Tag Archives: soccer

Gossip: Man City To Make £50m Signing, Man Utd Agree £30m Fee & Palace To Seal £25m Deal

The gossip is well underway and we have all the latest for you in our gossip column.

Palace make £25million bid for Cristian Benteke (Telegraph)

Liverpool are considering whether or not to accept a £25million bid from Crystal Palace for Cristian Benteke, according to reports. Jurgen Klopp is thought to be willing to part with the Belgian striker, but the club were initially hoping to recoup £30million for him. Palace’s bid will certainly be worth considering though, as Liverpool look to raise funds to build a squad more suited to Klopp’s style. Benteke may not want to move to a club like Palace though, as he has always had his sights set firmly on playing for the very best clubs. But with Benteke unable to play regularly at Liverpool and with no big clubs interested currently, the 25-year-old may have to take a step back before moving to a big club again. Under Alan Pardew, Palace are building a solid squad having recently signed Andros Townsend and more targetted. Liverpool are yet to respond to Palace’s offer but if they did accept, they’d be taking a £7.5million hit on the £32.5million they paid last summer.

Manchester City set to pay £50million for John Stones (Telegraph)

 

Everton put a £50million price tag on John Stones’ head in a bid to scare potential suitors away, but with Pep Guardiola desperate for homegrown talent, it seems City will now pay the full asking price. It would be an incredible move for Stones, who aged just 22 was often omitted from the Everton line-up last season due to poor form. Stones would become one of the most expensive players in world football, despite not yet managing to cement his place in Everton’s line up. It’s a huge risk from City, because although Stones does have lots of potential, there are no guarantees that he will fulfil it. With Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito already signed, Pep’s attention is not on strengthening his defence and if a deal for Stones is completed, the Spanish manager will have already spent around £100million on new signings, with many more still expected. The rumours linking this story are being reported in nearly every UK paper and there is a strong feeling that Stones will get his wish in the coming weeks, and join Manchester City.

Manchester United set to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan (BBC)

Manchester United have had a bid of around £30million accepted for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The 27-year-old Armenian midfielder is expected to sign a contract with wages worth in excess of £200,000 per week. He scored 18 goals in all competitions last season as well as making many more assists. Mkhitaryan is likely to replace Juan Mata in the number 10 role, although he can also play out wide. Mkhitaryan created an incredible 2.81 chances per 90 minutes last season. He’s a forward thinking player who makes 21.95 forward passes on average per game, although not always successfully, with a pass completion rate of 75%.

Man City and Chelsea Prepare £40million Bids For In Demand 21-Year-Old

As the season draws to a close the inevitable transfer rumours begin to do the rounds and it looks like Everton and England centre-back John Stones will be a target of top clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City. Last summer Stones was hotly tipped to join Chelsea in a big money move but nothing came of it and Everton dug in their heels and resisted any bid Chelsea threw at them.

This summer may well be a different story however as Chelsea again begin to circle over the highly rated player who will only turn 22 years-old in a couple of weeks. According to reports in today’s media, Chelsea are readying a £40million bid for Stones but Everton are expecting at least £50million for one of their most prized assets.

It is a transfer saga which is likely to drag on through the summer right through the European Championships where Stones is likely to feature heavily. Everton bought Stones for £3million in 2013 and has made 85 appearances for The Toffees who stand to make a substantial profit on the player.

Despite having a below-par season with Everton, Stones is still very much a transfer target for Chelsea. Manchester City would also potentially be keen on a player who is currently close by to them.

How does Stones compare to the current crop of defenders at Stamford Bridge and the City of Manchester Stadium.

Chelsea have always had a reputation as one of the best organised defensive teams in the Premier League and in Europe. However this season has been a bit of a disaster for The Blues. The sacking of Jose Mourinho and the appointment of Guus Hiddink and interim manager and derailed their season and with the arrival of new manager Antonio Conte in the summer changes will be made at the club.

Doubts remain over long-term captain John Terry’s future at the club. Terry who turns 36 years old in December was sent off at the weekend as Chelsea lost 3-2 to struggling Sunderland and time seems to be catching up with the aging former England captain. His contract expires at the end of the season and it appears unlikely that Chelsea will offer him a new deal. Despite vast experience in the Chelsea squad there have been noticeable cracks in the once water-tight defence. Gary Cahill has struggled with form and Kurt Zouma was injured against Manchester united in February.

