The strange story of Leno, Martinez, Ramsdale and an out-of-work Spurs player

By Sir Hardly Anyone

The media’s aim is to make Arsenal look stupid and to suggest that they (the media) know more than the lollipops running the club.  It’s not a conspiracy, just a cheap way of filling the media space, and since the fans get little news from the club, this makes some fans feel that via the media they have access to what is really going on.

By way of example, Arsenal sell a player who is rather good (we’ll call him Emi Martinez but there are many other examples).  The media then suggest he is better than the man we have kept.

When we have had enough of that story we are told that “Arsenal need to trim their hefty wage bill”   (Guardian, Telegraph October 2020, Football.London January 2021, Independent  January 2021, Metro January 2021, Sun February 2021 etc etc etc).

Then, the money-saving story is dropped and instead we are told stupid Arsenal are a year later going to replace Martinez with a less good player.   

But what really happened?

First, we have to remember that Martinez, having replaced Leno when Leno was injured, did very well, and quite reasonably felt he had established that he was ready for first team football.  He did not want to continue as backup.

Thus the club had to decide whether to keep Martinez (who had broken into the Argentine team and thus would be travelling a lot to and from South America),  or Leno (who was backup keeper in Germany).

Then the suggestion came along that Arsenal were signing a keeper who was actually serving a one year ban for drugs offences and so would not be able to play until November) – and after that the goal keeper from Sheffield United.  And through all this was the assumption that Arsenal had, yet again, as always, got it wrong.

We can’t compare Leno with the banned keeper, because he was, well, banned, but we can compare the three PL clubs in this story quite easily…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
8 Arsenal 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61
11 Aston Villa 38 16 7 15 55 46 9 55
20 Sheffield United 38 7 2 29 20 63 -43 23

Clearly the two alternative keepers each let in more goals than Leno and his deputies.  But we can see both alternatives were in teams playing a very different style of football last season from Arsenal.

Team Tackles Fouls Yellow cards
Arsenal 456 345 47
Aston Villa 530 439 63
Sheffield Utd 634 459 73

So what we can see that Martinez was protected by a much more tackling and fouling orientated team, than at Arsenal.  And yet despite this still conceded more goals.  As for Aaron Ramsdale at Sheffield United, he was protected by tackling on an industrial scale (Sheff U put in 39% more tackles than Arsenal and let in 61% more goals!).

It is always difficult to make direct comparisons, but those who maintain that Martinez was better than Leno put in no evidence at all, aside from mentioning a few mistakes that Leno made – without any consideration of the errors Martinez made.   So we just have the figures, and on such figures as we have, Arsenal kept the better keeper.  For the Sheffield man to be worthy of consideration, the argument would have to be that quite simply none of last season was his fault.

Now of course none of the media bothered with the detail above, but instead Jamie O’Hara proclaimed that Arsenal were “a mess”.

The Mirror put it this way, “The Gunners had possessed a solid back-up in Emiliano Martinez, but allowed him to join Aston Villa in a £20million deal….”

According to talkSPORT, Arsenal are “set to go ‘all in’ for Ramsdale.”

So let’s think about Martinez and Arsenal “allowing him” to go.  Clubs have reputations among players, and players talk to each other about what life is like with different clubs.  If Arsenal had held on to Martinez against his wishes, that would have harmed their reputation among players, and lost them the transfer fee when he left at the end of his contract on a free.  

Instead the deal made Martinez the 12th most expensive keeper in Premier League history.  If those add-ons come to fruition (and since Martinez played every league game for Villa, I am sure they have been) he is the ninth most expensive keeper in PL history.

Which is not bad business for Arsenal in selling a keeper who had played just 15 Premier League games.

Meanwhile we have Leno, Germany’s second choice keeper, and he performed in the third best defence in the Premier League last season.  But the media instead defined this as a problem and thus having said it was a problem, they then came up with “a solution”, as when the Mirror said, “The man Arteta wants to provide that solution is Aaron Ramsdale…  The Gunners are understood to be lining up a £30m bid for the England international, which has led to O’Hara blasting their decision making.”

