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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Almunia back between the sticks?

Having started the season anointed as Arsenal's number one following Wengers pre-season kick off announcement prior to the opening game at Anfield, Almunia could be in for a shock return against Huddersfield on Sunday. As it would seem evident that he is on his way out with Wengers blessing is there any point in him stepping between the posts for us again?

"The guy who plays on Sunday will be No 1. It is never for definite but it will be a consequence of what I have seen in pre-season." Arsene announced back in August expressing reservations about throwing Szczesny in to the arena

"He has not played one game in the Premier League," he said. "I believe he has huge quality but I believe it would be a great gamble to play him. Man United play with a goalkeeper who is 40 years old and Chelsea with a keeper with seven years in the Premier League. You need experience at the back."

As is often the case though fate takes a hand and an injury to Manuel in September`s shock home defeat to West Brom, in which he mishandled a shot to concede the third goal, opened the door for Fabianski whose stock among supporters had started the season even lower than that of the Spaniard.

Some good performances, notably a penalty save against Partizan Belgrade, a sharp stop from Silva`s early attempt in the away game against City and some key saves away at Wolves and Everton slowly earned Lukasz some confidence among supporters as the preseason 'keeper crisis' hysteria cautiously subsided. As Szczesny dithered a little before signing a new contract fate again took a hand and rewarded his decision to stay as a hip injury kept Fabianski out against ManU at Old Trafford. Szczesny deputised and though we lost did little wrong against a muted United attack.

After another injury kept Fabianksi out after 4 games over the new year Szczesny has had a run of 6 games 4 of which were against championship opposition and the other two against lowly premier league teams West Ham and Wigan. Although any team is capable of providing goalkeeping challenges as Bradley Johnson demonstrated for Leeds, it`s the sort of relatively tranquil run that any premier league keeper would enjoy. "Did anyone even notice I was playing?" Szczesny apparently tweeted after the Ipswich game at the Emirates.

On the surface there doesn`t seem any need to give Almunia anymore playing time but then are two keepers, one still very inexperienced, despite all his promise, enough to cover us sufficiently in the challenges that are hopefully still to come this season? There is still much we don't know about Szczesny. How will he react if he goes through a bad period as almost inevitably he must? He doesn`t look as though he`ll lose his nerve in big games when put under genuine pressure but confidence can be a fragile commodity. Though less than the gamble he might have appeared to Arsene at the beginning of the season all young players are invariably vulnerable to inconsistencies. Fabianski`s current injury is apparently a minor setback to shoulder injury that has persisted for a few weeks. Maybe he`ll recover fully and never experience another problem for the rest of the season but minor injuries can sometimes prove annoyingly persistent.

Almunia's time is all but over at the club but whatever the criticisms of him he has played almost as many games as Lehmann and provides us with good level experienced cover. It makes sense to keep him until the end of the season and it's probably wise to let him have a game against Huddersfield at the weekend too.




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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 28 2011

Time: 11:38AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I would keep chesney there for the weekend, he's probably gong to lose his place once Fabianski is back so I would keep him for the cup games.
Dberg
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28/01/2011 11:53:00

I'd be aghast if Manwell plays again if it's not cover for Chesney/Fabianski. I think Fabianski's stock has grown not down to good saves and performances (as he's shown glimpses of since he joined) but him not making monumental foul ups.
shewore
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28/01/2011 12:01:00

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!
Armory
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28/01/2011 12:54:00

I would prefer that Almunia stuck around till the season end. There is no point in being short of cover in such a critical position, esp towards the season end.
prits
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28/01/2011 12:57:00

I can't imagine why anyone would be opposed to this. I know he's not the most popular player, but how can anyone (bar Almunia himself) complain about having Almunia as a 3rd keeper? Bizarre.
Little Dutch
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28/01/2011 13:16:00

3rd keeper is absolutely fine, he'd be a top notch back up keeper! Just not at the expense of someone who's developing, struggle to see the point.
shewore
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28/01/2011 13:20:00

LD I have no problem with him as 3d choice keeper but NOT as anything else. Fab and Szcessz...........izceny are fist choice and why not give Oshea a chance?
Armory
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28/01/2011 13:24:00

AW just said at press conference Szczesny will continue tomorrow and Almunia will be on bench.
Little Dutch
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28/01/2011 13:26:00

another silly move if wenger puts almunia bck in goal..... don't know what he's trying to achieve there.....he sud b lucky he has 2young potential keepers there......& they need games under they're belts..... however, vital games almunia may b called bck...only 'cos of his experience... pitty fabianski injured @mo, shud give him rest of season @#1 to gain confidense & experience.....+ i believe Szczesny will come thru as #1.....needs 2beef up though.... anyhow's,....wenger...start looking @another holding midfielder as cover for song & another right winger...(a player that can run & cross arsene!!!)... we shud b ok from there....... p.s,.....emirates.....make some noise.....& don't let the away fans b heard.... luv gunners 2the death...
kingjack
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28/01/2011 16:17:00

The fact that he's on the bench tomorrow suggests he's only going to be back up and therefore shouldn't "kill" Fabianski or Szczesny.
Little Dutch
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28/01/2011 17:13:00

fkn l bruv wots dat txt spk givn mans bare ed8ches lolz.
shewore
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28/01/2011 17:59:00

lmao @ shewore..... !!!!!!
gunnerkid107
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28/01/2011 18:17:00

How do you guys interpret Wenger's latest comments that Wojciech is a our number 1? Is it number 1 till Fabianski returns or number 1 for good. It wasn't that long ago he said Fabianski was the number 1 at Arsenal.
gronedrone
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28/01/2011 21:10:00

I'll bet Bacary Sagna noticed Szczesny was playing against Ipswich!
grouvillegooner
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28/01/2011 21:59:00

I totally agree with shewore- I think. But his post did make almost as much sense as the one it was responding to! Sometimes you have to read between the lines, but I think Wenger has said that Fabianski is no. 1, Chesney no. 2, and he's happy to have Almunia around as experienced backup. And so am I- he's far better than he's given credit for, it's just that he's always been a capable backup, never the man you could rely on for the 10-12 points a top keeper can add over a season.
elbondo
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29/01/2011 00:18:00

I think Almunia was our number 1 a season too long for him to ever be looked upon with any kind of fondness. Not his fault of course, he is a decent keeper, a steady eddie and had a few standout games in his time.
iceman10
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29/01/2011 07:46:00

The way I see it the pecking order when everyone's fit is 1. Szczesny 2. Fabianski 3. Almunia 4. Mannone 5. Shea The first two are the ones that are going to fight it out for the first team. And I think Almunia will get a few cup games if one of those two is injured. Shea needs time still to develop and I don't think Mannone is ever going to make it at Arsenal. Also did anyone notice the timing of the news that Almunia is back from injury. Right at the end of the transfer window. I think Almunia was as good as gone from Arsenal at one time but maybe he made up with Arsene in the past couple of days and Arsene "made him fit". Just a theory
Eboue=GOD
Report Abuse
29/01/2011 14:49:00

Put him in goal and watch the back four lose their confidence with the first flap at a corner that he has no chance of getting to. A VERY BAD MOVE.
Will-i-am10
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29/01/2011 23:52:00

 

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