New manager Conte will expect a solid defence as he attempts to bring the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge after a poor campaign this year. Stones might be a target for Chelsea but the Italian may have other ideas about him and it is unclear whether Chelsea are to end to long career of Terry this summer. An experienced head like Terry could be vital for Conte to adapt to the English game.

Manchester City are a club also with huge defensive issues. They have a world class goalkeeper in Joe Hart and a tough tackling defensive midfield with the likes of Fernando and Fernandinho but it is the centre-back positions which will have incoming manager Pep Guardiola scratching his head with concern.

Captain Vincent Kompany has struggled with injury over the season and announced that he will miss Euro 2016 this summer. When Kompany plays City have leadership and organisation, however when the Belgian is missing then his back-up defenders struggle. Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi arrived for a combined transfer fee total of around £60million and both have struggled with the rigors of the Premier League. Even an experienced player like Martin Demichelis has been found out.

City going after Stones would make perfect sense for the club. Stones is originally from Barnsley and would remain in the north and have the chance to be guided under the management of Guardiola. Chelsea however almost turned his head last summer and will be confident they can fulfill their objective.

 

Arsenal, Man Utd & Barcelona Ready Bids For World Class German International

According to reports in Germany this morning, Mats Hummels has to decide in the next few weeks whether he wants to extend his current contract with Borussia Dortmund or leave. His current contract runs out in 2017 and if both parties are unable to reach an agreement it is likely Dortmund will be forced to sell this summer with Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona interested.

Mats Hummels has arguably been one of the best players in his position for many years, the German international also has 4 goals in 46 appearances for his country.

Dortmund understands that the interest in Hummels could turn his head, he has been at the Westfalenstadion for eight years and may fancy a new challenge. At 27 years old Hummels is reaching his prime years and will not want to have any regrets in his career. He has done excellent with Dortmund after winning the Bundesliga twice and also reaching the final of the Champions League.

German newspaper Bild report Arsenal and Manchester United are mainly paying close attention to the situation but also insist Barcelona are monitoring his situation. Hummels this season expressed his doubts about signing a new deal and committing himself to Dortmund and admits he is in no rush to do so.

Dortmund may have to cash in on Hummels this summer if a contract isn’t agreed or risk losing him for free in 2017. Although they wouldn’t receive a massive fee as his contract is coming to an end they would still want enough to money to hopefully replace the outgoing defender.

Hummels told media last season he was reflecting on whether to leave Dortmund but wanted to stay for Thomas Tuchel’s debut season.

“I already said before the season that I want to see what happens this year — a new coach, several changes in the squad. To me, it is important to see how good we are, and how good we can be in the future.

“I am not pushed for time, and no one from the club has put any pressure on me.”

Hummel’s was asked if he is facing the biggest decision of his career.

“No, I don’t think so. I had to make this decision quite frequently. And, indeed, we have not entered talks.”

He also said he was “not leaning one way or another” and his committed focus is “completely on football” for now.

We recently covered Arsenal’s frailties in defence and the much-needed reinforcements this summer. Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista have both been exposed several times this season and have both failed on nailing down a starting position. The only player with some pride would be Laurent Koscielny who has been Arsenal’s best centre-back and has helped Arsenal massively when relied on, it is thought a new centre-back would be to play alongside Koscielny instead of replacing him.

United have been too reliant on David De Gea, Chris Smalling has been good but they have still been left short in that position. United have often been exposed when facing attacking teams, for example they had a complete defensive meltdown against Spurs last week after losing 3-0 conceding all goals in six minutes.

It is clear Hummels would be a clear upgrade to both teams and would really bring more stability to their defences; he is a leader which both teams are also lacking.

Barcelona’s interest also isn’t a surprise; after lacklustre defensive performances which have squashed their lead at the top of La Liga to just one point. Questions have been raised after disappointing performances recently especially from Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique. They are still without a doubt the best team in the world after the triple last season but have recently been knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals, which is not good enough for a club of Barcelona’s stature. There is no doubt Hummels would be interested in a move to the Spanish giants if a bid was made.

How does Hummels compare to United, Arsenal and Barcelona’s current crop of defenders?

Being a defender you have to win your tackles, it’s what being a defender is all about. Mascherano has a very impressive 1.95 with tackles won, closely in second is Hummel’s 1.79, Pique is third 1.28, Smalling fourth with 1.23 and Mertesacker last 1.14. Mertesacker has a very good percentage when it comes to aerial duels won. He has won a very impressive 76.27%, in second is Hummels with 70.95%, and third is Mascherano which is surprising as he is also the smallest. He has won 61.70%, Pique just edges Smalling in fourth with 60.92% and the latter 60%.

