Since his semifinal heroic display against Colombia on the way to become the America’s champion, Emiliano Martinez has somewhat received praise from all angle among the media and fellow player all over the world.
However, it was a journey with a simple injury with Arsenal’s first choice goal keeper, Bernd Leno toward the end of 2019/2020 season, the Argentine with little or no opportunity at all the North London club seized his opportunity with a golden hand, while he constantly provides base for Arsenal to advance while they eventually qualify for the Europa League through their FA Cup triumph against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium despite their shaky start to their season.
Although, the story actually began in 2010 when the teenage Argentine left his region to put his professional trust in the hand of the London Club and despite the Gunners always having issue with their goal keeping department despite boasting of some great goalkeepers such Petr Cech, Wojciech Szczesny, among other goal keepers that have come through their rank.
In fact, the struggle for the former Arsenal shot stopper compound further as the spot that the little Argentine was vying for in a team is only meant for one player, thus it will even be more difficult to achieve. But with his track record and shot stopping capabilities, the Argentine is on course to be among the Premier League Greatest Goalkeepers.
However, the Argentine in his interview emphasize that “At some point during a loan spell at Getafe, I stopped loving football because the talent that I had, I could not show it to anyone.”
“Talent is not enough. It’s a mental game. You have to deal with frustration when you don’t play, you have to deal with the pressure. There are no excuses.”
However, beyond the mental lies the innate ability that drive the Villa Park team to successful campaign in the last Premier League as he challenges the eventually Premier League champion and UEFA Champions League custodians to the Premier League golden glove with series saves and clean sheets in the process, until the last couple of games.
To even consider the Argentina custodian as one of the best goal keeper in the last premier league campaign is an absolute underestimation of what the 28-year-old Argentina international brought to the Aston Villa defense.
Despite the amount of shot he faced during the campaign, the Argentina hero at the just concluded Copa America kept a save percentage of almost 80.0%, while he recorded goals-against with an average goal conceded of just a little over one goal per game.
But with his top class performance and whopping save percentage with the way he drive the Aston Villa that to struggle to retain their Premier League status in the previous season makes him a contender not just for the best goal keeper of the season but the deal of the season considering the fact that many had thought that the Gunners had cheated the Villans with the £17 million bargain to let him go in September 2020, has left most of his doubters from last season feeling a little hot under the collar.
He has greatly exceeded many of the pundit and bookie expectations, and he’s made everyone looked a fool in their thought for referring to his quality as good form rather than something inherent and special.
Game after game, week after and month after month, the Argentine is making all the doubter believe until everyone steadfastly became a worshipper of the talent imbedded in the diminutive custodian while his song of praise wouldn’t depart from a monstrous Argentina captain as Lionel Messi even describe the goal keeper as a “special talent”
However, below are the qualities that set the Argentina international apart from the rest.
Reflex and Diving
With a height of about 6ft and 4”, the Aston Villa goalkeeper is taller than average goalkeeper all over the world and his ability to dive accurately and timely set him apart from the rest.
And with an impressive high diving saves, Emiliano Martinez ability to use his both hand, couple with his comfortableness is highly underrated and underappreciated by the media and writer.
More so, his ability to keep clean sheets concurrently is beyond his defensive nuance but his innate ability to save what other goal keeper would have let is another reason he is so special.
Emi Martínez is quite formidable in plucking high shots out of the air while he further maintains control of them as he lands on the ground. Although, many would have parried or turn many shots like that into corner kick or parry the ball back into play, the Argentine hero is comfortable at catching very high shots when the opportunity present itself in such case.
Thus, such diving and reflexes help teammates as it makes it easier for his team to transition their defense into attack and maybe strike the opponent on counter-attack, and in such situations, his teammates wouldn’t have to hurried back to clear loose balls away from opponent attack, nor will they have to worry about gearing themselves for a corner kick, with which the ball is safe in the hand of their custodian.
In fact, the Argentine diving skillset is beyond his height advantage, while there has been importance to reflexes and techniques that ensure s that the Villans custodian goes into making eye catching dives and on-air saves.
A Very Good Handy custodian
Been a top quality goal keeper mean one must be a use of hand because it is the primary tool that all goal keeper must be able to use very well and Emiliano Martinez makes vey good use of his hand and he is an exceptional well-rounder saver of the ball.
