Arsenal keeper to be replaced by 8 year old who’s never played football

By Sir Hardly Anyone

That headline is bonkers – at least I suspect it is, because I just made it up.  But recently we have had Leno being replaced at Arsenal by

a) A keeper who is banned until November on drugs offences (a deal that was going to be sealed in June according to The Sun)

b) A keeper who let in more goals than any other in the premier league (according to the Sun)

c) The Newcastle keeper who could be got in exchange for Willock. (according to HITC – not sure why the Sun didn’t get that one).

Now of course it may be that Leno has had enough of Arsenal – or quite possibly the way he has been treated by the English media who have utterly refused to acknowledge that Leno 

  1. Was part of the third best defence in the league last season.
  2. Was part of the second best defence in the league for the last two thirds of the season (that is the period after the total remodelling of the way the defence played).
  3. Was the second keeper in Germany’s squad this summer in the Euros – and Germany is quite a big country with quite a lot of interest in football, and therefore quite a lot of goalkeepers.

The justification for Leno going primarily seems to be the argument that we sold the wrong keeper by letting Emi Martinez in September 2020.  He subsequently played all 38 games in the 2020/21 season for Villa.  Bernd Leno played 35 out of 38 games for Arsenal last season.  So we can compare…

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

So we can compare and see that if anything Arsenal kept the better keeper and there is also little to suggest why we might want to take the Sheffield United man – although of course keeping goals out is not all down to the keeper.

As you will know if you are a regular here, Arsenal took their time adjusting to a radical new approach to defending last season, one that saw Arsenal’s tackling drop by 22%, their fouls drop by 18% and their yellow cards drop by 45%.

These figures were utterly different for Aston Villa and Sheffield United who saw their tackling level rise.

So it is also not surprising that if we look at the league table for the last 24 games of the season – which is just over the last two thirds of the campaign, Arsenal, having got the new defensive system working, did rather well.

But how did Aston Villa do with Martinez?

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
Manchester City 24 20 0 4 62 20 42 60
Arsenal 24 14 5 5 43 21 22 47
Aston Villa 24 8 5 11 27 32 -5 29

In fact as you can see, across the last two thirds of the season Arsenal matched Manchester City in terms of defence, letting in just one more goal.  Our problem was that we drew five games and City drew none during that period.

But comparing us and Villa during that last 24 games of the season, we can see that our defence was significantly superior to Villa and indeed our whole performance was 18 points better.

Now the defence is more than the keeper, but the keeper is a fundamental part of the defence, and the argument in the media – and it spreads across almost all the media from the tiniest blog you’ve never heard of to the major daily papers – is that a) Arsenal sold the wrong keeper and b) Leno is a liability.

Yet Leno played in all but three of the League games last season.  Across the last two thirds of the season we had the second best defence and and across the whole season we had the third best defence.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 38 27 5 6 83 32 51 86
4 Chelsea 38 19 10 9 58 36 22 67
8 Arsenal 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61
3 Liverpool 38 20 9 9 68 42 26 69
2 Manchester United 38 21 11 6 73 44 29 74
7 Tottenham Hotspur 38 18 8 12 68 45 23 62
11 Aston Villa 38 16 7 15 55 46 9 55

The above table has the league in the order of the goals conceded.

So the questions remain.  Why replace Leno with a keeper who is currently banned on drugs offences, or the keeper from Sheffield United or anyone else?  Has Germany got it wrong?   Have Arsenal got it wrong?

Or did someone make up the story of Arsenal wanting to kick Leno out and replace him by the Ajax keeper who is banned, as a joke, which other journalists took up on the grounds that the desire to knock Arsenal all day every day is so strong that people will believe any anti-Arsenal story, no matter how bizarre or stupid?

I rather think it was.  And a lot of people fell for it.

How to save football

19 Replies to “Arsenal keeper to be replaced by 8 year old who’s never played football”

  1. You are so right! We should all put our full support behind Leno. He’s been great!
    Everything looking good for the new season.
    We need to just write the positives constantly, as opposed to just reacting to the negatives. A positive article written in it’s own right will get readers on a positive theme. An article written to refute a fake claim will give extra traction to that fake claim as well as explaining that it isn’t true.
    In my opinion, we need to just write a whole load of positive articles all the time and then people will read them and the positivity will grow.

    However, I do think it’s important also to write articles about PGMOL and their bias because that gives publicity to the corruption, which is also very important.