We might have some suspicions concerning all this when the person talksprout got to discuss this was not a manager, nor even a goalkeeper, but a former Tottenham midfielder talking to the radio station that has made its audience out of knocking Arsenal.

Then following that the Mirror’s website ran a special piece in which readers were invited to discuss if Ramsdale will be successful at Arsenal.

Of course some of the media could have called out TalkSport for creating the story, but if they started doing that, the whole edifice of make-believe tales would start to crumble.  97% of transfer stories created each summer for the last five summers have proven to be untrue (which is around a staggering 450 rumours), and that failure rate is not something they want to publicise.  So, run the story, then forget it. That’s how it goes.

How referees influence games 



8 Replies to “The strange story of Leno, Martinez, Ramsdale and an out-of-work Spurs player”

  1. Spurs fan here. I rate Martinez higher than Leno so don’t know what is the reason you did otherwise. Just why didn’t you sell Leno to Aston villa? They were not interested in Leno?

  2. Overcspurs: Leno was a much more experienced player; Martinez had had one good spell. Clearly both expected to be first choice keeper, and Leno had proven himself over time. So it seems to me a perfectly valid choice at that time. And still looks quite reasonable, given Arsenal’s very good performance in the last two thirds of last season, after the new tactics were established, and tackling cut to a minimum.

  3. That’s not what the article is about Nez. But we have dealt with it in great detail on this site. The first third of last season (until Christmas Day) was very poor for Arsenal and the club dropped to 15th. During this time Arsenal were instituting a totally new tactical approach which saw the level of tackles undertaken drop dramatically, thus cutting the yellow cards given against Arsenal by 40%. During this spell Arsenal lost nine league matches including to Villa, Manchester City, Leicester, Tottenham and Liverpool.
    After Christmas, the defeats declined, and although we continued losing games, only one was by more than one goal. So the second defeat against Villa was within the pattern of losing by a single goal. But I can see why you recall it. It was the first time Villa had beaten Arsenal twice in a season since 1992/3 – so yes, a memorable moment.

  4. Well I never, a Spurs fan “rated” Martinelli above Leno. What fools all the qualified, experienced professionals at Arsenal are not to have realised they knew nothing and that all they needed to do was ask a Spurs fan what they should do……………………

  5. Martinez came into the team for the last 8 1/2 league matches and let in 7 goals I believe.
    Also he played in various cup games and always looked assured . I think the reason for his leaving was because he felt quite rightly in my opinion that on his return Leno should have had to play for his place .
    However as soon as he was told that he was back on the bench he decided to go and get first team football on a regular basis. I don’t blame him .
    Apart from making us lose a good keeper it has allowed Leno to become complacent as there is no-one to push him for the place.
    Unfortunate but it’s done now and all we can hope for is that another keeper comes into the squad because should Leno get injured we are going to be in panic stations because Runarsson doesn’t inspire too much confidence and Hein and Owonkwo are not ready.

  6. Why would we spend £30M on Aaron Ramsdale? His distribution is really poor. Would rather we went for the Brazil number 3 Ivan Da Silva who’s really good with the ball at his feet ,a decent shot stopper and would cost half the cost of Ramsdale. Moot point re Martinez as that boat has sailed and Leno has no real competition at this moment. I can’t see Ramsdale developing into real competition for Leno but would love to be surprised. Plus for Ramsdale is he is English!

  7. The simplicity of the situation was that Martinez was unhappy being number 2 at Arsenal. He wanted to move on after years of training and being groomed for the first team.

    His performances in the few games before being sold was excellent. That was no reason to move positions in the goalkeeping hierarchy. Leno may not appeal to everyone but his stature has held him in good stead. Personally, I preferred Martinez but I am not an insider seeing all the aspects that make a choice goalkeeper. As far as keepers in other teams, I have a strong liking for WBA’s Sam Jonstone who will probably improve if coached at Arsenal.

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