Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners Third-Choice Goalie Martinez Set for UCL Debut

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger look set to hand goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez a Champions League debut at Anderletch on Wednesday.

The ‘Gunners’s’ first-choice goal-tender Wojciech Szczesny is suspended following his sending off against Galatasaray three weeks ago, while Colombia international David Ospina has a thigh problem. Argentine Martinez has featured only on two occasions- both in the League Cup- since joining the club from Independiente in 2010.

He was in goal in a 7-5 Capital One Cup win over Reading in 2012. The 6ft 4in goalkeeper spent part of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship, making 15 appearances and keeping two clean sheets. He has also had loan a spell at Oxford United.

Englishman Ryan Huddart, 17, will be on the bench as his back-up.

Arsenal are second in Group D with three points after two rounds of matches and will have a chance to build on a convincing 4-1 win over the Turks last time out in a double-header against the Belgian champions. They trail Borussia Dortmund Dortmund by three points, while Anderlecht and bottom-placed Gala occupies the two remaining positions, tied on two points.

Emiliano Martinez Set for His Arsenal Champions League Debut. Image: Stuart Macfarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty.
Emiliano Martinez Set for His Arsenal Champions League Debut. Image: Stuart Macfarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty.
The north Londoners will also be looking to hand manager Wenger a befitting birthday present, as the Frenchman turns 65.

Wenger said: “It is a big game for us and I just dedicate all my energy to getting things right to perform, because at the moment I feel there is a difference between the quality of our performances and the points we get.

“We want to add something to the quality of our performance and get the points that you feel is there in the team. That little percentage we can improve in the team is vital and I hope we get it.”

Defender Calum Chambers is available after a domestic ban, while forward Lukas Podolski has returned from illness.

Theo Walcott is not yet match fit having recovered from a nine-month injury hiatus, while France full-back Mathieu Debuchy also remains on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Laurient Koscielny (Achilles), Mesut Ozil (knee), Yaya Sanogo (hamstring) and Olivier Giroud (foot) are all out.

Meanwhile, Coach Besnik Hasi insists Anderlecht, who are top of the Belgian league and are unbeaten after 11 domestic matches, will not underestimate their visitors despite their much-depleted squad.

“Arsenal are playing in the Premier League every week- they are playing big games,” he said. “We are playing in a smaller competition and we need these types of games to get better.

“We are a very young, talented team. But for us it will be a mistake if we are thinking that because Arsenal are missing some players and have not been at their top level in their competition, they will not be difficult opponents. That mistake will not happen here.”