    A lot of people will only read the headlines of your article and think it is a joke but along the right lines. In other words they will think ha, ha, that’s funny…but Arsenal really do have to sort out their keeper situation. What a joke they are.

    The media copy articles from other sites. If we write positive articles with a bit of punch, they will get copied and the media bias may disappear. Surely that’s the way it really works.

  2. In 2019 -20 Villa conceded 67 goals and last season 46. Conceding 35% less goals with Martinez in goal. Arsenal conceded 39 last season and t was obvious from any sighted person watching both Martinez and Leno that Martinez was better. Do Arsenal need a new, better keeper, yes. Are any of the goalkeepers from relegated sides the answer, no.

  3. Luke, we can always say regarding any position that Arsenal need a better player. But finding one and persuading him to come to Arsenal when the media, and indeed many fans, are so anti-Arsenal and all it has done, is going to be tough.

  4. I completely agree except we had a better plater and let him go and now we seem to be pursuing inferior players for more than we sold Martinez for!

  5. What everyone appears to overlook is that it wasn’t AFC’s decision whether Martinez stayed or went to Villa. Clearly he was making demands that the club found unacceptable, so he chose to leave.

  6. Luke H
    It is only your opinion, not fact as you appear to imply, that Martinez is better than Leno and it is only your opinion that Leno needs replacing. I have good eyesight and it is not obvious to me that Martinez is superior than Leno.
    Your opinion on both goalkeepers is obviously not shared by those at Arsenal FC who know infinitely more about the relevant qualities of both Martinez and Leno than you do.
    Your opinion about Leno is obviously not shared by the German national team manager Joachim Löw either who picks him regularly as number two goalkeeper in his squads. As Tony says, what do the Germans know about football.
    Ukesox is quite right in saying that the decision to sell Martinez was made to satisfy his desire, after nine years of waiting in the wings, to be first choice goalkeeper. He apparently felt he had more chance of guaranteed playing time at Villa and Arsenal (probably reluctantly, only my opinion) agreed to let him leave. You form your opinion (there is that word again) of Martinez from a very limited number of games at the end of the season whereas Leno has been a top keeper (my opinion as well as Arteta, Edu and Joachim Löw’s) for a number of seasons.
    I have a lot more faith in the actions and decisions of a host of professional football people than I do the uninformed opinion of an amateur such as yourself.

  7. Don’t believe it was unreasonable of him to believe that following his performances whilst Leno was injured that he should retain the shirt when the season started and that Leno should have to wait for his chance to get it back.
    If he was told that no matter what he was back on the bench immediately , no wonder he wanted to leave .
    The question of who is better is subjective , in my opinion Leno is probably the better shot stopper but Martinez is better at organising his defence and is definitely better coming for the ball from crosses , catching instead of flapping . I believe that our defence looked calmer with him than Leno .
    If we could not have kept them both I would have thought that true competition for the place would have identified which one to keep .

  8. Mick, Good points but Leno, Germany in decline, only number 2 whilst Martinez Argentina on the up is their number 1 and has just helped them win Copa America for first time in donkey’s years. Martinez improves the teams he plays for. Notwithstanding that we conceded fewer goals per game when Martinez was playing instead of Leno. I like Leno, I rate Leno but you’re right its my opinion having seen both of them in person and the data supporting my view I think Martinez is the better keeper and we should have done more to keep him.

  9. @ Luke H

    You say we should have done more to keep Martinez. That would have been nice as he might well have been the best reserve keep in the Premiership……in my opinion.

    What I would like to know from you is, what did Arsenal do to try and keep him? What were his personal demands of the club? Were any of these demands unreasonable? Did he in fact force Arsenal into selling him? Was he becoming disruptive in the dressing room or unsettling other players? What should Arsenal have done to keep him? And would it have been wise to do so if those demands had a detrimental effect on other players. These questions are all rhetorical, of course, because you have no idea of what was said or done behind closed doors in the same way as you are not a professional goalkeeping coach.

    I appreciate you have an opinion and I too believe it was sad to see Martinez leave but your opinion is simply that. By way of analogy I don’t consult a bloke down the pub who watches tv documentaries on medical procedures if I am in need of surgery, similarly I don’t put any stock by the opinions of the untrained, unqualified and inexperienced amateur in terms of football. Football “journalists”, game commentators and pundits are bad enough ffs.

