Game of Gloves – An Epic Saga for keeping dominance in the Kingdom of Arsenal

Who will replace Emi?

Emiliano Martínez has been sold to Aston Villa – who will replace him?
The Argentine left the Arsenal after more than ten years, bringing in a figure initially set at 16 million pounds, which could become 20 millions depending on add-ons and bonuses.

What is the plan to replace him?

For a team that already has Matt Macey, Dejan Iliev, Karl Hein, Arthur Okonkwo, James Hillson and Tom Smith in the squad, the role of back-up goalkeeper should not be a big concern, however we are about to formalize a deal worth £ 2 million for Icelandic goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, Alfred Gomis’ reserve at Dijon, and we are working hard on the signing of Brentford’s David Raya, valued at around £15 million.


Raya deal complicated

The negotiations for the Spaniard seems complicated, with Brentford insisting that the goalkeeper, once sold, is immediately loaned back, a bit like what happened with William Saliba and Saint-Étienne.It therefore seems that Rúnar Rúnarsson and David Raya are not competing for the place vacated by Emi but are both strongly wanted by Mikel Arteta and the Club, instead, which leaves me puzzled.

0 Runar-Alex-Runarsson

Er why??

Both 25-year-olds and therefore no longer promising youngsters, the Icelandic and the Spaniard will aim to oust Bernd Leno from the starting role, as did Emiliano Martínez, with the difference that they will have to fight each other for the deputy role, first.An unusual situation, since in general Clubs have two goalkeepers with a substantial age difference between them, plus a third very young or very experienced, while we would end up with three peers, of which two are new signings.

Furthermore, we would find ourselves spending almost all the funds generated from the sale of Emiliano Martínez, which would have been better spent to reinforce the midfield, in my opinion.


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Again, I ask myself: what is the plan?

I tried to go a little deeper and thought that maybe Rúnar Rúnarsson has been bought to replace Matt Macey, destined to leave the club, and that he will be the back-up goalkeeper only for this season, while we are waiting for the arrival of David Raya: why then give him a five-years contract?

However limited the price and the wages of the Icelandic are, we still end up with a long contract on the books and a player who would never play, despite being in his prime.It is difficult to imagine that we will be able to resell him at a higher price than what we paid to Dijon and, even if we did that, it would still be a fee that will not improve our spending power at all. Another downside to having a relatively young third goalkeeper would be the fact that this would shut the door for the Academy’s young goalkeepers, including the up-and-coming Karl Hein and Arthur Okonkwo, thus nullifying the work done to develop and coach these youngsters.

rsz okonkwo

Blocking likes of Okonkwo

Assuming this is the plan, the Icelandic would end up as the third goalkeeper and play in the Carabao Cup only, with Bernd Leno and David Raya fighting for the starting berth between the Premier League, the Europa League and the FA Cup; even considering that Mikel Arteta wants to take a step back and have a league goalkeeper and a cup goalkeeper, which he did not do when we faced Olympiakos last season, we would end up with a goalkeeper paid 15 million (Raya) or even 19 million ( Leno) only playing a handful of games a year – a waste.

… what if the plan was to replace Bernd Leno, instead?

bernd leno arsenal chelsea 2019

Surely not!!

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3 Responses to Game of Gloves – An Epic Saga for keeping dominance in the Kingdom of Arsenal

  1. CT Gooner September 20, 2020 at 12:13 pm #

    I too am perplexed, specially at a time when we are struggling to raise the funds for far more important and urgent positions.

    Much more to the point am I the only one who thinks that we sold the wrong ‘keeper?

    Emi Martinez showed us that he was a really excellent goalkeeper…. and in my one critical area he is far better than Leno.

    He commanded his area and dealt safely with high crosses. Yesterday Leno displayed his failings in that respect. He was unable to deal with high balls, flapping at them, or worse still missing them altogether. No wonder our defenders panicked … they knew that Leno was creating problems rather than dealing with deep crosses and clearing his lines.

    In other respects he is excellent but I think that Martínez was too.

    So why sell Martínez and not Leno? To me it does not make much sense and I am disappointed with the decision and sad to see someone who clearly loves the club go elsewhere. He deserved better.

  2. Victor Thompson September 21, 2020 at 12:15 am #

    I`m glad to see your comment CT. I wrote a comment prior to the sale of Martinez in which I made it known that for numerous reasons he was the better of the two Goalies and that it was more ethical as well, Leno should be the one to sell. The ethical reason is that Martinez had been with us since he was a child and his main reason for coming to Arsenal was because his father supported Arsenal and he inherited his Father`s love of the club. The ethical plan is not always the one that is often ignored for other reasons than concern for the reward for loyalty.

    I don`t know why Leno stayed and Martinez left with great reluctance. Saturday,s game showed clearly that it was a colossal mistake and is probably going to cost us dearly. Leno repeatedly waited too long to make a move for the ball at corners which meant he was battered by attackers while he tried to retrieve it. He rarely won a ball when it was targeted at our goalmouth and he had no commanding presence to bring confidence to our defence. He is the same height as Martinez but he was much more physically blessed and therfore better able to dominate his area against determined forwards such as Antonio. He was late jumping for the ball and fell over an Arsenal player in front of him causing him to drop the ball.which was almost scrambled into the net. Had he jumped earlier he would have had the ball and dropped with it in his hands before he was unable to avoid the collision.

    I was confident that we were going to brush West Ham aside before this game. We had a well drilled and professional defence over the previous 10 games and much of that was because our defenders were able to relax from the necessity to protect the Keeper because they were confident that Martinez was a safe pair of hands. The lack of confidence in Leno permeated from back to front. The Hammers were delighted to charge at us and the response from our players was often in desperation. Klopp will have seen the state of our play and it is certain that he will plan to pressure our goal. with special attendance to Leno. This mistake will have made a hard game even more difficult. We are entering a stiff set of games now and I hope this blunder does not result in a series of similar results.

    • CT Gooner September 21, 2020 at 6:44 am #

      Thanks Victor…… have summed up the situation perfectly……I was even hoping against hope that the transfer had not been completed and that Arteta and Edu would wake up after Leno’s performance on Saturday. But it is not to be and I share your fear for later games. His lack of command is so obvious that I begin to doubt our team management.

      The game also highlighted our lack of a commanding midfielder and we should have paid the price. Neither Ceballos nor Xhaka are good enough, neither can take the match by the scruff of the neck and impose themselves on the opposition.

      Sadly we are not yet there, and I feel that we are going to have another frustrating season. Luiz, bless his cotton socks, will be a better partner for Gabriel, and please please please can we get rid of so much dead wood that is draining the club. We are, regretfully, paying the price of past profligacy…….Arteta has a mammoth task ahead of him, and please, not another goalkeepers error.

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