Emiliano Martinez’s ability has never been in question, but it can be expected that following a busy Summer period where he helped guide Lionel Messi to his first major International honour, that the Villa keeper was slightly off pace to start this season.
Expected goals is a metric that measures the quality of a chance. When analysing the post-shot expected goals (PsxG) it analyses the quality of finishing being displayed following the chance. The only thing stopping a shot on target going in is the goalkeeper, therefore it the PsxG is how likely the keeper is to save it effectively.
Against Watford, Villa conceded three goals from just 1.1 PsxG, meaning the finishing displayed by Watford should’ve only really resulted in one goal. This was however due to a deflection and curling effort from some distance that Martinez couldn’t have done much about.
Regardless of this, last season prevented around seven goals that should’ve gone in when analysing PsxG and it was his performances that exceeded expectations that dragged Villa through several games.
He looked back to this level against United. He made four saves overall and all four of them came within the penalty area. His quick reflexes and experience were on full display with his most notable save against a guided header from Harry Maguire. Martinez not only stopped this from going in but also had the awareness to direct the ball away from the danger zone.
The Argentinian International was also extremely aware of the threat that United posed in behind the defence. The pace they possess meant they could hurt the Villa defence if it was caught on his heels. What they didn’t expect was Martinez being so quickly off the blocks as he rushed out on two occasions to clear the ball and was successful both times.
To round this performance off, he also displayed the elite mentality he has at the highest level. His strategic mind games against Yerry Mina in the Copa America were key in the penalty shoot-out Argentina beat Columbia in, he adopted a similar approach here.
The penalty taker for United has always been Bruno Fernandes but with Cristiano Ronaldo now in the picture it wasn’t so obvious who would be taking it. Martinez capitalised on this and urged Bruno to let Ronaldo take it. They were words that would plague the midfielder as he strolled up to the ball and skied his golden opportunity over the bar.
Pressure bursts pipes or makes diamonds and Martinez most definitely shines in these situations. Villa are lucky to have him in goal and it is no shock that when he is performing like this that all three points come back to Birmingham.
He is just another clear example of the quality this Aston Villa side possesses. The potential this team has is frightening and they will be well up for anything that is thrown their way now.