Three Big Dilemmas for Arteta: Nr1 – Bernd or Emil?

Let’s do a few short discussion posts about some of the key decisions Mikel will have to make sooner or later. Today’s post is about the keeper ‘dilemma’.

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Leno or Martinez

This is not an easy one, is it? Martinez has been sensational and was a key player in us winning the FA Cup and thus qualifying for Europe. But Leno had had a fine season too until it was ended cruelly through injury. Preferring the Argentinian to the German might make sense in terms of momentum but it would sit badly with our value of looking after our players when they get injured.

I must say to slightly prefer Martinez for his extra physical presence and the way he seems to fit in so well with our defence; especially his sweeping up behind the defence and ability to put off attackers when they are about to strike has been very impressive. But this could just be ‘beginners-impact’ and once the first mistakes will happen he may just lose it altogether.

And Leno was also impressive and is a brilliant shot-stopper. Bernd is also brilliant at putting attackers off and making point blank saves.

So once they are both fully available, what should Mikel do?

  1. Should he play them both from one game to the next?
  2. Should he sell one of the goalkeepers and get a new number two/ promote Macey?
  3. Should he stick with the man in form, Martinez, and offer Leno the cup games initially?
  4. Or should he simply reinstall Leno as his nr.1 and refer Martinez back to his cup-games-role?

Over to you.

By TotalArsenal.

62 thoughts on “Three Big Dilemmas for Arteta: Nr1 – Bernd or Emil?

  • Hi Total,

    I’m a firm believer in continuing to play the in form players – especially goal keepers, in can badly affect their psyche if they are dropped for no apparent reason.

    I would keep both of them and rotate them either by the amount of continuous games played (to avoid burn out or injury) or based on form.

  • I’m a big fan of EMI but having said that, Leno has done nothing wrong. If Leno stays number 1 I think EMI will go elsewhere

  • Sell Leno for 50m pounds or more. Use the cash to rebuild Arsenal. Promote two best gks from the trio of Macey, Illiev and Hein.

  • Let Arteta give Martinez a chance as his first choice, I’m very sure he’ll impress between the sticks . Leno also to help the team in league cups ; he’s good enough and our aim as a team is to win trophies and titles

  • Great thought provoking stuff TA, I’m sure this weighs heavily on the minds of many Gooners.

    1. No, one should be the undisputed starter going into the new season and I can’t see Emi being happy with the situation being up in the air.

    2. Yes, we should sell one of the GKs provided Leno has fully recovered from his injury. Even though the market is suffering right now because of the pandemic, GK is one of the positions where we can actually extract value to reinvest into the midfield.

    3 & 4. This is the hard one. Martinez’s size, assured hands and command of the box are superior to Leno, while Leno’s ball distribution and ability to close down shooting angles are superior to Martinez’s.

    I don’t think clubs will come in with acceptable bids for Leno at this point, which leads to Emi being the more likely candidate to be sold. Not saying we should sell Emi on that basis, but it’s something to consider. On the other hand, Emi helps with our homegrown quotient and if we’re looking to sell Holding and Chambers (as rumoured we are), then we’ll have to keep a careful eye on having capable homegrown players that are not just add ins (i.e. youth players) to meet the quotient. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen enough of Macey to know whether he’s ready or not.

    For the time being, I would prefer to see Emi over Leno starting next season. However, factoring in that Emi has higher than anticipated market value and our need to strengthen in other positions (CM), then I’m expecting Emi to be sold and am also happy with Leno as our starter.

  • Both top class keepers in my opinion. I prefer Martinez because l believe he commands his box better . He is also not afraid to give the ball a big boot when required.

    Also many of the top keepers appear to be a little in decline. Chelsea and United desperately need a top class keeper and even The Liverpool and City keepers haven’t lived up to their high standards recently. Wasn’t the .barca keeper being looked at as a replacement for De Dea?


  • Great question and very difficult to answer because both our keepers have many big pluses and precious few minuses.

    If both were fit to go then I would still go with Martinez as he’s not done anything to justify him losing his place and although that’s really tough on Leno, it is the way of the jungle.

    But from what I’ve read it seems that Arteta may not need to decide straight away if the rumours are correct because Leno has had some complications and may take awhile longer to recover from his knee injury. So it seems as if Arteta will go into next season with Martinez as his No.1 and that should allow Mikel more time to finally decide what to do and which goalkeeper to stick with, getting Emi to sign a new contract is also quite important.

  • If Leno takes a while to recover it should also open the door for Matt Macey to get some game time in the League Cup for certain and possibly the early rounds of the Europa?

