After securing yet another clean sheet in a 1-0 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League at the weekend, it’s fair to say Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez has been one of the signings of the season.
Speaking after his arrival, Dean Smith declared: “We know how highly Arsenal rated him and we watched his outstanding performances last season in a trophy-winning top side.
“We moved for Emi when we saw the opportunity, as it is rare to be able to buy a top-class goalkeeper who hasn’t yet reached their peak age and who can therefore be a key player for our club for the long term.”
And it’s fair to say that Martinez has been more than just a good signing. The Argentine has been the cornerstone of Villa’s impressive defensive record this season, keeping 13 clean sheets in just 24 Premier League games – only Ederson of runaway leaders Manchester City has kept more with 15.
Valued at £13m by CIES, the 6 foot 4 shot-stopper has arguably been Villa’s talisman this season, not Jack Grealish. Martinez has cut an imposing figure in between the sticks, and has already racked up a highlight reel of incredible stops and flying saves with the tips of his gloves – you’ve only got to look at his one-man show against Brighton to see just how good he is.
It’s no surprise that more people seem to have caught onto Martinez’s ability, with Argentinian World Cup winner Daniel Bertoni, saying: “Any Italian team looking for a goalkeeper should watch Emiliano Martinez, who Arsenal relinquished last summer.
“Now he plays for Aston Villa and is a phenomenon: he guarantees 10 points per season.”
The shut-out against Leeds at Elland Road was the eighth time Villa have kept the opposition out in their 13 away games thus far this season, which already equals their club record from the 2009/2010 campaign.
A lot of that comes down to having a goalkeeper who can bring a bit of composure to the defence, not making any silly mistakes and doing the simple things well – he’s committed just one error leading to a goal in the Premier League, while he’s also much more of a throwback in terms of his style of goalkeeping.
He’s made just the one punch in 24 league games, instead being a much more relieving sight for his defenders by choosing to go up for the ball and hold it when the ball is in the air – he’s made 30 high claims.
Having that kind of number one behind you, is surely hugely welcomed by the likes of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, who know that their goalkeeper is there to take the pressure off their shoulders rather than add to it.
It’s exactly why Johan Lange struck a dream deal for Villa when he signed Martinez from Arsenal last summer.