Being defensively aware and being able to read the game will help defenders intercept play. Hummel’s has a quite astonishing 3.04 when it comes to interceptions which completely blow him out of the water. Smalling is second with 2.77 which is once again impressive. Barcelona pair Mascherano and Pique is third and fourth with (2.31 v the latter 2.04). This stat doesn’t help Mertesacker as he has been labelled non-mobile and very slow, he scores a very low 1.54. Blocks are the same, you need to be defensively positioned with great awareness of play to get in the way and help your back line. Smalling has a very high score with blocks, scoring an impressive 0.60, closely behind is Pique 0.56 and Mascherano 0.52, Mertesacker is fourth with 0.45. Surprisingly Hummels is last with quite a poor score of 0.13 which is quite a difference to his interception score. Smalling is once again top when it comes to clearances scoring a high score of 5.43; Mertesacker is just behind on 5.15 with Pique third on 4.04. Hummels is fourth scoring 3.54 and Mascherano scores a below standard 2.07. Taking everything into consideration, Hummels has the best defensive score compared to all defenders scoring a very impressive 23.09. Smalling is second 16.28, Mertesacker third 12.74 and the Barcelona pair Pique and Mascherano both near the bottom with (10.02 v the latter 8.41).

In summary, Hummels would improve any defence in the world. He will be in high demand this summer if he cannot agree new terms with Dortmund, he would certainly be an improvement to all three teams mentioned and help them build stability from the back. He has been a rock in Dortmund’s recent success and I am sure they will try their hardest to keep him. If it is made clear Hummels can leave this summer I’m sure more clubs would become interested, for example Manchester City and Chelsea who are also looking to strengthen their defence. It isn’t yet clear whether or not he will leave this summer but if he does he will guarantee any club to be a great signing. His consistency will be taken into consideration and his leadership skills will also play a major part. His impressive stats have caught the eye of many teams and whoever lands him will be lucky.

 

MLS and Argentinian Primera Betting Tips From @OliPriceBates

Betting tipster @OliPriceBates is back to give a few of his selections ahead of the football on Friday and Saturday. Make sure you are following @FreshFootball to follow all our tips.

MLS

Tip 1: New York City to beat Orlando City @ 2.1 – 1.5pt stake – Kick Off: 23:00 Friday

Both of these teams have made unbeaten starts to the MLS season, but I think New York’s quality and home advantage will give them the three points today. We’re backing an outright win for the home side at a very generous 2.1 from Betfair.

Argentina Primera

Tip 2: Arsenal de Sarandi to beat Gimnasia LP @ 3.0 – 1pt stake – Kick Off: 22:00 Friday

Although Gimnasia LP would have been heavy favourites for this tie before the season started, Arsenal are on a great run of form, particularly at home and when you combine that with Gimnasia’s extremely poor away record @ 3.0, you have to back the home side.

Tip 3: Colon to beat Union Sante Fe & BTTS @ 4.8 – 0.75pt stake – Kick Off: 18:30 Saturday

Tip 4: Godoy Cruz to beat Olimpo @ 1.83 – 1.5pt stake – Kick Off: 23:00 Saturday

Although they had a bit of a minor blip last week, I’m backing Godoy to continue their (joint) table-topping form. Olimpo had a great game in midweek and came out as winners but I think they will be suffering whilst Godoy have had a nice rest since their last fixture. 1.5pts on a home win is a pretty safe bet, in my opinion.

Tip 5: Estudiantes LP to win & BTTS @ 5.0 – 0.5pt stake – Kick Off: 00:15 Saturday

Tip 6: Premier League – Swansea vs. Aston Villa – correct score: 1-0 @ 5.8, 1-1 @ 7.4 & 2-0 @ 7.0 – 0.5pt stake on each
Swansea and Aston Villa both hate to score goals at the moment. However, I think the Swans will score against a terrible Villa defence. Backing 1-0, 1-1 and 2-0 to Swansea would leave me very confident of bagging a correct score on the day. 0.5pts on each of those correct scores should result in a decent return.

We will update this page with some more tips so re-visit this article tomorrow!