    I get the feeling that our goalkeepers are receiving some quality coaching finally after too many years of the very average Gerry Peyton.

  • Why is there even a discussion?
    Leno is the established #1 and he will retain his place.
    At 27 to Leno’s 28, Martinez will look for a #1 position elsewhere.

  • @Maxcat Why discuss anything then?

    Isn’t it supposed to be fun/interesting when people have different opinions?

    There’s also actually a larger contingent of people that would prefer Emi over Leno.

  • TA, I will play each keeper against different types of opposition. For those ball playing teams we can play Leno, and those mid table teams that sit back and counter we can play Martinez.

    However, knowing Arteta’s tactics, he will play Leno in the PL and Martinez in the cup games.

  • Isn’t it obvious that Martinez has displayed a slight edge over our highly rated Leno? Very surprising and difficult to accept but it’s true. However Leno is still top notch and haven’t done anything wrong to deserve a drop, so I’ll answer all the questions in plain language.
    Should he play them both from one game to the next? The answer is yes, no number 1 over the other, or is there any rule against this in football ?

    Should he sell one of the goalkeepers and get a new number two/ promote Macey? Capital NO. If you sell one of them and another injury situation occurs, Arsenal will be vulnerable, and who says Arsenal can’t patrol two best keepers at the same time, that’s unique.

    Should he stick with the man in form, Martinez, and offer Leno the cup games initially? Obviously yes because Leno will need sometime to get into the groove after recovery.

    Or should he simply reinstall Leno as his nr.1 and refer Martinez back to his cup-games-role? That’s a no, no. You can’t possibly do that. You don’t drop an in-inform player for whatever reason. Martinez must continue in that role until Leno is proven to be fully fit and they can share responsibilities equally.

  • Highbury Harmony, regarding your comment yesterday at 21:18,
    I understand where you were coming from, in a business perspective, however I will say to keep both ‘keepers.
    Emi had been third choice for much of his career with us. The modern game plays with Leno (Ter Stegen) type of keepers and Emi is a traditional keeper compared to a modern keeper. Emi likes to get the ball quickly upfield, while Leno plays from the back.
    I had never been a fan of playing from the back, as we had made too many a mistake from that style of play (Emery), so apparently we made more mistakes at the back with Leno in goal. With Emi in goal, we played more route 1 balls, and less passing around the back.

    Keepers like Allison and Emerson were less effective playing from the back this season due to quicker strikers and the eagerness to push up front by the PL teams, thus putting the defense under greater pressure. When teams like Citeh and Liv push up, their defense became increasingly exposed and the keeper bears most of the brunt by conceding.

    Mikel have to find a good way to play out from the back while at the same time get balls quickly upfield in a manner that beats both top teams and mid table teams.

  • I’m strongly of the option of playing both in the league. If I were to propose, I would say Arteta should start both keepers in 5 matches intervals.

    Martinez will start the first 5matches of the season and Leno will be next for another 5 matches. A rotation of that sort will keep both keeper on their toes. This will be good for the team.

  • Play inform goalkeeper. Martinez helped to win the fa Cup and get us into europa Cup stick with him till form changes

  • Yes HH selling one for good money is very attractive as they are both too good not be a regular GK. At their age they want to be in the action and Martinez has been living the dream in recent months, so I am sure he would want to move on if the old arrangement was reinstated. I agree that the Argentinian would fetch more money, but I would be sad to see him go given how well and spirited he played during difficult times.

  • Retsub, good shout about top keepers struggling with form in recent months. It just shows how much of a psychology game it all is. And that is my worry a bit with Martinez; what will happen when he hits a bad patch?!

  • Cheers 84, the problem of that is that defenders and GK need to develop that automatic understanding between each other and once you start to mix up the GK-Defence partnerships there is a considerable risk of it going horribly wrong in games. But it would be the fairest way of doing it, I give you that.

  • Welcome Kelechi, that is a good comment and I tend to agree with a lot of your reasoning. I am not sure whether we can keep them both, though, even though I get your point re injury. Martinez has tasted the juice now and once Leno is fully fit it will be a dilemma as I cannot see your answer to the first question work out realistically (as per my answer to 84 above).

  • Olustee, I like your thinking of 5 games in 5 games out. This could work especially if it is done with an international break between the slots.

  • Mail reporting that we’ve signed Gabriel for £22 million – waiting for more legit sources to confirm, but still hoping for the best!