Even with his height, while he dives to save the on-air ball, his ability to go down and save the on-ground balls is beyond metric.
But his shot stopping ability is one of the best things after legendary Petr Cech of 2004/2005 season. However, what sound as the most impressive about Martinez ability is the comfortability and how he makes those impressive saves with his hand either of his bottom and top hands, or either his left or right hand, while he makes it look ordinary.
More importantly, any topnotch goalkeeper or good goalkeeper will understand the use of hand variety techniques to make a diving saves throughout their career because it is the basic tool for their role.
But for some custodians, they price to be a preference as to which hand, they like making high diving saves with due to their dominant hand or weaker one while it guides them to make a high diving halt to the potential goal bound placement of the ball or a thunderbolt shot from an opponent attacking force, whether they prefer using their top hand or their bottom hand to make a high diving stop.
Even his ability to keep both hand usage in balance is out of this world – the dominant hand always plays a major role in the goal keeper ability to dive in a particular manner as seen in Iker Casillas and Gigi Buffon in their prime.
While the earlier is comfortable in diving to the left and making solid saves with his left hand but weak in opposite direction in diving and saving and later too makes such instance as right-handed goalkeeper (although they make some impressive save and dive with their weaker hand) but their inability to stay consistent with gives the player an impression on where to send them in a match, although such an elegant goalkeeper like them make up for their weaker hand and dive withy great positioning, but with Emi Martinez, his ability with both and is outrageous and absolutely beyond a verb.
Shot stopping and rebound control
Like any other goalkeeper, Emi Martinez is one of the only players on the field that can make use of their hand either to control the ball or touch the ball in all. Thus, it means that he can use his hand to control the ball in a direction best suitable to him like any other goalkeeper.
Although, Martinez’s diving catches are a great controlling technique, that makes it seems to natural and easy, but one of the most impressive thing about the Argentina shot stopper is his ability to control the rebound in general – this term is often thrown in the air than normal to describe custodians on how often they can make a save a catch the ball or to which direction do they often parry the rebounds to or how well do they ensure that the goal bound saves or shots are prevented from entering their net and many more.
Even, as most topnotch shot stopper in the world have a good understanding of how to prevent unnecessary rebounds or goal creating scenarios, some elite goalkeepers do such a fantastic job in handling heavy shots, while they made it makes it look so simple in the way they adjust their body and balance their techniques to ensure that unnecessary rebound is rebuff off their goal post – which makes many wonder if such goalkeepers have no other mentality or were they from another planet while they disguise in human form.
However, Emiliano Martinez is one of those elite goalkeepers that made such difficult instances looks so ordinary!
Positioning and focus
Another thing that makes the elite goalkeeper stand out is their positional awareness to easily dealt with any ball that might put the team in danger – either from loose ball or a direct volley toward the goalkeeping net.
In fact, this is the skillset that set the 28-year-old Argentine apart from been an ordinary elite custodian by a man with a special talent.
Like Manuel Neuer – a goal goalkeeper that’ll save most ball coming to him before it even reaches his side with simplicity of positioning and vision. Thus, the German makes all the ball looks so ordinary, while he mostly prevents himself from diving unnecessarily.
Like Neuer, like Martinez, the Argentines positioning nuance is literarily a blessing to behold, while he dived on many occasions unlike the German rock, this can easily be attributed to the caliber of defense structure he had to work with compare to the Bayern standard.
Nevertheless, the Villan custodian positioning makes it easy for him to establish a power and direction which enables him to make a very good diving catches on air or ground, or a good place for rebound controlling and a perfect stance for reflexes.
Moreover, all goalkeepers which to possess these qualities but not all are versatile and still keeps their composure though focus and unwavering concentrations. This in another ways manifest in his heroic performance against Colombia in the recent Copa America semifinal match that enable him to save three penalties in four attempts against him. Such, composure and focus could only be attributed to the Italian great goalkeeper, Francesco, Toldo.
With all these innate characteristic and charted evidence, it is unsure that the diminutive shot stopper picked this up during his time at the North London Club as the trend of the team goalkeeping woes makes it more obvious – and Martinez might been plying his trade at the Villa Park at the moment and he might have come to the limelight very late, but the Argentine is definitely destined for a great future like other great goalkeepers who have come before him and still possess less of the abundant talent that the Argentine have. No wonder he is truly not just an elite goalkeeper, he is a special talent.