Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has admitted that he has struggled to sleep during his side’s difficult start to the new Premier League season.
The 30-year-old is yet to keep a clean sheet from five top-flight fixtures this term and has conceded nine goals for Steven Gerrard‘s under-performing side.
Martinez left Arsenal in acrimonious circumstances in 2020 to become Aston Villa’s number one, and he returned to the Emirates on Wednesday hoping to make an impact against his former club.
The Argentina international did make six saves in the game – including strong palms away from Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard – but he did not cover himself in glory for both of the Gunners’ strikes.
In the first half, Granit Xhaka‘s cross-cum-shot was deflected into the path of Martinez, who could only spill the ball to a grateful Gabriel Jesus for a tap-in.
Douglas Luiz restored parity for Villa direct from a corner, but 151 seconds later, Martinez flapped at a scuffed Martinelli effort and could not prevent Arsenal from restoring their slender advantage.
Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners to hand Villa their fourth defeat from five Premier League games this term, and their third loss in succession following failed endeavours against Crystal Palace and West Ham United.
Opening up to Sky Sports News about his side’s poor start, Martinez admitted that he only slept 45 minutes after the loss to Arsenal and struggles to drift off even if his side win without a clean sheet.
“Even when we win and I concede I can’t sleep – but I couldn’t sleep on Wednesday [after Arsenal], I went to bed at 6.30(am) and I woke up at 7.15(am),” Martinez explained. “I struggle with defeats, I struggle when I concede goals but that’s me – I move on and after I’ll be out training.
“I love this club, I’ve said it from day one I love this club. I love being here, I didn’t want to go anywhere and I owe the fans for always having my back so I want to repay them.
“When I see kids with my shirt in the ground and they chant my name it makes me want to stay and I fell in love with this club, and that’s why I can’t sleep.
“Obviously if you don’t care I would just sleep straight after the game but I really care about this club and I want to take this club to Europe – obviously it’s a bad start but I think I can still do it.
“Me not keeping clean sheets is probably the worst feeling as a goalie, I’m ambitious and we’re working with [goalkeeping coach] Neil Cutler to see what my problem is or what I can do better, but it’s certainly not the start I was hoping for.
“[Against Arsenal] it was another deflection that goes into the goal. I was expecting a cross, and it’s a reaction save rather than a comfortable catch – then unfortunately Jesus was there at the right time and it was a good finish.
“The second one, again, I can’t see the ball clearly and instead of tipping it over the bar it went in. I thought I was having a good game, we were holding on, I was making some good saves but I’ll always put the fault on me and never make excuses. Certainly, I have to deliver more.”
Martinez has totalled 26 clean sheets in 81 appearances for Aston Villa across all competitions, and Gerrard’s side headed into Saturday’s clash with champions Manchester City down in 19th in the table – only above winless Leicester City.
The ex-Arsenal man – who only made 15 Premier League appearances for the Gunners – is expected to head into the 2022 World Cup as Argentina’s number one.