OPINION: The Dover Marksman on Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno

'My Kingdom for a Goalkeeper' - The Dover Marksman on Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno

OPINION: The Dover Marksman on Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno

The Dover Marksman discusses Bernd Leno

With Arsenal gearing up for a second trip to Liverpool in four days The Dover Marksman reflects on the 3-1 defeat earlier this week.

I’m not going to get out of my pram over Arsenal losing to Liverpool on Monday evening, though I could do without the idea that the home side were so brilliant.

If the referee had done his job they’d have been down to 10 men after two minutes, and Alexander-Arnold would also have gone straight after half-time for a stamp on Tierney.

Maybe the Bhoy is a marked man already. Take Mane (who I believe was awarded man of the match, just about summing up the nonsense of punditry) out of the game for 88 minutes and things would have been very different.

At the same time as not losing any sleep over things I do think Arsenal got a lot wrong last night, especially in the first-half. We were timid, too often out of position (I’m talking about you Bellerin) and failed to work hard enough (I’m talking about you Aubameyang and Willian) and failed to get on to Liverpool. 

The other thing we got badly wrong, especially against the team which is the absolute best at the pressing game, was the constant playing out of defence.

I’ve no problem with it in general – we’ve done it well and scored goals against good sides, as we did last night.

But surely it has to be mixed up?

It also has to be done more quickly. Bernd Leno slows things down, is hesitant in moving the ball and frankly isn’t very good at it. We saw it all the time before Christmas last year until Unai was given his marching orders.

Arteta pretty much abandoned it as a tactic when he arrived and up until the season was suspended. Only when Martinez came in to the side in the summer did it really look like something Arsenal could do and do well. Therein lies the problem.

In his book David Seaman makes reference to the phrase “good shot stopper” and effectively says it’s a bit of an insult to a goalkeeper to be labelled as one because it shows that he’s probably not very good at the rest of the job.

The fact is that all goalkeepers, especially at the top level, are going to be good at stopping shots and, in Leno’s defence, he’s had a lot of it to do playing behind Arsenal’s defenders and has stopped a good many. The problem with Leno is that shot stopping is all he’s got.

Emiliano Martinez is gone so it’s probably not worth dwelling on that, but we certainly need to bring in someone who is an all round goalkeeper if we are going to challenge.

We already know we’re short in midfield, our new centre-backs are an unknown quantity right now and Lacazette and Aubameyang haven’t really got any quality cover, hard worker though Nketiah might be.

Arsenal are four or five players away from challenging at the very top and that will take time.

A decent goalkeeper who inspires confidence in his defence, dominates his area, can use his feet well and is big and commanding is a must. I wonder where we could have got one of them…

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  1. TonyEvans

    Oct 01, 2020, 9:36 #117140

    Think I meant George Wood! The memory is not what it used to be!

  2. TonyEvans

    Oct 01, 2020, 7:26 #117139

    Good to see some of the old posting gang are still out there. Not much to add though from me - I am not the supporter I used to be and am not up to speed really but can still agree about the keeper situation. Very strange decision to sell Martinez, and so reminiscent of Jimmy Rimmer. Talking of keepers of that vintage, whatever happened to Chris Woods?


    Sep 30, 2020, 19:33 #117138

    I am really surprised at the keeper debate as I remember earlier matches where Martinez played when I thought he was vey average & cumbersome - what is he now ON to bring such a transformation? I didn't think the match was that great & it has occurred to me that Mikel might be intending to put out a stronger team for the Cup match - our bench plus a couple of others would make for a faster, more athletic eleven than on Monday. But again I come back to the cause of all this - The Kroenkes. Just a couple of upmarket builders (courtesy of Walmart) with zero ability to properly manage an asset - because that is all AFC means to them. They are firmly part of the top 1-5% of the USA wealth pyramid which means they are without doubt better off personally than they were before the Virus but are either unwilling or simply don't understand the old adage "speculate to accumulate". Of all the billionaires around & we had to finish up with these two dopes.

