It’s safe to say Arsenal haven’t quite escaped their questionable run of form, following a recent defeat to Wolves.
Sure, the Gunners were dealt a terrible hand with the controversial sending off of defender David Luiz, and then goalkeeper Bernd Leno, but the loss meant five points have now been dropped in the last three league matches.
Arsenal were supposed to be turning a corner, yet now uncertainty looms large.
Leno’s dismissal has created a headache Mikel Arteta could have absolutely done without, ahead of trip to face plucky Aston Villa on Saturday lunchtime.
A goalkeeping crisis isn’t helpful at the best of times, yet when a team is desperate to establish a period of form it has the potential of being fatal.
Arteta must now decide between new loan signing Mat Ryan, who is still touch-and-go after recovering from a hip problem, and the lesser tested Alex Runarsson.
To make matters worse, the in-form man lining up in the opposition goal is none other than Emiliano Martinez, the Gunners’ FA Cup hero from last season who Arteta sanctioned an exit for in the summer.
So, how does the Arsenal boss figure this one out? And will the departure of Martinez ultimately be his undoing? Sportsmail takes a closer look…
Letting the Argentine stopper go was always going to be questioned, particularly after his admirable FA Cup run and heroics in the final.
What saved Arteta from much of the scrutiny was the fact that Villa were willing to pay up big in order to get the deal done quickly.
It appeared to make sense all ends up, with Arsenal trimming an inflated squad and getting a £17million cash injection for a sub goalkeeper, while Villa would receive an experienced stopper to lead the battle of staying in the top flight.
Now, however, with Villa a point and a place above Arsenal in the table, and Arteta without an established keeper to call upon, it appears the Midlands club got the best part of the deal.
Martinez has been hugely influential for Dean Smith’s side this season, and has undoubtedly secured points all on his own with a series of stellar performances.
In his 20 Premier League matches played Martinez has kept a clean sheet in exactly half of them.
The figures make for impressive reading, given Villa have a goal difference just narrowly behind Chelsea and Tottenham, and better than that of fifth and sixth placed West Ham and Everton.
Despite Villa being regularly attacked this season, Martinez is embracing the action. His save percentage currently sits at 75 per cent, placing him among the best in the division.
Crunching the numbers a little further, Martinez this season has an xGoT faced (the expected value of shots faced on target which should result in a goal) of 25.2.
Therefore, having conceded 24 so far this season, Martinez is shown to be over-performing in his role with a prevention rate of 1.2 (what would deem to be an expected goal).
Is Ryan ready?
Mat Ryan has carved out a strong reputation for himself in the Premier League since arriving at Brighton when the club achieved top flight status.
Upon sealing his shock loan move to the Emirates this month he proudly noted how he was signing for his boyhood club, which bodes well for the Gunners faithful.
However Arteta’s words of caution regarding his fitness status suggest the Australia is far from primed to be thrown in at the deep end.
‘He had a muscular issue and in the last two days he hasn’t been able to train,’ Arteta said of Ryan on Tuesday. ‘Hopefully we can get him back in the next few days.’
Ryan has slotted in as second choice to Leno for the remainder of the campaign, and will certainly be needed in the red card absence of the German. But, is he any better than what they had?
Ryan, who like Martinez is also 28, has played fewer games than the Argentine this season, just over half (11, compared to Martinez’s 20).
Worryingly, however, in that time he has conceded just five goals fewer than the Aston Villa keeper, suggesting he’s much more porous than the man he is now essentially replacing.
It means, statistically, Ryan is conceding a goal every 52 minutes of play. Martinez, in contrast, ships one every 75 minutes.
Less games obviously equates to less action, but Ryan’s 16 saves made this season pale in comparison to the 75 Martinez has made.
When it comes to xGoT faced, Ryan may want to look away. Figures, via Statsperform, show that Ryan was expected to concede 12.6 from his 11 matches. Letting in 19 goals, however, gives the ‘keeper a negative goals prevented percentage of -5.4.
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