  • TA, I’ve only seen him play a few times, but I’ve read a lot of various scouting reports on him and the below is what I would summarize:

    1) Passing and distribution, very high success rate with diagonal long balls (huge plus for Arteta for the ability to hit teams fast down the channels)
    2) Very strong defensively (positioning and tackle success rate)
    3) Good success rate when challenging for balls in the air
    4) Decent pace for a CB
    5) Composure (doesn’t foul very often, doesn’t go to ground very often and isn’t afraid of any individual attacking threats)

    1) Could stand to be even more dominant in the air given his size
    2) Could further improve his pass accuracy, but he’s often tasked with playing the more progressive passes for Lille from the back
    3) Fairly reliant on his left foot

  • Yeah, it’s going to be a difficult decision for sure Total, but leaving it until January might just give Arteta the time he needs to make the right decision?

    For me Martinez and our defenders seem to have a better understanding and connection than with Leno, who is a great shot stopper whose made some extraordinary saves but he also has a tendency on occasions to flap a bit when crosses come in and there’s no doubt in my mind that the physical presence of Martinez is a factor as he never gets bullied in the box and you need that in English football.

    Retsub made a great point about Martinez and his long balls, his distribution is very good, he doesn’t fanny about and he quickly gets us going again so give him another 15/20 games and then decide? We know how good Leno is and we know his ceiling, but that extra time with him out could be enough for us to decide if Emi is the real deal or if that end of season form was a flash in the pan.

  • Just a point concerning our 25 man squad and the spaces available at this time.

    We have 17 spaces available for foreign players and currently have 18 in situ with both Martinelli and Guendouzi (?) under 21.

    Elneny and Mkhitaryan leaving on loan or permanently frees up one space and that’s where being smart in the market comes into play. We don’t need to sell any of our Home Based players like AMN or Bellerin or Holding as we’re not currently in the market for domestic players.

    So if we want to sign Gabriel (I hope you’re right HH) or Partey or Ceballos then we need to shift another two foreign players to free up the space needed. I guess that Ozil hanging around might not be just about finance but on him log jamming the squad?

  • @allezkev

    I do think we’ll be moving on from one or both of Holding and Chambers if suitable bids come in. I believe Arteta will want funds to bring in a transformative CM to take us forward (Partey, Aouar, Soler etc.).

    Mustafi is out until October/November, so there’s a chance that allows for a temporary spot for a foreign player. Aside from Elneny and Mkhitaryan likely looking to be moved on, my guess is that Guendouzi and Torreira will be moved on if suitable offers or swap proposals come through. It’s even possible that Lacazette is moved on with Juve apparently interested.

    I’m sure the club would like to move on from Ozil and Sokratis, but it will likely be next to impossible to move either one at this point (1 year left on their deals with high wages).

    How many foreign player spots would that leave us with (I believe Bellerin and Martinez would be considered homegrown)?

  • That is a good shout to keep Emil as Nr1 till January, Kevski. That would provide clarity to both and give Bernd a chance to ease back into it.

  • TA, yes Mari is the only left footed CB that we currently have at the club, which is why I believe Arteta wants to have two (cover for injury/rotation/cup game tactics).

  • TA, I’d assume with Mustafi’s injury taking him out until likely November, Luiz will be playing more until he’s back, which could force Arteta into playing a 3-4-3 again against better sides with Luiz as the central CB.

    That could then allow both Gabriel and Saliba to start (if we can secure Gabriel and if Mari is not fully healthy yet). I don’t think Arteta will play Saliba and Gabriel together immediately in a back four and will give them time to acclimatize to the league.

    The earliest we might see Gabriel and Saliba play together would then be potentially in Europa league group stages, but even that could be too soon. Once everyone is back healthy, I’d assume Luiz will be phased out since he’s not quite suited to a back four (Mustafi-Gabriel and Saliba-Mari being the main pairings barring injury/suspension).

  • Actually HH, I think that Saliba is U21 as well so he doesn’t count for this summer, so there’s a spot there. Therefore if Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Torrieira and Lacazette leave that’ll be 4 spots I think?

  • I know what you mean about Chambers and Holding HH although both have done ok for Arteta.

    Will Chambers even be fit in time if Arsenal wish to sell him this summer and I’m not sure and I’d want to see him sold for the paltry £12m I’ve seen quoted?
    Leeds were apparently interested in Holding but now it seems Arteta wants to keep him, is this all tied in with Raul and was he the driver of certain player sales, because it was commonly thought that Arteta wanted AMN to stay?

    With Raul gone will this all change?

