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Is Emiliano Martinez a clown or not? Should he still be wearing those colours? Emiliano Martinez has become a bit of a hate figure recently. His over-the-top antics at the World Cup have not endeared him to many fans worldwide. It was seen as disrespectful. I agree. However, he didn’t ruin a player’s career with a dangerous tackle or physically attack anyone. I suspect that Argentinians love him as he was probably the biggest reason that Lionel Messi crowned his career with the greatest prize of all. The penalty takers only have to take one, Martinez had to face all of them and he did so twice against Netherlands and France. He triumphed both times. Messi must want to have his babies. Yes, we know you love Martinez, Leo I believe he is a top keeper, though. He is the guardian of the world champions. He has done extremely well at Aston Villa and I will take a look at his record shortly. He also helped enormously in giving us our only real trophy in recent years, the FA Cup. But we let him go and in truth, successive managers have underrated him. I would choose him over Bernd Leno, Peter Cech (the version that we had, he was never the same after the bad head injury given to him by Stephen Hunt), Lucas Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina who were all first choice in his time. I think a lot of Gooners would agree with me. Life could have been so much different for Arsene Wenger if he had given him his chance. He could still be there, leading us now and celebrating our World Cup winner. Wenger still at Arsenal? How so? Well, if I am right and he is better than all the names I have mentioned then that would have translated into points for us. In Leno’s last season 2020/21 we needed 7 more points to leapfrog Chelsea for the Champions league. The year before that 2019/20, we needed 11 extra points to overtake Chelsea again. In 2018/19 we needed only 2 to jump above the Spuds. In 2017/18 we needed 13 points to climb above Liverpool. In 2016/17 we needed 2 points to throw the Spuds below us. In 2015/16 we needed 11 points to kill the Leicester dream but we were a comfortable second and in Champions league. In Martinez’s first year in the first team squad 2014/15 we would have needed 13 points to sicken Chelsea at the top but again comfortably in Champions league in 3rd. Leno - not as good as Martinez A few extra points would have got extra Champions league places and extra money which may have bought us better players and even more points. Wenger would probably still be there now as he would not have been deemed to have failed. It seems he had a blind spot about Martinez as did all the managers who came after him. History has proved them wrong as he has several trophies to his name including the biggest one. An expensive blind spot Johnny Giles famously said that manager Don Revie’s blind spot about picking goalkeeper Gary Sprake over David Harvey cost the superb Leeds team of the 60’s and 70’s many trophies. We all could see Giles was right as Sprake was very prone to errors but somehow Revie couldn’t see it. Gary Sprake - cost Leeds lots of trophies? The difference between a keeper and an outfield player is significant. If you have a top player out for Arsenal, say Partey or Saka, and you bring in Jorginho or Reiss Nelson, against most of the teams in the Premiership, they are at least as good. Elneny, Vieira, Smith Rowe etc., would walk into most Premiership teams. My point being that Arsenal should, and most likely would beat most teams even with their second choice. That is not so true about a keeper. A keeper who makes a mistake against a team who parks the bus, hoping for a breakaway and luck, could lose a match for Arsenal as I believe Leno did sometimes as he allowed himself to be bullied. A better keeper, a Ramsdale or a Martinez, would, I am convinced, have given us extra points. Martinez’s record is outstanding So, what is Martinez’s record? It is good. In the 23 matches he played for Arsenal in 2019/20, his only sustained run, he kept 9 clean sheets. For Aston Villa it is 2020/21 38 games and 15 clean sheets, very impressive for a team in the bottom half of the table. He got player of the year at Villa. In 2021/22 he played 37 times and had 11 clean sheets , extremely good for a team who were close to being relegation candidates and finished 14th. For Argentina he has 7 clean sheets out of 26 matches. The boy was far better than his managers at Arsenal believed. It is as simple as that. Ramsdale - 12 clean sheets so far this season And Leno? In a much better Arsenal side than Villa in 2020/21 he had 16 clean sheets out of 50 games. The previous year 8 clean sheets out of 33. His first year 2018/19 he had 10 clean sheets out of 38. Martinez should have been given the number one spot he deserved. Now I reckon most of us are happy with Ramsdale. He has already got 12 clean sheets this season out of 28 matches. But we have to accept that, in world rankings, Martinez has to be rated above him. His record for Argentina, with his Aston Villa player of the season thrown in: FIFA World Cup: 2022 Copa América: 2021 CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions: 2022 Individual The Best FIFA Goalkeeper: 2022 FIFA World Cup Golden Glove: 2022 Aston Villa Player of the Season: 2020–21 Copa América Golden Glove: 2021 Copa América Team of the Tournament: 2021 We made a mistake It has to be acknowledged that we let a top player go for £20m and possibly bought a lesser player for £30m. However, he still may turn out to be the best choice. I certainly hope so. I would like to see Gnabry now in our colours Blind spots in not recognising your best players can cost points. Arteta got that wrong as Leno was not as good as Martinez. Wenger, Emery and Ljungberg also made this mistake about Martinez. Wenger also failed to recognise Gnabry’s abilities but I think that was partly due to Gnabry’s attitude. Once he buckled down to serious work at Bayern Munich he proved himself. Wenger didn’t let too many go that he regretted, in fairness. I hope Arteta is the same. We seem to have a lot of talented youngsters coming through, we need to keep the best of them and to do that, we have to play them or risk them going. Arteta will be extremely tested as a manager in the coming seasons, but one thing he cannot afford to do is not realise who our best players are. I have faith that the Martinez situation has been a learning one that Arteta has quietly understood. The keeper position is the most crucial one in the team, in my opinion. I feel and hope we have got it right in Ramsdale. But let's get back to Martinez: I hear his ambition is to be the world's best goalkeeper and he is a long way towards that in winning the World Cup and FIFA Best goalkeeper. I suspect in the summer the big boys will come calling, the giants of European football. He could still have many more years to go and his penchant for saving penalties will have them salivating. He could do it, you know? Many Arsenal players such as Martinelli (who is Brazilian and they have big rivalry with Argentina) say Martinez was always a gentleman and very helpful to everyone. And hey, after ten bleak years at Arsenal, he finally scored for us. Thank you very much, Emi!
