Mikel Arteta speaks out on battle between Emiliano Martinez and Bernd Leno to be Arsenal’s No.1

Martinez finished the season as Arsenal's No.1
Martinez finished the season as Arsenal’s No.1 (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is in no doubt that he has two top goalkeepers in his ranks in Emiliano Martinez and Bernd Leno, but wants them to compete next season for the No.1 shirt and isn’t interested in just keeping one or the other happy.

After a decade at the club, being sent away on various loan spells, Argentine Martinez finally got his chance to be the Gunners’ first-choice keeper when Bernd Leno’s knee injury in June ruled him out for the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign.

The 27-year-old produced some outstanding displays – often sparing the blushes of the defence in front of him – including in Arteta’s side’s impressive run to their record 14th FA Cup victory.

Leno’s injury has healed quicker than expected and he started the pre-season friendly win over MK Dons on Tuesday.

When asked if Leno will start the new season as No.1, ahead of Arsenal’s Community Shield clash against Liverpool on Saturday, Arteta said: ‘I love to have two goalkeepers at the level of Bernd and Emi.

‘Last season, when Bernd got injured, if somebody had some doubts about Emi’s character or qualities then he’s shown what he’s able to do and he didn’t do it for one game, he did it for 10 or 11 games in a row.

Martinez finally picked up his first piece of silverware with the FA Cup win
Martinez finally picked up his first piece of silverware with the FA Cup win (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’m delighted to have both of them. But they both know that on the first day of pre-season, you start again and fight for your place and show us who is the one that deserves the chance to start.

‘I don’t want to keep them both happy, I want the one that is not playing to be upset.

‘But upset and then challenge the next player to make him better, or if not, earn his place to do that. It’s not easy to do that.

‘I personally don’t see any different with goalkeepers to full-backs. They know that, I’ve been really clear with them and hopefully they can make each other better and hopefully the team better.’

When quizzed about Leno’s fitness and if the German was upset about Martinez’s excellent form, Arteta added: ‘Yes, Bernd is fit. He was almost fit for the last game against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

‘We didn’t want to take the risk even to get him involved in the squad but he ’s been training throughout the summer and he is in perfect condition now.

‘He’s not upset. I think he’s really happy because he really understands Emi’s position and he knows Emi’s history at this football club and how patient and how much he’s been fighting to earn his place and earn the right that now everybody likes him and Bernd is such a great character as well for us and he’s not someone that’s going to be upset about that situation.’

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