, I remember Martinez towards the end of the FA Cup Semi Final and Final hoovering up any ariel ball that was thrown into the box. You need that from a goalkeeper. It gives the whole team confidence. Leno’s default is to punch, it cost us the home game against Chelsea. Martinez isn’t just about ball catching though for a tall goalkeeper he is very agile, good shot stopper and distribution is spot on.

    1. This is a quite dilemma for me.I love both. Leno has been more consistent across his two seasons at the club and Martinez gives the whole team confidence from the restart of PL..So,Leno has been exceptional for the last 2 years, he has earned right to be NO 1 .

  6. You forget that he missed the high ball into the box that allowed Abraham to score and lose 2:1 against Chelsea in the first round of the league.

    His weakness is long ball or corners into the box which is a constant tactics in the EPL thus a plus for Marti. Marti is Arsenal through and through having been here since age 17.

    Marti is all round and a better keeper and Arteta should not make a mistake and sell and keep Leno. Leno should rather leave.

  7. During the season we play:

    38 PL matches
    6-15 EL matches
    10 Cup matches (roughly)
    1 Charity Shield

    That’s over 60 games in a season, not counting friendlies. 30 matches for a GK is not enough..? Put that into perspective:

    30 matches during the season, you don’t play in June/July/first half of August. Add all the national team breaks, and you play approx 8 months in a year. That’s 32 weeks. So as a goalkeeper, you are bound to play approximately 1 game per week. Is that not enough to rotate the two..?

  8. I wonder why it took Martinez time to become our number one (I need to ask Wenger first). Anyway, he is a very good goal keeper from the games I have seen him play starting from the Brighton game where Leno was out injured. I was really worried for the team as I had no faith in martinez as I was so used to Leno being the number one and doing extremely well….

    Truth is I like leno and I also like martinez for his performance recently. Martinez should continue as number one until Leno recovers and we see how it goes. I will judge martinez again after more games under his belt as we have seen leno in 2 seasons..

    Like some people say, i like the way the ball magnet on martinez hands. I remember the fa cup semi final against manc. Mahrez with a tricky shot that was going in but the way martinez went to the ground to get hold of the ball was incredible.

    I won’t be quick to forget Lenos heroic games with the team before the injury. I like the two goal keepers. Martinez just gave me another thinking to why he isn’t the number one all this years especially when we had ospina

  9. Have to disagree on this one AI .Fine shot stopper that he is, Leno does not have the commanding presence of Martinez, who instills confidence in our defenders with his ability at set pieces.Martinez , is the man in possession and he should start the season as our number one.If there was a League for the Club with the best duo of keepers, we might well be top?

    1. This comment sums up my view.
      A keeper who does not view a high ball as an airborne bar of soap is something we have lacked for a very long time.

  10. Install Leno as number 1 – he feels untouchable & Martinez is demoralised. Emi unhappy/doesnt train well/leaves. Leno has no proper competition.

    Keep Emi as number 1 – Both keepers fight it out, bringing the best out of each other and benefiting the team

  11. Martinez has always been a very good keeper but has not got first team opportunities over the years. It is funny that some people are expecting his form to dip drastically very soon. When Leno got injured like most fans I was also gutted, even though I knew Martinez would be a decent deputy in his absence. But, Martinez has come out and has stunned us with his performances. He should keep the number one slot and Leno has to challenge.

  12. Emi Martinez hands down, no sentiments attached, remember Leno’s Chelsea howler? Emi is the typical goalie for EPL where physical presence, ball distribution and reflexes count. And with our midfield and defense, you need a lions’s courage to play and win a finals. Emi is the next best thing after Jens Lehman, hope we repeat the invinclibles some time soon.
    Nevertheless, wish Leno a quick recovery .

  13. You could see how much it meant to after the FA Cup victory. He proved once and for all he deserves his place after so many years playing second fiddle! He deserves it more than ever to be given the No.1 keeper spot! Leno is a fantastic keeper though. I hope we can keep both!

