Arsenal’s stand-in keeper Emi Martinez is poised to maintain his position for tonight’s Premier League tussle at Crystal Palace, and he does so with a ringing endorsement from manager Arsene Wenger.
Martinez came in to replace David Ospina (with Petr Cech already sidelined) for the West Ham game midweek and he looked assured and comfortable in the Gunners’ 3-0 win over a big and strong Hammers outfit.
If Slaven Bilic’s side were going to trouble an often misfiring and nervous Arsenal side it was going to be in the air but they failed to do so; Martinez has already said he believes the game against the Eagles will pose similar threats given the arial power they possess in the shape of strikers such as Christian Benteke.
With Wenger’s men desperate for a victory to stay in touch with the teams fighting for a top four position and subsequent Champions League football for next season, the manager has only positive observations about the young Argentinian stopper, 24.
He believes Martinez is a player who is top quality with the basic qualities for a keeper; that of size, power and technical abilities honed from being with the Gunners for the past seven years (the first two of which were with the youth set-up).
He said: “He has worked with us for a long time now. But also he has that kind of mental confidence and quietness, that security he gives out when he is in goal that makes you think ‘it’s normal that I am here. I’m not intermittent, I am here to stay here’.”
“You feel that, and he gives a kind of security out that’s very positive. Recently we have conceded goals, and I’ve always said it’s a team problem, not a defender’s problem.”
Wenger has also observed that Martinez would certainly be tested before the West Ham game, given that Laurent Koscielny was out injured, but that, “I thought it could be a bit difficult, but overall we dealt with it very well and players like Martinez did very well”.
Tonight he will be tested once more, certainly if Selhurst Park boss Sam Allardyce has anything to say on the subject…