We have staked the following:

Tip 1: £7.50 @ 2.1 – LOST
Tip 2: £5.00 @ 3.0 – LOST
Tip 3: £3.75 @ 4,8 – LOST 
Tip 4: £7.50 @ 1.83 – WON
Tip 5: £2.50 @ 5.0 – WON
Tip 6: £7.50 – WON (£2.50 @ 5.8)

Amount Staked: £26.25
Returns: £40.72
Profit: +£14.47

Analysing Pardew’s Time at Newcastle

December 6th 2010, Newcastle’s board to the brave and hugely unpopular decision to sack Chris Hughton as manager, fans, players, pundits and the media were in shock and familiar chants of “sack the board” were beginning to arise once again. Three days later, former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton manager Alan Pardew was appointed. He was given a torrid reception upon his debut against Liverpool, yet he overcame what some would say unfair (due to him not being at fault for Hughton’s dismissal) criticism by beating Liverpool 3-1. A lot has happened since the day he took charge, but no one can argue against the fact he has taken the Toon army to a heights not seen since the likes of Keegan was in charge, Pardew has changed system, style, personnel, coaching and most importantly, results.

2010/2011

Due to his appointment taking place before the January transfer window, for the first few matches Pardew was in charge, he had to make do with what he had inherited. His squad was built towards a more direct game with the likes of Carroll, Ameobi and Best being the 3 front line strikers at his disposal, with the likes of Lovenkrands and Nolan making for effective second strikers/attacking midfielders.  In the January transfer window, there were two pieces of business that were made that would affect Newcastle in the long term, firstly the permanent signing of Hatem Ben Arfa who missed the season with a broken leg, this show of faith would be returned the following season, the second piece of business is the sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool, the fee of £35 million was too much to turn down, and although a replacement wasn’t acquired immediately, Pardew managed to adjust the side accordingly in order to see out the season in best form possible.

This is the first squad that Pardew chose for his debut against Liverpool, by opting for a safe forward line of Carroll and Ameobi, he ensured that he would always have an aerial outlet, it may not have been pretty, but it was pretty effective. Pardew had to make sure that the team gained a hard working mentality before results would come in, by choosing a midfield of Gutierrez, Tiote, Nolan and Barton he would be choosing 4 players with a mix of work ethic, profressional tactics, experience and enthusism. His continued confidence in Krul would also show that talent would also be a defining factor in selection. The 3-1 win over Liverpool was a great start to Pardew’s already controversial appointment.

By the end of the month, Pardew was beginning to utilize his squad to a much better ability. The results were at times inconsistent but every match was a build-up to the season 2011/2012 season. In this match Pardew played a 4-3-3 formation but played Barton much closer to Carroll, with the protection of Tiote and Smith, both fullbacks continuously overlapped the wingers and caused problems for Tottenham despite the defeat, playing variations of this system would become more common throughout Pardew’s reign. The match against West Ham was another example of Pardew implementing the 4-3-3 system. With Barton on the right providing a more traditional form of wide play, and Lovenkrands playing off Best, it gave allows for more fluid play and the build-up play allowed for Nolan to make his classic late runs into the box with Tiote covering. This was a fine example of team confidence growing and perhaps more importantly in the long term, confidence in Pardew’s ability to handle a managerial position known for instability.

Without question the most famous game of Pardew’s reign as Newcastle manager was the 4-4 draw with Arsenal, this was the first match since Carroll was sold and there was an air of fustration at St. James Park. Going 4-0 down at half time was a nightmare for the Geordie faithful but somehow managed to pull off a 4 goal turnaround in the second half; tactics did not play an important part due to Arsenal’s structuring after Diaby’s sending off and Newcastle’s commitment to attack with numbers due to knowing they have nothing to lose. This game banished memories of Carroll, at least for a while.

Although the result was negative for Newcastle, this match showed Pardew’s bravery in deploying a system that was unfamiliar to him and the team. Due to Stoke’s direct approach, Pardew wanted to best equip himself with 3 central defenders in order to cope with the threat. Tiote and Barton provided aggression and tenacity in midfield which was required. The problem came from Nolan who naturally drifts towards the box and be on the end of service provided by others, however due to Stoke neutralising Newcastle’s wingbacks with brilliant wide play of their own, Nolan failed to adapt and stay deep to take advantage of the numerical superiority the 3-5-2 allowed them, this in turn starved the strikers of the ball and Stoke dominated proceedings.

The final match of the season saw Pardew give chances to the likes of Guthrie and Ferguson as well as squad player Ryan Taylor. A 3-3 finished Newcastle in 12th position, a stable position for a club who were still suffering from relegation. This was a season of much needed realism and stability and the summer that ensued showed that Pardew and head scout Graham Carr were ready to take Newcastle to a level not seen in years.

