Arsenal - Almunia is Wenger's Number One
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Almunia is Wenger's Number One

After an uncertain start to the season and a protracted absence due to a prolonged chest infection, which many saw as an 'injury` of convenience, Manuel Almunia has struggled to convince many supporters that he is good enough to be the clubs goal custodian. He will have been encouraged to receive the support of Arsene Wenger who has announced today on the club web site, that he has full confidence in the Spanish keeper and will select him for the game against Burnley tonight.

Such is the level of scrutiny that Almunia is under, far more than Fabianski or rookie Mannone who kept goal recently, that any perceived misjudgement is seen as evidence of Almunia`s inadequacy. He was commonly considered at fault for the goal conceded at Anfield at the weekend but this view is not apparently shared by the Arsenal manager:

"I have watched the game against Liverpool well," said Arsene.

"The ball was deflected by Lucas and I did not see that during that game.

"Almunia came and Lucas touched the ball with his head and deflected the ball.

"I have full confidence in him and I will pick him tomorrow night."

Having reached a level of grudging acceptance though never full endorsement from some supporters after decent performances since the departure of the erratic, sometimes bizarrely costly but very popular Jens Lehmann, Manuel`s unconvincing start to the season has heightened demands for someone with a greater keeping pedigree. Earlier this month Almunia admitted that things hadn`t gone well for him this season:

"Since coming back I have been feeling good," he explained in a recent matchday programme.

"I didn't feel so well at the start of the season, and I had some bad things around me. As a result I didn't start the season so well.

"But I feel well now back on the pitch and I'm feeling 100 per cent in my mind and body. I have sorted everything out in my body and my life, and I'm ready to help my team-mates.

"It was very hard. Sometimes during your career you don't feel at your best. But with good training, good help, and being professional I was sure I would come back.

"People around me, my wife, everyone was very supportive. Everybody has bad moments, and that was a bad period for me, but it's in the past now."

Those 'things` around him included the tragic bereavement of a family member at a time when, whether real or not, he was still recovering from his chest infection. Manuel Almunia will never be a popular keeper amongst the majority of supporters, his lack of any genuine CV ensures that, but if he can recover a good part of the form that he had shown at times over the last couple of seasons the team, and those like Fabianski waiting behind him, will benefit greatly from it.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 16 2009

Time: 1:44PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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I don't like to slate Arsenal players, but the reason Arsenal fans have never really accepted him is because he is distinctly average. His actions, to me, seem to be those of a man who tries to make his saves appear to be more difficult than they actually are to justify his place in the team. He's definately a showpony ... and not a very good one to be frank. Fabianski is a much more "honest" player.
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16/12/2009 13:54:00

The fact that Almunia has only recently come under this much scrutiny implies he having a bad patch, soon to be rectified. Fabianski *looks* good, for sure, but thats all. He's had one good game recently and that isn't reason enough to give him the number 1 shirt right now.
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16/12/2009 14:03:00

I'd say he's been under scrutiny since he took over from Lehmann if you ask me MTG. I can only remember two instances where he has earned us a point or two (Spurs and Chelsea), and countless where he cost us points. He's not a bad keeper, he's just not good enough for a side who want to win the title if you ask me.
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16/12/2009 14:11:00

who is that mounting Almunia in the picture at the top of the article?
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16/12/2009 14:11:00

If I remember rightly it was Andy Johnson.
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16/12/2009 14:13:00

He has been no worse than Petr Cech this year but thats nothing to shout about. Guess we will just have to get behind the fella whilst he is being picked that all as fans we can do.
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16/12/2009 14:17:00

Almunia tonight? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
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16/12/2009 14:50:00

And what a RUDE picture that is!!
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16/12/2009 14:51:00

I agree with Rocky7 about making saves look more spectacular than they are. He has a way of jumping very high and kicking our his legs when a simple tip over the bar look like it could work. Its actuallu worse for him because he doesnt extend fully to make the save by jumping the way he does. He is not good enough for me either, he always looks nervous when balls come into the box. He is ok but not good enough as has been said.
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16/12/2009 14:51:00

Paulisto - The main case in point for me would be the David Bentley screamer in last years 4-4. In my mind I see Almunia as think that it was a routine save that he thought he'd make look very cool, and misjudged it entirely. And again at the weekend, he had the ball passed back to him, under no pressure he kicked the ball with his left foot (straight into tough?) when he had more than enough time to set himself on his right foot. The only reason I can fathom that he does these things is to cement his place in the team, when in reality he'd be a better keeper if he cut it out.
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16/12/2009 15:05:00

tough = touch
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16/12/2009 15:06:00

what I don't understand is how Arsene can't see what Almunia's doing when he overdramatizes things, like Rocky explained.
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16/12/2009 15:48:00

If Wenger signs Harry Redknapp tomorrow, and hands him the No.9 shirt, I will complain vociverously, but I'll support him the moment he pulls on the shirt. But I will not delude myself into buying into any hype about him being the next Thierry, Wenger bought Silvestre, and we've learnt to accept him even though Senderous at his ponderous worst is in my humble opinion, better than Silvestre at his best. Wenger can rate him as highly as he cares, the evidence of my own eyes says he's at best an extremely average keeper and we need to be rid of him if we expect our 'keeper to contribute any points in our title chase.
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16/12/2009 15:50:00

Agreed Rocky, he would most probably be a better keeper if he kept it simple. Sad to say, I am too confident with Almunia. He tool Lehmans place after two mistakes, how many as he made thus far? I also think he wouldve done a better job for the Pool goal if he would come and just get the blasted ball with some force and confidence. This team can win it all, I only hope he isnt our undoing.
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16/12/2009 19:32:00

he has risen through the ranks but in too many years. he is near his 30's and is eligible to play for england in world cup. It would be good to see him as 1 of the 3 but not englands number 1
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18/12/2009 01:01:00


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