Aaron Ramsdale looks more and more likely to retain the Arsenal number one shirt after just a few games this season for Bernd Leno, but is the German paying for being signed by Unai Emery?
Football fans have selective memories, that’s for sure.
Bernd Leno is not a bad keeper. Far from it, but many seem to remember the 10 games Emi Martinez played well rather than the 32 Leno played before that left us terrified of being in real trouble without him when he injured his knee against Brighton.
The season before, there had been talk, albeit jokingly, of a statue for the German. That’s how much he had saved us under Emery.
Arsenal needed to sign a keeper this summer and Leno has been looking for a way out of the club for around a year.
Bringing in Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal’s plan became clear. Get a keeper in now who will be ready to be number one when Leno leaves next summer.
But after shipping nine goals in three games, Leno was shuffled off to the bench and Ramsdale given his chance.
And it’s one he has taken.
What must Emi Martinez be thinking now? Perhaps he will tell us when he’s next moaning to the media about how mistreated he was by Arsenal as he rewrites his history.
It is, however, extremely unfair to blame Leno for those heavy defeats.
I’ve always liked Leno.
He’s not a spectacular keeper, but he’s solid and generally reliable.
Ramsdale has already shown he has the talent and confidence to take himself to a much higher level than the 29-year-old, and he’s shown enough to warrant keeping the shirt for a little longer, but the decision is still an extremely tough one on Leno and it’s probably not even really his fault.
That’s clear by the fact that out of the 12 Emery brought to Arsenal during his time as head coach, only Leno, Kieran Tierney (Arsenal interest in Tierney pre-dated Emery), and Nicolas Pepe get near the starting lineup on a regular basis (until Ramsdale arrived at least).
Let’s not kid ourselves that Pepe is still at Arsenal for any other reason than the club paid such a stupid amount of money for him they feel they need to get some reward back. That’s not to say I don’t like Pepe as a player, I just feel that if Arteta had his way, Pepe wouldn’t be there.
Gabriel Martinelli is another player still at the club who was brought in under Unai Emery, although Edu was heavily involved in that deal. Emery’s involvement, however, might explain why the Brazilian has played 164 minutes so far this season, despite Arsenal’s struggle for goals.
Under Arteta, the 20-year-old, who scored 10 goals before his knee injury has played the full 90 minutes just twice since his return at the start of 2020.
While the argument could be made that some of the players Emery brought in weren’t good enough, there’s no denying some of them were far better than the players Arteta opted to keep or bring in (Salba vs Mari, for instance).
Leno will leave Arsenal next summer, if not before, that much is clear. It now seems unlikely he will leave as Arsenal’s number one.
In Germany, they are concerned about what that means for their backup national goalkeeper ahead of the Qatar World Cup.
Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, likely gives no thought to that.
Leno is Emery’s man, and that seems to be all he needs to know.