Martin Keown names the Unai Emery signing who has been a ‘success story’ for Arsenal

Unai Emery had a mixed record in the transfer market during his time at Arsenal
Unai Emery had a mixed record in the transfer market during his time at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Martin Keown has hailed Mikel Arteta’s decision to axe Emiliano Martinez from his Europa League side and go with his trusted No.1 Bernd Leno.

The much-travelled Martinez, who has been out on loan at six different clubs during his time at Arsenal, had been given a chance to establish himself as back-up to the Germany international in the cup competitions this season.

But with Arsenal’s hopes of returning to European football’s elite club competition likely to hinge on winning the Europa League, Arteta opted to select Leno for last night’s round of the last 32 first leg tie at Olympiacos.

Leno rewarded his manager’s faith with a commanding performance which helped the Gunners record a third consecutive clean sheet in all competitions, with Alexandre Lacazette’s late goal cementing a 1-0 victory.

Emery had a mixed record in the transfer market during his 18 months in north London with the likes of Lucas Torreira, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Matteo Guendouzi struggling to nail down starting roles under his successor.

Keown, however, believes Leno, signed from Bayer Leverkusen for a relatively modest €22million has been an unqualified success.

‘We’ve got to look at the shots against, on average now there are fewer shots on the Arsenal goal. Leno was making more saves than any other keeper [before],’ he told BT Sport.

‘He’s used to the action that he came up against tonight and I felt that Arsenal were a little bit passive for large moments, they were just doing enough.

‘Leno has been quite a success story, coming into Petr Cech, they are big boots to fill and I think he has done that successfully, by and large, it’s his first game in the Europa League and he came out to make a point.

‘I think it sends a strong message, I think Arsene Wenger would have played a second-strength keeper because they travel the world supporting the main keeper but he’s now seen fit to put the number one in and I can see why tonight.’

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