‘We know he will take us to the next level’ – Emi Martinez on Mikel Arteta

Emiliano Martinez has spoken about how Arsenal players believe head coach Mikel Arteta will take them to the next level in an interview with Sky Sports.

Arsenal have won their last four games in all competitions and their most recent win against Wolves at Molineux was their first victory away from home against a team above them in the Premier League since September 2015.

The team have kept clean sheets in three straight Premier League games for the first time since November 2017. The Gunners are very much a work in progress and in the early days of the Mikel Arteta era but there is a feeling that something special is happening at the club. 

Arteta is highly rated both within the club and the game. He spent three years at Manchester City as the assistant to Pep Guardiola and learnt his trade as a coach. The consensus is that the question is not whether Arteta will let Arsenal down but rather if the Gunners hierarchy will let the hugely promising rookie coach down. Let’s hope there’s only cause for celebration as this project matures and no feelings of anybody being let down.

Bernd Leno suffered an injury in Arsenal’s game against Brighton a little over two weeks ago and while it is not as serious as first feared, it is expected to keep the German out for the remainder of the season. There were fears about how Leno’s deputy, Emiliano Martinez would perform in his absence.

The Argentine has played just a handful of games for Arsenal’s first team in spite of having joined the club way back in 2012. Martinez has spent a lot of his time at Arsenal out on loan. He has played for Wolves, Getafe and most recently Reading. This season, he has been our goalkeeper in the cups but being the club’s first choice goalkeeper over a sustained period is a different ball game. 

He has excelled since being drafted into the team and looked assured in the side’s last four games which all ended in victory. Martinez has kept three straight clean sheets in the Premier League and was impressive in our FA Cup quarter final win over Sheffield United. The Argentine is now one of the reasons Gooners are confident about the defence going into a game. The fact that we are not feeling the absence of Bernd Leno, one of the standout players in this Arsenal team, is testament to Martinez’s impact so far. 

On the impact of Arteta at Arsenal so far, Martinez said:

“We knew Mikel would be a good manager when he signed here, but we didn’t know he would be this good. He is incredible. He knows how to deal with experienced players, with young players. He gives us a gameplan against anybody and gives us hope when we do the training sessions.”

“He knows what position you have to be in in every department, whether you are a goalkeeper, a striker or a left-winger. And then, when we go into the games, those scenarios we worked on in training actually happen, so we start believing in every word that he says.”

“When he says something now, we are so willing to listen to him because we know he will take us to another level. That’s Arteta.”

On the commitment and work ethic Arteta demands from his squad:

“You’re in or you’re out, you’re with him or without him, and there’s no discussion on that. We know that if we want to play and we want to be at this football club, we have to be on board.”

“That’s good for the team because no one can relax. If you relax, you don’t train properly or you don’t perform like he wants you to, you’re out.”

“You have to follow him and that’s what we’re trying to do now.”

The Argentine shot stopper also had a lot of praise for Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach, Iñaki Cana Pavon, who joined the club as a part of Arteta’s backroom staff in December 2019.

On Pavon:

“Iñaki is a hard-working man and he has shown us from the first day what he wants from his goalkeepers. It’s been really good, to be honest. He works really hard with us. We are dead when we finish the training sessions with him.”

“Iñaki shows us videos every day and he is constantly telling us what we need to do to improve and how to do it. Even when you think you have done the right things and you keep a clean sheet, he will still tell you 10 bad things in your game. That’s good. That’s how you improve. He’s a positive man and we are glad to have him.” 

On his wait to play regularly for Arsenal:

“It’s been up and down in my Arsenal career, to be honest. There was something I had inside me that said, ‘Why am I not getting my chance in the club that I love?’ But God always puts you in the right place at the right time. I’ve worked really hard over the years and been really patient and now I’m getting the rewards.”

“I always believed I could do it here and the club always believed in me as well. That’s one of the reasons I stayed here for so long. They always believed I could become the No 1. That motivation kept me going and it’s not like I haven’t been progressing over the years. I was always progressing and pushing my career forward.”

On how he motivated himself through his loan spells:

“When I went to Reading last season, I said to myself, ‘This is my last loan.’ My body was always tired at the end of the season from travelling and not knowing what I was going to be doing next, so I made that challenge to myself that it was my last loan and I had to do well.”

“I prepared myself mentally more than ever.”

On his experience with Reading:

“They gave me an amazing opportunity and I’m grateful.”

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