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Bernd Leno looks set to spend a spell on the sidelines, so let’s take a look at the alternative options to the German goalkeeper for the rest of the season.
The obvious replacement in the team is Emi Martinez. After 10 years with Arsenal, he’s finally in a position to challenge for the number one spot, and he earned that opportunity.
He had a great loan spell with Reading last year, and five clean sheets in 11 starts for Arsenal this season. He’s a good shot-stopper and loves to come out to claim a high ball, though he also occasionally runs out when he shouldn’t.
His performance against Brighton was solid, with an excellent save from Aaron Mooy moments after coming on. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much he could do about the winning-goal. He’ll hope to start regularly over the next month.
For the next couple of games, Matt Macey should slot into the backup role in the Arsenal squad. He was the club’s third-choice keeper for most of the season, making the bench for a couple of League Cup games.
Macey spent last season on loan with Plymouth, where things didn’t go too well for him or the team. He made 38 appearances and kept five clean sheets. They ended up finishing in the relegation places down to League Two.
His contract would’ve expired this month, but Arsenal recently activated a one-year option to extend it to 2021.
Hein was the Arsenal u23s’ first-choice goalkeeper this season, only really dropping out of the side when the club wanted to give Macey a game.
Talented but raw, the teenage goalkeeper joined in 2018. He only turned 18 in April, so he’s certainly more one for the future. Nonetheless, he actually already made his senior debut before joining Arsenal, albeit in the Estonian second tier.
As a regular follower of the u23s, I’ve seen him make plenty of crucial saves throughout the season. However, he also still has a mistake in him, as you’d expect for such a young goalkeeper.
Hillson dropped out of the Arsenal u23 starting lineup back in August, and he didn’t get another chance after that. However, he appeared in the squad for almost every game, and Arsenal recently gave him a contract extension.
More than that, the 19-year-old was also recently at the club training ground, suggesting he’s one of the players Arsenal selected to be part of their coronavirus testing group. I can’t really say how he’s performing, as I haven’t seen him play for so long.
It’d be a surprise to see him make the jump from u23 backup to the first-team backup in a few months, but stranger things have happened.
Unfortunately, Iliev can’t play for Arsenal this campaign. He’s on loan with Jagiellonia in Poland, and the Premier League clubs have agreed not to use returning loanees this season. Regardless of all that, he’s currently trying to shake off an injury anyway.
Emergency Goalkeeper Transfer?
Clubs often get special dispensation to make a loan goalkeeper signing if they suffer injuries to their current senior options. It’s the one position the FA will consider allowing a move outside the transfer window.
Arsenal wouldn’t get this unless Emi Martinez picked up an injury as well, though, and probably Matt Macey too. They aren’t in a position to argue they have no serious options left just yet.