Jesus, Martinelli Brazil World rank 1 Paddy Power 4/1 Saliba, France World rank 3 Paddy Power 6/1 Saka, White, Ramsdale England World rank 5 Paddy Power 8/1 Xhaka, Switzerland World rank 14 Paddy Power 90/1 Turner, USA World rank 15 Paddy Power 125/1 Tomiyasu, Japan World rank 23 Paddy Power 300/1 Partey, Ghana World rank 60 Paddy Power 300/1 No Saka in the picture? Why is that? Arsenal come out on top And so can Arsenal win the World Cup? Of course, I don’t mean the actual trophy but an Arsenal player or players get a winners medal? Judging by various metrics it is certainly possible. Above are the players going and their countries ratings according to 2 different metrics – World ranking and betting odds. By those guides we have a chance. I suspect it is fair to say that only the first 3 countries have a chance, for the others it would be as big a shock as if Arsenal win the Premiership. Ah, only joking, Arsenal are, however, a massive 11/2 to win despite being clear at the top. That figure would put us ahead of France and England winning the World Cup as possibilities, though. But we do have 3 teams rated in the top 5 by ranking, and in betting. Argentina at 11/2 are 2nd but 4th in world rankings and Spain at 7/1 are in 4th but 7th in rankings.. Amazingly Belgium are ranked 2nd but are way higher in the betting at 18/1. We don’t have any Belgian players at the World Cup unless an injury brings Lokonga in late. A new winner? I have to say one thing here now and that is we rarely get a new winner and that is reflected in the betting. Belgium have never won it and are banished to the outer regions but all of the winners at some time were new winners so do not let that put you off if you fancied them nor even the team I regard as our best Arsenal outsiders, Switzerland at 90/1. If Xhaka’s team come through their group, which I expect although Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon will provide strong opposition, they will then avoid Brazil in subsequent rounds. They could be a good each way bet although it is very hard to see them winning it. Croatia almost did last time out, though, and there is often a surprise team in the semi’s. There definitely was in the USA in 1994 but I can’t remember the name of the team. Just joking! Only 8 teams have won it and Italy are not here. Uruguay have been eclipsed by Brazil and Argentina and do not look likely to win but the other six are the top six in the betting – Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, England and, perhaps surprisingly Germany are the final one at 10/1. Could be good value but we don’t have any Germans any more BFG or not. A non-playing medal? Jesus and Martinelli then are our best chance. Will they play? It is hard to say but it doesn’t look good. They would need to get a chance and take it. They may get a go as a sub if Brazil are struggling and if they come on and help them to win, well you never know. But the competition is strong and it doesn’t look very good. A non-playing medal is of course more likely. Saliba: Our top chance? France and Saliba have to have a great chance. Saliba has already played 7 times for them this season and I feel he will play. Their group looks winnable with Denmark, Tunisia and Australia and Mbappe, Griezman and Benzema always give you a chance. I reckon Saliba is our best chance of actually playing in the final and winning. England? Surely a big shocker if they fail to get out of their group with the USA, Wales and Iran. They have been stuttering, though, and it will definitely be the end of Southgate if that happens. Can they win it? I just don’t see it, to be honest, they have too many players with mistakes in them. However if they do, Saka will most likely play and possibly Ben White if he is given a chance and shines. Verdict – a maybe but I believe if they do, Saka will be on the pitch for the final. None of our players get a chance for the big teams? France are my tip to win it. Strangely enough, for the big teams, all our players are doubts, even Saka and Saliba. The competition is strong. This does not apply to the rest of our players as they will certainly play if fit. Can the lower players win it? The betting and their rankings say no. The lowest ranked team to ever win it was France in 1998 at 18 but look at that side, full to the brim of extraordinary players including several Arsenal legends. Their ranking was a joke as they often are. Many teams are in there now beyond 32 in the rankings with Ghana at 60 the lowest. Does not look good for Partey, does it? Still, Portugal might implode with Ronaldo, and Uruguay and South Korea look beatable. Get through the group and you never know. But a quarterfinal would be a surprise. Partey's Ghana could surprise As it would be for Tomiyasu’s Japan. Spain, Germany and Costa Rica stand in their way and it seems a mountain too high. We won’t see him lifting any medal. The USA could be dark horses Turner will play as he has cemented his spot with the USA and I think they have a good chance of getting out of their group as England could well stumble, Wales are unpredictable and Iran are well lower than them in the betting at 500/1 to the USA 125/1. Wales are also 125/1. The USA have often done well in World Cups and could be a surprise package. I feel that quarterfinals are their best hope, though. I don’t see Turner holding a medal but you never know. They do have players such as Pulisic of Chelsea who are playing at the highest level. Turner - Can the USA win in an airconditioned stadium? My conclusion is that Saliba represents our best chance of playing and winning. Jesus and Martinelli our best chance of winners medals and probably not playing. England probably won’t make it. Xhaka as our best outside chance. Brazil- always a great chance It would be great to see England or Brazil do it with all our boys playing, and World Cups always throw up players who shine though not going there as first choice, it could be Arsenal’s turn to have such players for Brazil or England. I really hope our 10 players play and show the world what it is to be Arsenal, to play with skill and abandon and that we have at least one player a winner in the final. Then Arsenal would be on top of the world. Let’s do it, Arsenal!