Emiliano Martinez Scout Report
Suspension and injury to their first and second-choice goalkeeper meant that Arsenal had to count on a 22-year-old in a crucial Champions League clash with Anderlecht. Thankfully for the Gunners, Emiliano Martínez repaid Arsene Wenger’s trust in him by putting in a solid performance against the Belgian side on Wednesday. But who is the 22-year-old shot stopper? Is he a future No.1? Does he have what it takes to convince the Gunners faithful and Wenger to give him a prolonged run in the team?
Damián Emiliano Martinez was born in Mar Del Plata, a city south of Buenos Aires in 1992. Like most Argentineans, Emiliano Martinez turned to football in his formative years. He joined the Independiente youth academy aged 15, before moving to Arsenal in 2009. His move to the Gunners itself was one that created confusion in the player’s mind as he thought that he was moving to the Primera League side Arsenal de Sarandí, nicknamed El Arse and not the English club.
But once that confusion was cleared, he joined the club in the summer of 2009, still aged only 16 and work permit issues meant that he was immediately loaned back to his former club. He returned to Arsenal only to be sent out on an emergency loan to Oxford United in May 2012. The 2012/13 season saw him make his Arsenal debut in the 6-1 win over Coventry City in the League Cup in September 2012. He went out on loan again next season to Sheffield Wednesday before returning to Arsenal this summer. He was on the bench in the Community Shield win over Manchester City and made his season and European debut on Wednesday in the 2-1 win over Anderlecht.
Style of Play
Standing at 6’4, the Argentinean shot-stopper towers above most of his defenders. His slim physique means that he is more than capable of running around, stopping shots, while at the same time coming out for crosses and collecting the ball. Like most Arsenal keepers, Damian has been brought up on the principle of passing rather than clearing, so the Argentinean is good with his feet.
Damian’s biggest strength is undoubtedly his shot-stopping abilities, whether it is from close range or from distance. His large frame means that he can easily cover the goal and not only is he tall, but very agile as well, which makes it easier when it comes to saving shots. Another strength of the 22-year-old is his distribution. The fact that he can pick out a teammate both short or long makes it easy for the side to either start attacks or counter-attacks and get at the opposition a lot quicker.
The game against Reading in which he conceded 5 goals and scored an own goal as well showed that if he is put under pressure, he can crumble. Even against Anderlecht, although he did well, there was a sense that, if the finishing had been better, he would’ve been beaten. As goalkeepers mature slower, it might just be natural or if it isn’t his composure and concentration is something that he must clearly work on.
With Arsenal current wafer thin on goal keepers, the 22-year-old is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. Having already played in the lower leagues though, it wouldn’t be particularly surprising if he does move in January, when Arsenal’s goalkeeping woes are sorted.
22 was previously considered to be a very young age for a goalkeeper. But in the recent past, the likes of David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois have shown that if you are good enough, then you are old enough. Moving to Arsenal at just 16, when he hadn’t even fully grown didn’t help Damian Martinez, but now that he is old enough, he must make the most of his current opportunities or if he doesn’t find any at the Emirates, find a place where he will, because the last thing he would want to do, is to warm the benches, particularly being a goalkeeper.