    I have opinions on football but I am also 100% certain that my opinions, however strongly held, more often than not bear no relation to the facts. As mick shelley says, on what grounds could any fan believe their opinion to be more valid than that of Arteta, Edu and Joachim Löw’s?

  10. Look Martinez is water under the bridge but to say that just because they are who they are , their opinion is always right .
    During my career I worked for many people in management that made bad decisions along with the good ones . Nobody is infallable and often opinions are formed on first impression and no matter what follows that nagging doubt remains.
    Opinion is what makes the world go round and in football there is no right or wrong until the result is on the board .
    At the moment Leno has the shirt and supposedly we are looking at bringing another keeper in but unless there is true competition for the place , we are unlikely to get more than just a suitable stop gap.

  11. Martinez alleges, and I’ve no reason to disbelieve him (interview for Argentine tv before Copa America) , that he asked who would be Number 1 and could not get an answer. The club wanted to keep him but he needed some certainty. Villa took advantage of this guaranteeing him number one so he went. He also said he felt Villa were as big as Arsenal (an opinion I don’t share but I’m just an amateur). As I ‘ve said it’s my opinion and if someone, anyone can show me something, anything to show Leno is better I’ll happily admit I’m wrong. I might point out that Arsenal have a wonderful scouting system, I know as my son has worked with them for some years, but we don’t have a great track record with goalkeepers with the most recent example being Runar Alex Runarsson with the experts getting it seriously wrong. Lovely man but not good enough to be a number two at Arsenal. Or would you opine he’s a top keeper? I respect your view, whatever you do for a living, I wonder why you can’t respect mine?

  12. Mike H I am not sure about this not respecting views, but I’ll say as a general point I respect opinions based on facts and serious analysis above those that are opinions. Clearly after Leno’s long injury and the excellent performances by Martinez the club had to decide which of the two keepers to keep as first choice, knowing that the other would probably leave – that is what happens. So they made a choice. Maybe right maybe not, but they had more data for Leno to go with which probably was part of the influence.

  13. It’s not about respecting opinions because by and large all of us who comment on untold are amateurs so pretty much all our opinions are equally valid.

    So assuming all opinions are equal we need something else to validate, strengthen or give credibility to your opinion. That is why I like this site so much. It is not enough to say ‘I see, I think, therefore it is’ you need more than that, you need statistics, data, evidence, you know, pesky stuff like that.

    I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest Leno is a poor goalkeeper or indeed that Martinez is a better keeper and until someone shows me some I’ll stick with my ‘opinion’ that Leno is a great goalkeeper and Arsenal poses the statistics to suggest he’s better than Martinez.

    I await the evidence Mr H

  14. Luke H
    We are all entitled to have and air our opinions, no argument there but you tried to justify yours by saying …
    ‘it was obvious from any sighted person watching both Martinez and Leno that Martinez was better.’
    The implication being that anyone who didn’t agree with you was somehow either blind or was maybe a bit stupid to not be able to see what was patently obvious to you.
    Well no, it was not obvious to me and I am neither blind nor stupid, and I object to being judged as either.
    Incidentally are Luke H and Mike H one and the same?

  15. @ Mike (Luke?) H

    You state, “As I ‘ve said it’s my opinion and if someone, anyone can show me something, anything to show Leno is better I’ll happily admit I’m wrong.”

    How about the fact that highly qualified, experienced professionals who worked alongside the two goalkeepers day in day out made a decision which neither you nor I would have any idea how to make in the professional game?

  16. This article, to me, actually presented one sided statistical facts, which are not all there is to judge goalkeeper quality and performance.
    Sir Hardly Anyone did not mention fact that Leno came behind 5 goalkeepers in keeping cleansheet. His performance during the first third was not compared for us.
    During 2018/ 20 seasons before Emiliano completed 2020/21 season was when I realised that Bernad cannot take Arsenal to top, then I watched many of the games or some highlights and discovered that Leno was not focused/settled in early minutes of most games, he was conceding first in most of the matches. Then would later in the game become best player on the field, but most those standout were too late.
    My thought when Martinez was sold was that, Arsenal would need more than £20mil to replace him, but what a surprise, like a cat from the hat, they brought an international, 2nd choice like Leno, just a make-up the number, not a competition. So Arteta was never interested in creating a fair competitive atmosphere for Bernd and Leno. That is the example of how decisions are now being made at Arsenal.

  17. Correction please,
    Emiliano completed 2019/20 season in Bernd absence.
    ……never interested in ….competitive atmosphere for Bernd and Emiliano.

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