Having kept clean sheets in each of his three appearances this season, Emiliano Martinez has his sights set on becoming Arsenal’s number one goalkeeper.
The Argentine shot-stopped arrived in England during the summer of 2010, when Arsene Wenger lured the then-17-year-old from his homeland and Independiente. He made his first team bow in England whilst on loan at Oxford United, appearing in their final game of the 2011-12 season in which he let three goals past him as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Port Vale in League Two.
He made his Gunners debut in a 6-1 League Cup win over Coventry City the following season, and kept his place for the next round in a remarkable 7-5 victory against Reading. Last term he had a temporary spell in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday, making 11 appearances of which he kept a clean sheet on two occasions but was on the losing side no fewer than seven times.
The departure of Lukas Fabianski to Swansea City this summer would have boosted his chances at the Emirates Stadium, but Arsene Wenger opted to replace the Pole by taking David Ospina from Nice to provide back-up, and indeed challenge, regular number one Wojciech Szczesny. But with both of these goalkeepers currently injured, Martinez has been given his chance.
Although he was unable to prevent a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United when he replaced the injured Szczesny shortly before the hour-mark, he has gone on to keep clean sheets in the UEFA Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund (2-0), and the Premier League victories at West Bromwich Albion and, on Wednesday night, at home to Southampton (both 1-0).
Martinez admits he considered quitting the Gunners when Wenger brought in Ospina during the summer, such is the 22-year-old’s desire for regular first team football. His agent and family persuaded him to give it another year in the English capital before making any rash decisions, though, and following his recent good form, he is now ready to challenge Szczesny for the number one jersey.
“I spoke to my agent and my family and they said: ‘Let’s wait one year to see if you get the opportunity, don’t rush it’,” Martinez is quoted in The Guardian. “I was still young, just turning 22-years-old, and I think I did good to stay here. I have got the opportunity that my agent and family told me about so I am really pleased. I know that I am young and I need to wait for opportunities.
“But when the opportunity comes, you need to be confident, and show the manager that you can play as well. I think I am doing it. I am breeding confidence in my defenders and I am really pleased for that. Wojciech has got the spot when he is not injured and he is doing a good job. Hopefully, if I get a chance against Stoke City, I will keep a clean sheet and we can win the game.”
Despite Martinez’s promise, it appears as though Wenger will soon be back up to a full complement of options between the sticks. Szczesny looks set to recover from his thigh injury ahead of the trip to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon, whilst Ospina is also closing on a return. However, he at last given the French coach something to think about when it comes to team selection.
Is Martinez good enough to be Arsenal’s number one goalkeeper now, or is too soon for him? Let us know what you think by joining in the discussion below.