2011/2012

During the summer transfer window, fans began to see the shrewd but effective approach Pardew was implementing into his playing philosophy, he wasn’t buying a team full of stars, but a team full of talented, humble and hardworking players who could adapt to the differing situations that could arise during the season. The key players brought in were Cabaye (£4.3m), Demba Ba (Free), Santon (£5m), and during the January window Papiss Cisse (£8m). Campbell, Nolan, Barton, Routledge and Enrique all left for varying fees but indicated a clear out of personalities and a change in style, less direct, more patient and penetrative.

These three examples are once the window had closed and Newcastle had finished their transfer dealings, each show differing combinations such as the two central midfielders, the common factor being Cabaye is the ever present. His influence on the team was a big factor on Newcastle’s success and showed incredible passing ability, dictation of varying tempos as well as a superb free kick. Newcastle changed their striking combination often during the first few games but Ba became a regular with Leon Best providing support till Cisse arrived in January. The Best Ba combination favoured a more direct approach and so Pardew stuck with a 4-4-2 formation, two deep central midfielders allowed the fullbacks to create width and utilize the aerial ability of both strikers and Ameobi who would often be the first call off the bench. The direct approach of Newcastle was shown in full when they defeated Stoke at the Britannia, Demba Ba’s goal coming from a direct build up from the back, by passing midfield and Ba finishing swiftly.

This match was the first time Pardew would see his team thoroughly out done, by playing Ben Arfa off Ba, he placed too much emphasis on staying forward but didn’t cover Romeu who was a free man in midfield, by leaving him free, Chelsea were given numerical superiority and were allowed to dominate the match. This would influence Pardew’s tactics further down the season.

During this period, Newcastle was suffering from the loss of Tiote due to the African Cup of Nations. The loss of Tiote meant the loss of Pardew’s effective aggressive pressing system in midfield and lessened the protection of his defenders. However in the match against Tottenham, Pardew would come to realise a tactical flaw that would change his approach for the rest of the season. His deployment of a 4-4-2 system against a Tottenham team playing a similar system but with far greater fluidity meant consistent overloading in midfield, Newcastle were simply unable to cope with Kranjcar moving infield. By doing so he would cause one of two problems, either take Gutierrez inside with him and effectively eliminate the best outlet Newcastle possessed, or exploit space in midfield due to Perch and Guthrie beyond already occupied by Modric and Parker. This would lead to Pardew changing formation to 4-3-3 for most of the remainder of the season.

For the most part, this was the best team Newcastle could put out, the change in shape meant greater stability in middle of the pitch where Newcastle felt they were overrun in previous games. This stability allowed freedom for Ben Arfa to come off the line and 1) Allow Simpson to overlap and move into the space that Ben Arfa left behind and 2) Do what Kranjcar did to them previously and create an overload in midfield by becoming a penetrative threat by combining with Cisse much more centrally. Ba unfortunately was the player that would benefit least due to the change, not only was he fatigued due to the ANC, his duties now play in providing width on the left hand side which meant less combination play with the other two attackers. This was due to Santon having to defend deeper to facilitate the right hand side of Newcastle’s attack.

These are two examples of Newcastle’s change in formation, and improved results due to the change. Although Ba was struggling to score, Cisse was on fire and gave Newcastle an added threat of pace behind the defence, with Ben Arfa’s movement coming in off the right, onto his favoured left foot, it allowed for blind side runs by Cisse to be found in a fluid motion.

This example taken from the Stoke match shows the difference in movement between Ben Arfa and Demba Ba. Ba is playing deeper and much more restricted to the left hand side of the attack; however Ben Arfa is given the freedom to roam and combines with the midfielders and moves centrally. This intrinsic movement was fundamental to Newcastle’s success towards the final third of the season. Ben Arfa plays with a hunger, desire, willingness, drive and determination, combine that with incredible talent and you have someone who can change not only a match, but a season.

The match against Wigan was seen as more important to Wigan due to survival rather than Newcastle’s mostly secure European ambitions. Newcastle deployed their now usual 4-3-3 system but were tactically outdone by Roberto Martinez and his 3-4-3 system which you can read about (and others) here. Following this match, Pardew decided to go back to a 4-4-2 formation which would see Ba and Cisse continue to develop a partnership and understanding.