  4. Bardo

    Sep 30, 2020, 17:05 #117137

    I totally agree re the Leno debate. There must have been something going on behind the scenes to sell Martinez. He is streets ahead of Leno. We have had some cracking keepers Jennings and Dave S come to mind but we have also had some real dross who Wenger deemed adequate to good. Martinez is a class above Leno. My guess it was to do with Leno's contract and the money. They would have had to pay Martinez a lot more and had a very expensive keeper in Leno twiddling his fingers in the reserves. A big mistake to my mind. It will be interesting to see how he does at Villa. We got properly tonked on Monday. Liverpool were easily the better side. Our midfield look nothing more than journeymen. I dont think we have a cat in hells of making top 4. We will do really well to make Ropey league. Other sides like Everton, Wolves and Leicester look tough to beat these days.

  5. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Sep 30, 2020, 16:30 #117136

    Hi Ron - hope you are OK, I was giving MA some time in the job but selling Martinez brought me back early, as they say(LOL) I think Villa have a real bargain in Martinez and I predict he will let in less goals than Leno this season.

  6. itsRonagain2

    Sep 30, 2020, 15:01 #117135

    SKG - Hi there stranger! I was only thinking of the Rimmer analogy the other day. Very apt.

  7. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Sep 30, 2020, 14:53 #117134

    The goal keeping position is an issue with me - this is another Jimmy Rimmer scenario in the making. Rimmer was the best shot stopper I had ever seen at Arsenal and in 1975 he was voted Arsenal player of the season, because he kept us in the top flight that term. Terry Neill sold him to Villa, where he went on to win the league with them and was in the starting line up for the 82 European cup final but got injured after 10 minutes and was replaced by Nigel Spink. JR was also on the bench in the 1968 ECF - he won two European Cup final medals with 2 different teams despite only playing 10 minutes of football. Those of us who watched our painful decline in the mid seventies know that without Rimmer we could have been playing second tier football. Had Martinez been in goal on Monday night Liverpool would not have equalized within 2 minutes of our opener - then who knows we might have hung on till a bit later or maybe we would fluked a draw. MA has made a mistake in selling Martinez and Villa have again stolen a very good keeper from us - is Leno good enough to justify MA's faith in him, time will tell, meanwhile I can confidently predict that Villa will have a much better season than last season and it's not just because Grealish is staying.

  8. itsRonagain2

    Sep 30, 2020, 14:44 #117133

    PS These people who are having a go at Liverpool for a but of cynicism being used are both daft and hypocritical . Yes, i accept that the rules of football are now designed more to suit a kids basketball team, but that aside all teams need strength and cynicism to succeed. Our best teams were known and often hated for it. Its not Liverpool's fault that our club has become a brittle team of softies this last 15 years.

  9. itsRonagain2

    Sep 30, 2020, 14:18 #117132

    Lets face it, they didn't look like a team that really thought they could do some thing at Liverpool. It was pretty anaemic stuff by a team grateful not to have been thrashed. The keeper thing is strange. We ve let one go who couldnt get a game for 10 years despite the poor keepers whove stood between the sticks in the period. This suggests hes not been considered first team material, then he gets his chance and looks like the best keeper since the last decent keeper we had in Seaman. He looked quality yet hes gone. Yes, it was a hsort period of games but i think Arteta played safe and felt obliged to Leno by keeping him. Hes slipped up in my view. Lenos nothing special. Hes OK but not a man who makes us feel assured. Frankly and ironically, hes back up keeper material and it wouldnt have washed with Leno had he have been told that! . Arsenal need a top keeper and as you say, there are 5 or 6 players in that team who arent going to raise Arsenals bar very much. Arteta has eeked some more miles out of players who Emery left to him, but there's a limit. Its another season of beating the middle to lower teams but dont expect much v the better sides unless the opponent has an off day. It s going to take years for a team to be built to challenge by the Arteta or whoever yet there's no money. We are as far from being a title challenger as we were in the mid 60s really. Wengers decline has been his legacy for the club to pick up from.