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Jens Lehmann said......

I don`t usually bother watching the preamble to televised games and on most occasions will only tune in at kick off. Most of the studio pundits are pretty predictable and usually trot out whatever guff they think is current. Too much beautiful football, can`t handle the physical side, youth project, blah- blah-blah. Before kickoff it`s often 'gonna be a real test` and if we`ve won comfortably 'was never gonna to be a real test`. With the possible exception of Graeme Souness there`s little new of interest ever said before a game. But I caught sight of Jens Lehmann in the studio while channel hopping prior to the game and paused to see what he had to say.

He was pretty understanding and supportive of the whole Arsenal project which you can`t take for granted from all past players, other than those employed in some capacity by the club, least of all those actively pursuing a career in the meedja. I rather expected him to be less understanding for some reason I can`t explain. Maybe he just seems a bit of a renegade by nature and not one concerned if he upsets any sensitivities when he speaks out.

I didn`t catch everything he had to say but he made a couple of interesting observations. Referring to the differences between the invincible side that he joined and the team he left he said that the playing style changed when Fabregas came into the side as Vieira moved on. Previously they had moved the ball around with more one touch passing but he feels Cesc is a player that takes two or three touches and those around him also play in a similar style so that they`re more likely to dribble and run with the ball, check back and then find a penetrating pass. Cesc he feels is a superb passer of the ball and particularly adept at doing this but while on the whole it is still very effective our game is slightly slower as a consequence. He also feels that the forwards find it harder to anticipate or predict the pass that`s coming their way now than in the past because it can come at almost any time from any position.

Naturally enough he was pressed on the goalkeeping situation at the club and despite Keys best endeavours to get him to rubbish Almunia and Fabianski he was insistent that both were good enough keepers to enable the club to win trophies. He was adamant that both possessed a very high level of technical skills but it was really all about how they dealt with mistakes, that it was the mental side of their game that they needed to improve. He reasoned that genuine mistakes were rare from either keeper but most important was the opportunity to put it right. If an outfield player makes a mistake and loses his place as a consequence then he can be pretty sure in a normal squad that he`ll get another chance in some capacity fairly soon after. Keepers could find themselves missing a whole season which he feels puts greater pressure on young keepers like Fabianski looking to make that step up than more mature keepers. It also needs a level of ruthlessness towards your fellow keepers whose interests you can`t look to serve if your aim is to deprive them of their place in the team perhaps looking to explain his attitude towards Almunia during his last season.

In watching Fabianski since he has had a bit of a run in the side I am not sure whether the impression I have that he catches and holds a lot more shots and crosses than I`m used to seeing in modern keeping is justified or not but Jens suggested this is a difficult skill with modern footballs. At one time the keeper could accurately predict the trajectory of a shot from 30 yards out from about 30 yards out, he claimed. Now, with the tendency for balls to move so unpredictably so late, that is down to about 7 or 8 yards which is why Jens said that you`ll see many keepers electing to punch rather than catch. I'm interested to see in upcoming games whether my impression that Fabianski punches less frequently than most can be confirmed.

I`m not sure that Jens has a great career as a football pundit but he came across as far less superficial than the standard contributors to these shows.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 4 2010

Time: 9:26AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Really good piece Amos. I saw the programme you're referreing to as well and Jens came across as refreshingly considered and not delivering soundbites. Richard Keys of Sky was going on about Gareth Bale and asking Jamie Redknapp and Leanardo about how great a player he is being viewed as in world football right now. Then he asked Jens what impact has Bale’s performances have in Germany. To which Jens replied there wasn’t since they were more concerned about Werder and Bayern. The extent to which Sky and the British media go overboard about players from the UK generally, and England in particular, is astounding. Anyway, I think it would be great to have Jens involved at Arsenal again in some capacity.
Report Abuse
04/11/2010 09:46:00

I've always said that it's the mistakes our keepers make thats the problem, its the way they andle them ... and it hasn't been very good. But Fabianski is giving me hope he'll turn into the keeper I always expected him to before his horrendous run of form. And yeah, I reckon he catches a lot also. Mad Jens always struck me as an extremely intelligent chap and I reckon he's as entertaining (to me) as a pundit as he was a goal keeper. And yeah, Souness is always worth a watch, especially when shiney pants Redknapp tries to get him to agree with him and he just says "Look ......... " roll his eyes in disgust and goes on to make Jamie look like the fool that he is.
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04/11/2010 09:48:00

I'll agree with that GV - Bale is an impressive young man, and one of the few Spurs players I'll rate, but this praise is going well over board. He is in blistering form right now, over the last 5 or so matches probably one of the best in the world, but that's just it ... it's only been for a short time. People are talking about how he's as good as Messi based off a few very good performances. If they think Bale is worth £60m, then Barcelona really won't be able to afford Cesc next season.
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04/11/2010 09:52:00

Bale has 2 goals and 1 assist in the league this season. Not to say he's rubbish, he's clearly not and is in some great form, but yes, it's all overboard. Just like everyone will go overboard the second Bale has a couple of average games and say he's toilet. The last sentence of this piece I think should have read I`m not sure that Jens has a great career as a football pundit BECAUSE he came across as far less superficial than the standard contributors to these shows. Afterall, Danny Murphy was removed from ITV's coverage of England v Montenegro following his comments on tackling.
Little Dutch
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04/11/2010 10:24:00

Indeed LD. 'Pundits' who are part of the furniture in the TV studios of Sky or ITV are expected to toe the party line however superficial or foolish it may be. Mad Jens is his own man and his trait of seeing through the hackneyed and cliched rants of his fellow presenters may not be good for his longevity as a pundit.
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04/11/2010 10:42:00

Phil Neville, a genuine defensive fullback made Bale look pants. Not surprising he gets more change out of Maicon, who is used to doing the attacking, not being attacked. Not saying Bale is actually bad, he is a fine footballer, but a little bit of perspective is certainly required from game to game, the same could be said when discussing our 'keepers.
Ozi Gooner
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04/11/2010 12:32:00

Jens talked a lot of sense and gave an insight into why he had the attitude towards Almunia and I totally respect him for that. But he can forget about being a pundit for Sky if he insists on having his own opinion. And most of the media as well come to that.
Sir Henry
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04/11/2010 14:22:00

A very good perspective there by Jens. It is frustrating to see Fabianski or Almunia punch out a ball where we feel that catching it would have been the easier option, and thats opinion is expressed by the commentators too. Its good to have that explained.
Report Abuse
05/11/2010 06:00:00

He did speak well and with sensible reasoning. Made a nice change to see an ex-player speaking so well.
SFC Forever
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05/11/2010 09:04:00

Is it just me or are (ex-)Arsenal players quite intelligent and articulate in general? Not talking about my obvious bias but I have this feeling that Wenger tends to sign and develop players who have a brain apart from a football brain. This reminds me of a Daily Mail article about the guy who designs the psychometric test that every Arsenal player has to pass. He said that Wenger only signs players who're intelligent enough:
Report Abuse
05/11/2010 14:57:00

Lou, my non Arsenal mates all say the two pundits they rate are Dixson & Keown. They also say they really like what Theo has to say and his general attitude when interviewed. I'd agree and add Wilshire to that too!
No 10
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05/11/2010 19:15:00


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