  14. No, Admin. You conveniently seem to forget the goal Jorginho scored against Leno at the Emirates. A tap-in resulting from Leno’s inability to deal with crosses. I don’t have the stats as im not a journalist, but Arsenal have conceded probably the most goals from set pieces compared to the other top 6 clubs. That has been a serious achilles heel for our club for over a decade. We finally have a goalkeeper has helps eliminate that problem in Martinez. He is tall, and a very good shot stopper. I think he is marginally better than Leno

  15. Arsenal circumstances sorrounding keepers may be very interesting. Leon came in already a great keeper but he had to earn the spot when Cech got injured or something. Cech could reclaim the spot. Again Marti has proven that he can own that number one spot while Leno was out injured.

    until Marti proves otherwise, he has to continue commanding #1 spot. Besides that i remember that Leno punching the ball into the legs of James Milner against Liverpool in 2018/19 season, i remember the Tammy abraham goal against Chelsea, i remember the Olympiaks story, they all count against Leno despite him being a pillar during the dismal period of Arsenal displays

  16. How many goals did we concede from set pieces?
    Here lies the problem with Leno.
    Its always been the way with keepers that they need to grasp the chances given to them and this usually happens when their college gets injured.
    Leno is on a long term contract so we don’t really have to worry about losing him unless an offer came in we couldnt refuse.
    Big Marti has a year left and his value is probably under 10m.
    Leno is imo the best shot stopper we’ve ever had ( in my lifetime) but he really lacks in other area’s and I have not seen improvement in them
    Distribution, Set pieces / crosses and his overall presence and how he commands his area.
    To me a keeper that can come and claim a crossed ball is much more useful than a keeper that chooses to punch / flap 90% of them, why? its simple, a keeper that can claim a ball helps relieve pressure from the defenders and we can regain shape and possession which enables the team to attack.
    If you are under the cosh and a keeper just punches everything you just end up under more pressure for a longer period.
    Look, im not taking anything away from how well leno played under UE and before the injury but the fact is Big Marti has a much better skill set than Leno.
    At the end of the day, if MA goes with Marti, it will be his to lose and we know we have another good keeper to come in if his form drops.
    My idea is for Marti to start the season as No1 and see how he goes for a few months, if its good get him a new deal, if not flog him in January if its not going to work out.
    I think he deserves the chance to prove himself next season

  17. Both great goalkeepers… But i keep asking my self “why was martinez so avarage at the begining of the the season(uel, caraboa cup)”.. Emi shud always play the cup comp.. And at least 8 epl matches lets see if he can prove himself to be consistent enough to be our no1

  18. Leno without a doubt for me ,mistakes before was down to the amount of shots he had to face while Emery was in charge,back then the whole team didnt know if they were coming or going ,having to play for a coach that had no idea how to set and install discipline with the team ,then He gets injured just as Arteta gets us playing as a team again .
    Martinez as done a super job but there is a reason why he as been a 2 nd choice keeper for 10 years .

    1. Wow! That seems harsh for someone who has just manned the goal post confidently and comfortably if i might add, unless u want to turn a blind eye to his achievements as the keeper who has just helped us win the FAcup.

  19. The guy between the sticks is Emi, Leno has to play better to retain. Im a Leno fan but Emi has probably looked even better than Leno. Emi seems to be more assured and doesn’t look like he makes errors. May the best man win.

  20. Leno was unfortunately injured, which gave Martinez the opportunity to be Arsenal’s number one goal keeper. Martinez grabbed his chance with both hands and has excelled. Leno now has to win the spot back on his return from injury by proving he is the better and more reliable goal keeper.
    The strengths and weaknesses of both keepers have been well discussed by others above.
    By the way Agboola, how was Emery captain of a sinking ship when Arsenal in the 2018/19 season finished fifth by one point (or a penalty goal miss against Tottenham) and beaten finalists in the Europa League? It doesn’t say much for the opposition, given that at the end the Arsenal players downed tools.

