Aston Villa must unleash Emiliano Martinez

Aston Villa are set to compete in their first Premier League match of 2023 as they travel away from home to face Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon.

The Villans are facing Antonio Conte’s side off the back of a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool last time out and will be hoping for a reaction as they look to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time in Unai Emery’s reign.

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Villa’s new head coach has endured a difficult start to life back in England in regards to fixtures as he has had to play against Manchester United twice, Tottenham, and Liverpool within his first five games.

However, they did beat the Red Devils in the top-flight and Emery will now be aiming for another scalp as they head to London for this match.

In order to give his side the best chance of picking up a positive result today, the former Villarreal boss must finally unleash goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from the start.

Should Emiliano Martinez start?

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Yes

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No

The Argentine shot-stopper returned to training earlier this week after being awarded a break due to his involvement in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

His absence meant that Robin Olsen lined up between the sticks against Jurgen Klopp’s side and the Sweden international must now be dropped from the team in favour of Martinez as he is a liability for Villa.

In two Premier League appearances this season, the former Everton man has conceded seven goals and let in 47% of the shots against him. He also struggled in the EFL Cup as he made one error leading to a goal and saw half of the eight shots on his goal go past him against Manchester United.

Last season, Olsen played for Sheffield United in the Championship and averaged an unimpressive Sofascore rating of 6.55 across 11 appearances as he made two errors leading to shots or goals and saved 61% of the shots against him.

These statistics indicate that Emery cannot rely on the goalkeeper to put in a good performance between the sticks, whereas Martinez has been in solid form in the top flight this term.

The former Arsenal gem, who was once hailed as “outstanding” by ex-teammate Jack Grealish, has averaged a Sofascore rating of 6.91 in the Premier League and has a save percentage of 69% across 15 outings.

Martinez, who journalist Callum Altimas dubbed a “mad man” for his antics in Qatar, also proved his worth at the World Cup as he made two penalty shoot-out saves against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and then one in the final against France as he played a major role in his team winning the trophy.

Indeed, he can be a difference-maker between the sticks with his ability to make big and important saves from both the penalty spot and from open play.

The £120k-per-week Argentine monster could be the difference between the Villans losing and picking up a positive result against Spurs. He has superior ability in comparison to the club’s second choice, and must finally be unleashed after his return from Qatar.