  • @allezkev yes was not counting either Saliba or Martinelli in our count due to their respective ages (Or did you mean Guendouzi is U21 so he doesn’t count?).

    I believe there is a deal in place with Roma for Mkhitaryan, essentially another loan with full wages paid. Seeing some links from Italian clubs for Sokratis, so maybe there’s a slim chance he’s convinced to leave since he’s played in Serie A before.

    Does Willian take one of those 4 potential remaining foreign player spots? If so, I’d imagine he’d be taking Mkhitaryan’s spot.

  • Great point regarding the back three HH which I tend to agree with but as Total says we’ll probably see Luiz start most games up until January at least.

    The back three is coming back in vogue so I see it as beneficial for us and we have enough versatile players to switch during games let alone from game to game. 5 subs could be the norm from now on, we might even see the drinks break continued with initially with such a backlog of competitions and games to contend with which I also think suits Arteta.

  • Yes HH, aren’t Napoli ironically being linked with Sokratis, so we get Gabriel (fingers crossed) and then we sell them Papa?

  • @allezkev and TA, I don’t think Luiz will be starting most games once Mustafi is fit. Luiz showed great improvements under Arteta, but you could still see how exposed he is in a back four (see 1st Man City game after the restart and then later against Villa).

    However, having a plethora of CBs will afford Arteta flexibility against certain opponents. It really depends on who we get in midfield too, as I would guess Arteta wants to eventually transition to a back four to help dominate games.

  • I would go with option 4.
    It is very difficult to find such a talented and patient backup-goalkeeper like Martinez. I wouldn’t sell him, and for the same reason, wouldn’t sell Leno either.
    I would look for a solution where Leno plays 3000 minutes next year and Emi plays 2000 himself. Basically what happened this season.

  • @TA, your prediction is looking good right now.

    The reason I don’t see Luiz as central to Arteta’s plans next year is because he’ll eventually want to shift to a back 4 and the ball playing from the back can be replaced by signing Gabriel or Mari being healthy, along with some additions to midfield (lots of ifs there mind you).

  • Sound reasoning, HH. My view is that Luiz is the leader and organiser in defence next season. All other CBs other than Big Sok are PL inexperienced. I would prefer a back four btw.

  • Great post TA. Very tough decision.

    I’d go with 4.

    Part of that reason is I can’t shake off the feeling of ‘beginners impact’ – even Almunia had it haha :/

    He has been exceptional and really grown but Leno has the runs on the board. Consistency is there and personally I think he’s one of the best shot-stoppers in the world. He really saved us in a lot of games.

    The tricky part will be convincing Martinez to stay. I hope he stays for one more year at least and doesn’t do a Fabianski. I wouldn’t blame him if he did because his worth is at an ATH at the moment and he has been at Arsenal for a long time. If I was Arsenal I would bump up his wages and see how this all plays out.

    Fight it out gents!!!

  • Another fine post, TA. Martinez has been making it clear he has suitors aplenty just at a time when his stock is high and we’ve just won the FA cup. What that tells me is he wants us to value him, read: offer him a new deal and wages that can’t be easily matched by those suitors. Not sure what he’s on now but I can’t see too many clubs willing to pay him 80k just yet.

    So, increase his wages, play him till Leno is fit and ease Leno back in. It won’t be long when Martinez May have a bad game and that affects him, going forward; that’s usually the chance to bring in the erstwhile No.1, at which time the deputy will feel relief rather than angst. We’ve seen these things play out often enough. No. 1 should remain so except there is a huge loss of form or confidence.

  • Cheers Oz, bumping up the wages would be a good sweetener. It is tough being a nr2 goalkeeper at a top club. You are the insurance policy but, a bit like the biological clock for women, you don’t have forever to realise yourself, so to speak. I don’t think Martinez can hold himself back now that he bathed so vividly in the limelight.

  • More good reasoning, Erismus. Just not sure whether Martinez is the type to revert back to the shadow. The way he took his chance was very impressive, and my money is on him wanting first team football now. It has a now or never feel about it.

  • Agree with TA, Martinez won’t want to go back to being second fiddle, especially not at 27.

    It’s weird preferring Martinez to Leno at this point, but there’s little to no chance we’ll receive a reasonable bid for Leno. Selling Martinez at this point would be selling at close to a potential high, so I’m ok with that if it helps to bring in Partey or Aouar.

  • I feel more and more that offering Martinez a new improved contract and then looking into selling one of them in January transfer window, when teams often are desperate to replace an injured or out of form goalkeeper, is the best strategy.

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