    1. They didn’t down tools ,Emery just wasn’t good enough ,Arteta has proved this by winning the FA cup of it’s the same players and installing his game plan into the heads ,something Emery couldn’t do ,no shame in what happened he just wasn’t good enough

      1. Dan, choosing a head coach, who couldn’t communicate in English is not a smart move, but look at the performances and results towards the end of the season.
        I support Mikel Arteta, but by the way Arsenal threw away an away win at Olympiakos to loose the tie overrall in the Europa League.

    2. Agboola may be right becuase even in the class of dull people there is also a better than the rest, in short Emery was not good enough to shoot high considering TOT, Man U, Chelsea were not at their best in the said season. He was bad with his squad management and his gameplans didnt help at all, remember how he made players like Laca, Torreira, Ramsey and MKhi frustrated with his build up from the keeper or from a number 6. Yes he finished 5th and was finalist in Europa but still his sheep was facing down

      1. To be fair Arsenal were in transition after Wenger departed in their style of play, and his selection choices were limited by injuries. The four players you have mentioned haven’t exactly set the world on fire, whether with Arsenal or new clubs since Emery was sacked, so how is their performances all down to Emery?

  21. Bob Wilson was also rather shaky for a number of seasons in and out of the side but eventually, it all came together and he was one of the best and certainly the bravest I have ever seen.
    Martinez may have been inconsistent in his years at Arsenal until his recent introduction but maybe he is on a similar path to Wilson – I certainly hope so. Self-confidence is a very big thing for keepers and if they have it then it is often transmitted to the defenders in front of them.

    1. INGLEBY, YOUR FINE POST SHOWS THE ADVANTAGE THAT WE OLDIES HAVE OVER THE YOUNG ONES IN MAKING USEFUL COMPARISONS. I doubt that many younger Gooner would have known about Wobbly Wilson, who almost overnight ditched the “wobbly” which never returned. One of the great Arsenal keepers and my single most favourite ever player, by a distance. I so admire this wonderful man. He would run FIFA, were it up to me!

      1. Agreed – it has always rather mystified how he seemed to change overnight.
        Great keeper and even with tragedy in his personal life, he found something positive to draw from it.

        1. I am a great fan of Bob Wilson; however Martinez in my view has never been “rather shaky”, but has had very few opportunities to demonstrate his abilities. I can’t remember a poor performance in any match he played, say in cup competitions.

    Judged on those ten games Martinez has proved a superb keeper. But what if thats all he has at that level? What then?
    For sure, Emis confidence in crosses when under pressure remind me of Seaman at his best and that cannot be ignored. Has his shot stopping been tested ENOUGH, YET, to rival Lenos though? My gut feeling is that MARTINEZ is the real McCoy and we cannot afford to let him go.

  23. Lie from pit of hell from that article, that martinez is a high risk,that unknown south american keeper will fetch arsenal more money than elite class goalkeeper like leno is another big lie.Also he said he saved arsenal against hotspur & watford,what about martinez against liverpool,city & final against chelsea? Again he carries our DNA,while leno did not,again,i want to know whether is good to breed players for other to use? finally,you mentioned leno’s deficiences which are not known with marti, And you admit he is more rounded and better than leno not to talk of age,and yet you refused to give him the credit of been the best and better.parting shot, i leave the decision with the manager arteta but for me, Arsenal no 1 keeper next season is Emiliano Martinez.

  24. Martinez,

    Calm, confident, and a FA Cup winner in a tough tough season.

    Reason he could not get in the side was
    who was in front of Emi, Fabianski, Szczęsny, Ospina and finally Leno. Not many youngsters are going to get a chance to start above those guys, even if you rate him above them now.

    AFC is on an upward trajectory, the stats don’t lie, Emi best in league, he starts!

  25. I have been very impressed with Martinez and he should take top spot imo. No nervy stuff- just confident and super effective. He has taken his chance and I hope he gets the chance to shine next season. That doesn’t mean that Leno isn’t a good keeper but why upset the flow?

  26. Martinez proved that he is number 1 and he deserves to stay like that until Leno work harder on his passing and GK-kicks.

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