Arsenal succumbed to defeat of their Europa League final 16 tie towards Sporting CP on Thursday night, and it wrecked the golf equipment possibilities of successful solely a second-ever main European honour.
What makes it even worse is the tie dragged on for 120 minutes, earlier than the Portuguese facet prevailed on penalties to succeed in the quarter-finals.
The primary three efforts from either side had been transformed earlier than Gabriel Martinelli missed Arsenal’s fourth penalty earlier than Nuno Santos scored the successful effort, and it means the Gunners can now divert all their consideration to successful the Premier League.
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Would possibly the shootout have gone in a special course had a former goalkeeper for the membership been between the sticks? With Emiliano Martinez, something is feasible that’s for positive.
What’s Emiliano Martinez to date?
Properly, the Argentinian has had fairly the journey since leaving Arsenal which culminated in him having fun with the event of his life on the 2022 World Cup, the place he not solely performed a large half in his nation successful the competitors, however he additionally secured the Golden Glove award for finest goalkeeper.
Arsene Wenger signed him for the membership again in 2010, and he endured mortgage spells at six completely different golf equipment throughout his spell at Arsenal. The 30-year-old made simply 38 appearances for the primary workforce throughout his close to decade-long stint and joined Aston Villa for £20m in 2020.
His penalty document is superb, and he could have saved Arsenal from defeat towards Sporting. He has saved ten penalties in his profession and his heroics in penalty shootouts for his nation have been great.
Certainly, he saved two penalties towards the Netherlands within the World Cup quarter-final, earlier than denying France’s Kingsley Coman within the ultimate.
Throughout Argentina’s Copa America victory in 2021, Martinez saved three of Colombia’s 5 penalties and through his profession, he has confronted 24 penalties in aggressive shootouts and has saved six of them, successful fee of 25%.
He’s valued at €25m (£22m) by the CIES Soccer Observatory whereas former Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta described him as “loopy” following his efficiency towards the Netherlands in Qatar.
In fact, that is all conjecture, however having somebody just like the Villa sensation in objective for the essential penalty shootout on Thursday night could have unnerved a couple of of the opposition gamers no finish, particularly along with his latest antics.
It wasn’t to be for Arsenal, but the defeat would possibly nicely be a blessing in disguise as a primary league crown since 2003/2004 would possibly simply be a couple of brief weeks away.