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Why Roberto Martinez Could Be Natural Successor to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14:  (L-R) Roberto Martinez the Wigan Athletic manager shakes hands with Arsene Wenger the Arsenal manager at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on May 14, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2014

If Roberto Martinez can lead Everton to victory over Arsenal, he might not only be helping them towards superseding the Gunners in the race for Champions League qualification.

He might also be firmly putting his name to the forefront of the Arsenal board members' minds when it comes to considering who could possibly replace Arsene Wenger.

Earlier this month, The Mirror's Football Spy column suggested that Arsenal were eyeing Martinez as a possible replacement for Arsene Wenger. Those rumours have only hotted up since.

In London's Evening Standard, James Olley wrote that this week's clash between Everton and the Gunners could be something of an audition for the Spanish manager:

It would do Everton a disservice to suggest Sunday’s meeting with Arsenal is a job interview for Roberto Martinez but victory could push Arsene Wenger closer to walking away and enhance the Spaniard’s candidacy to replace him.

Wenger's own future is very much in the balance. His current contract with Arsenal expires this summer. The indications have long been that he will sign a new deal and stay, but the longer the saga drags on, the greater the chance he chooses to walk away.

Whether or not Wenger leaves Arsenal imminently or in several years' time, Martinez remains a compelling candidate to succeed him. At Wigan, he overachieved for years on a budget dwarfed by many of his rivals—a feat he could well be asked to repeat at Arsenal.

During his time at the DW Stadium, he also managed to do something that Arsene Wenger hasn't achieved in the last nine years: He won a trophy. His FA Cup Final victory over Manchester City showed courage, conviction and plenty of tactical nous.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Manager Roberto Martinez of Everton celebrates victory after the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on March 30, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

That same set of attributes has proved the undoing of Arsenal in the past. While in charge of Wigan, Martinez oversaw some impressive victories over Wenger, notably a remarkable 3-2 comeback in April 2010 and a shocking 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium two years later

Wigan's relegation did little to stain Martinez's reputation. Instead, he was rightfully praised for staving off the inevitable for so long.

Since moving to Everton, Martinez's reputation has kicked on again. It speaks volumes that the Toffees are currently above Tottenham, who spent £100 million this summer, and Manchester United—managed by Martinez's ailing predecessor.

Martinez seems to have the style to fit Arsenal. His team play a brand of attractive, counter-attacking football. Arsenal's two games with Everton this season have been among the most exciting of the 2013-14 campaign. Under his management, Everton have been transformed from a side based around functionality to one full of flair.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Manager Roberto Martinez of Everton smiles during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Everton at Craven Cottage on March 30, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

He has a certain style off the pitch, too. Martinez conducts himself superbly, and he seems to have the poise required to thrive under the pressure of elite football management.

He also shares Arsene Wenger's passion for young players. Under his tutelage, the likes of Ross Barkley and John Stones have progressed enormously.

Martinez may need more time at Everton before he is ready for the step up to a major club. Arsenal fans fear a reprise of the Moyes situation at Manchester United. However, the Spaniard is a different kettle of fish: His intelligent style of football suggests he will flourish with better players under his command. The results at Everton speak for themselves.

Whether it be this summer or beyond, Martinez would be a worthy candidate to succeed Arsene Wenger.


James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here

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