Emi Martinez said after he left Arsenal that signing for Aston Villa was a ‘step up’ in his career.
At the end of August, The Telegraph reported that Emi Martinez was ‘close to signing’ a new contract with Arsenal. Various Premier League rivals were offering him a role as number one, but the club wanted him to stay. That was a change from last summer, and even earlier in 19/20, when they were open to selling him.
Arsenal had already offered Martinez an extension by that point and Arsenal were reportedly planning to give him game time this season.
That still didn’t seem to make much sense. In 10 years at the club, Martinez was never closer to seizing the number one shirt at the club.
Why did he move?
Turns out, not only did Mikel Arteta tell Martinez that Leno would be his number one for the season, he was also told the Spaniard had no intention of rotating his keepers for cup competitions, a move that appeases many keepers who are too good to be number two but not good enough to be number one at big clubs.
Arteta certainly showed faith in the Argentine when he gave him a start in the Community Shield. Martinez had missed the pre-season friendly against MK Dons earlier that week due to quarantine but he quickly returned to the starting lineup anyway.
But it emerged that, after being left out of the squad that travelled to Fulham for the opening day Premier League fixture, Martinez was having a medical at Aston Villa. They had offered him a four-year deal and assurances he would be number one, something Arsenal wouldn’t give him.
It was the latest in a string of recent results against the big-six with Martinez in the team. He helped Arsenal beat Liverpool twice, as well as Chelsea and Manchester City. He was also unlucky to be on the losing side after a strong display against Spurs.
In all, he played 12 games in a row last season and felt that was enough to start demanding he be number one.
Speaking after he signed for Villa, Martinez said, “I’m in the best shape of my career and when I didn’t have the security of that game time, I wasn’t sure about staying. I’m fighting to be Argentina’s number one, that’s my dream.
“Aston Villa is a massive club, I had no doubts over coming here. Everyone thinks it’s a step down going from Arsenal to Villa, but I actually think it’s a step up in my career.”
Martinez has played six Premier League games for Villa, keeping three cleansheets and conceding nine goals in his other three games.
Arsenal and Villa go into this game with both sides on 12 points. Villa are ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, however. Although they have a GD of +6 compared to Arsenal’s +2, that is due to goals scored rather than conceded. Arsenal have only scored nine while Villa have scored 15.
Arsenal have conceded seven to Villa’s nine.