When Pardew played Cisse and Ba up front as a partnership, the result showed how effective they could be. Cisse was the star of the show with two superb goals (one of which was nominated Goal of the Season), however upon analysis of Ba’s shots on goal, the angles of the shots are much more varied than previously when he was deployed on the left hand side of the attack.

In conclusion Pardew, along with the help of his coaching and scouting staff, gave Newcastle and their loyal fans the belief to soar to new heights. Finishing is an incredible 5th place showed how much progress was made in such a short period of time, and for once critics could not put it down to quick spending and panic buying, Pardew was efficient with the money given and clever with the players he brought in. The 2012/2013 season has already brought Newcastle shrewd purchases in the forms of Vernon Anita and Amalfitano with the likes of Smith, Guthrie and Best leaving. An opening day win over Champions League spot rivals Tottenham was a great start but unfortunately lost to Chelsea in their second game, the season is long and the challenges are many but the fact that many fans, managers, and pundits alike predict a high finish for Newcastle is testament to everyone involved at the club, considering they were relegated, and gained promotion only 3 seasons ago.

Thanks to ESPN Soccernet for providing stats and figures, This11.com for the pitches and most of all FourFourTwo StatsZone for all the diagrams, line ups and information.

Written by Zaheer Shah, I’m on Twitter! @ZazooShah

Damián Martínez: Striving For Glory

For the past month or so, the Gooners have found new hope between the sticks thanks to the stunning displays of Vito Mannone. Long gone seem the days of Manuel Almunia and that dreadful game against Olimpiakos in Piraeus in last year’s Champions Legue group stage where both Lukasz Fabianski and the aforementioned Mannone had such a dreadful display, Arsenal supporters were left fretting over the consistency and good health of Wojciech Szczesny. There is no doubt that Mannone’s loan at Hull City has given fruit, and that the keeper is currently going through his best spell in an Arsenal shirt.

What many Gooners may not have noticed over the past few fixtures is that a relatively unknown name has turned up in the substitutes’ bench. Ever since Szczesny and Fabianski have been injured, 20-year old goalkeeper Damián Martínez has taken a place on the bench. The young Argentine, who arrived at the team in August 2010, and was immediately sent to Oxford United on an emergency loan, rose to prominence in the Arsenal Reserves squad earning himself a call-up to the Full Argentina National Squad in August 2011, barely a year after his transfer from Independiente. Albeit, he is yet to play for the team, the young Gunner still has plenty of time.

So, can Gooners really rely on this young lad? After all, if something happens to Don Vito, the boy would be part of the Starting XI.  Plus, the past seven years haven’t just meant a trophy drought, they’ve meant a crisis on the goalkeeping position that has seemingly just been solved last season. The answer is probably yes. I’m not saying he’d step up and take Szczesny’s, Fabianski’s, and Mannone’s place, after all, there is a reason he is still a Reserve goalkeeper. Nonetheless, the boy has proven more than once that he has what it takes to become a star for the Gunners. The most recent display of his talents came this past month in Arsenal’s Capital One Cup fixture against Coventry City, which resulted in a resounding 6-1 victory for the Gunners. Although Martínez did let one goal in (some might argue it was due to a defensive mistake) the game proved that the lad has the potential to become a star between the sticks. Last season, Martínez featured thirteen times for the reserves squad, helping the young team manage a comfortable third spot in the Reserves League.

Speaking to Arsenal.com last April, the young Argentine emphasized on his desire of reaching the level of the first team, and thus, mentioned the possibility on going on loan this year:

“Gerry [Peyton, the goalkeeper coach,] said to me that I would be on the bench for the Carling Cup and then I was there for the FA Cup too. He said to me: ‘If you have to come on, are you ready?’, and I said ‘Yes, I am ready’.

“I am still looking forward to being on the bench for a few more games, trying to do my best in the reserves and then be ready for the first team. These are my ambitions for the next two months.”

“[Wojciech Szczesny] said he wasn’t ready for the first team yet so he went out on loan and learned so much there, Then he came back to Arsenal and played in the first team as he was ready.”

“Next season a loan spell could be an option for me.”

Due to the recent injuries in the goalkeeping position, Martínez’s first full team debut might come sooner than expected. I personally believe that, although the lad may not be the squad’s top performer in his position, he has the potential to be a great keeper in the future. Plus, he seems grounded and striving to improve his game. The way I see it, Damián Martínez’s desire isn’t just to play for the first team squad, but rather to reach the level in which he can shine there, and that can only be a good thing for the Arsenal.