Has Emiliano Martinez Been Unfairly Victimised by Premier League Referees?

Aston Villa’s Most Booked Goalkeeper

When Emiliano Martinez picked up his now trademark yellow card for time-wasting against Fulham, he became the most booked goalkeeper in the Premier League.

All six of the Villa keeper’s yellow cards have been awarded for time-wasting. But is he simply suffering from a bad reputation?

A recent piece in The Analyst broke down the hard facts of time wasted in the Premier League.

Looking at the top five leagues in Europe, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, The Bundesliga and The Premier League, none of them see the ball in play for 60% or 54 minutes of the game. This means in a game you can say the ball spends 40 minutes out of play. Hello NFL fans!

With this staggering figure you can be certain that time-wasting, game management, or whatever term you prefer, plays a big role, but is Martinez worthy of his perceived position as the main offender?

Like most of modern football, the stats don’t exactly play out in front of your eyes.

The Stats

Aston Villa are only the ninth slowest team in getting the ball back into play from a goal kick, the position where Emiliano Martinez is in complete control of the restart.

With an average of 29.5 seconds used to take a goal kick, Villa lag way behind the main offenders Newcastle United on 36.8 seconds and behind Everton and Brentford on 33.1 and 32.9, respectively. Liverpool are in a league of their own with 21.5, a full 15.3 seconds per goal kick quicker than Eddie Howe’s Newcastle.

As a broad stroke, if you are under 30 seconds for a goal kick, you are comfortably outside the list of main offenders.

To put this into real life scenarios, Southampton’s Gavin Bazunu took an average of 43.7 seconds before taking 18 goal kicks at the Emirates. This meant that 13 minutes and 6 seconds match time was used up by the Saints keeper.

This staggering figure is still only the second highest as Brentford’s David Raya managed 13 mins and 29 seconds in his side’s 2-0 win over West Ham.

Raya has one booking in the league this season, while incredibly Bazuna is yellow card free.

So Why is Emiliano Martinez Top of the Pile for Time-wasting Bookings?

The only answer to this is his reputation. Emiliano Martinez is a recognised master of the dark arts of football especially in and around penalty kicks.

From telling Everton and Columbia’s Yerry Mina “I’m eating you up, brother. I’m eating you up, brother.” as he trash-talked before saving a crucial spot kick on Argentina’s way to Copa America triumph in 2021.

To famously goading Bruno Fernades into missing against Aston Villa in injury-time, when telling the United star that Ronaldo should be taking the kick.

It was all working towards Martinez’s magnum opus, his performances in the 2022 World Cup, which unsettled The Netherlands in a shootout and finally broke French resistance in the final. Yerry Mina was just a warm-up, as the full bag of Martinez tricks came out. The best was throwing the ball away from France’s Aurelian Tchouameni, delaying his spot kick and building the pressure leading to him putting it wide of the target.

Live by the Sword

As well as winning him the Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper at the World Cup, his antics on the world stage seem to have given Premier League referees free licence to book him for any slight sign of time wasting. Disproportionately, four of these six bookings have been given since the World Cup.

It didn’t help that the media questioned Unai Emery on it directly after Villa’s controversial 2-4 loss to Arsenal, on 18th February. After the game, the Villa boss said, there was more time wasting than he wanted.

Like many a player before him, Emiliano Martinez gets booked on his perceived reputation, more than reality. But if you live by the sword on the world stage, you will die by it on the domestic stage. Especially, when you consider the current state of Premier League refereeing and how easily some referees are swayed.

Follow Phil on Twitter here – @prsgame