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A Little Help From Our Jens

A Little Help From Our Jens

After bringing painful new meaning to the phrase 'dropping points', the accusatory spotlight shines with poignant focus upon Jens Lehmann today. The goals against column next to Arsenal's name points to two goals conceded this season, both of which emanated from high profile errors from our mainstay between the sticks. With a seemingly rejuvenated Almunia enjoying some sterling performances in Arsenal's cup runs last season and a talented young upstart in Fabianski signed in the summer, most are of the opinion that it's time to shuttle Jens off to the post office with his pension.

My favourite footballing quote of all time has to be one of one in Brian Clough's literati of gems, 'football is a simple game made complicated by idiots.' Whilst this certainly rings with truth in an one the pitch sense, the game has altered sufficiently for this comment to become partially redundant. Football management has become complicated by blanket media coverage, with it's obnoxious, yet addictive, 24 hour news channels scrutinising every decision. Players' egos are swelled in accordance with increased exposure and lucrative sponsorship deals. Who could forget adidas' dismay when the erection of a hugely expensive Oliver Kahn billboard was accompanied by the news that he had been usurped by Jens as the motherland's gatekeeper? Contrary to the musings of Adam Ant, ridicule is something very much to be feared.

On the surface of it, with two hungry goalkeepers snapping voraciously at Jens' heels, and Lehmann approaching 38, the decision to drop him after costly errors appears cut and dry. If a striker repeatedly misses sitters, you bench him right? But is the situation really that straightforward? Dropping Lehmann now could completely shatter his already fragile confidence. It could also radiate the wrong message to the players with detrimental effects. There are benefits to wielding an iron fist and not tolerating errors, erradicating the prospect of complacency. But Wenger has spoken recently about his young side acquiring the balance between relaxation and focus. Dropping Jens could inhibit the players, knowing that errors will automatically result in exclusion could prevent a team based on fluency and movement from expressing themselves, nerves usually equate to a conservative approach which could damage Arsenal in the long run. The psycholigical ramifications of such a decision are more complex under analysis.

On the other hand, with Fabianski having been signed in the summer, and Almunia proving to be an able deputy, both will feel that if they do not get their opportunity now, that they are probably wasting their time at Arsenal and we risk disenchanting our long term future between the sticks. There is also the question of our back four. Firstly, do they still trust Jens? Remove the two errors, and Jens' general play has been extremely good. He has dealt comfortably with crosses and made some smart saves. With Gallas now out for the next three weeks, Arsenal are shorn of their leader, Wenger spoke about Jens' role with regard to his seniority and one wonders if he will take another senior member of the side away from our backline.

My own view is that Jens' all round play has been good enough for him to warrant another chance. Of course this is a risk, another error against City could damage our quest for honours. But I believe Jens is a mentally strong enough character to deal with this setback. Of course, only the players and the manager will know whether his mental condition is sound enough to play. (It is only on reflection of this sentence that I realise the unintentional humour)! I think Fabregas summed it up nicely with a call to arms, we are a team, we win together, we lose together. I do not think Wenger will drop Lehmann at this stage of the season, had these errors occured in March, we might have seen the new era ushered in. Similarly, we do not want to see a Seaman repeat with a fantastic goalkeeper continuing past his sell by date. But I believe in Jens sufficiently for him to be afforded the chance to prove himself. I think he will relish it, but he must be mindful of those snapping at his heels. Hopefully, this will strengthen his resolve. I suspect this is the way Wenger will go. Your thoughts?LD.

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Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Monday August 20 2007
Time: 8:19PM

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Two snazzy Jens headlines in a day, someone get me a job at a *****ty tabloid!!
Little Dutch
20/08/2007 20:27:00
Two smart headlines in one day automatically excludes you from any possibility of a job at any of the tabloids. You would have to do a lot of dumbing down to reach the average tabloid standard! The good thing about good goalkeepers is that they don't let their howlers prey on their minds. Jens is both crazy enough and good enough to be sure that he will storm the rest of the season. Leaving him in has its risks as does taking him out. I doubt that he will be with us next season so at some point this season the decision may need to be taken to leave him out but we need a good start this season and perversely perhaps Jens is probably best equipped in the early stages of this campaign to give us that stability.
20/08/2007 20:41:00
U don't want to work for a red top! Arsene will stick with the mad one for the time being He knows he's c**ked up big stylie, but I honestly believe he wants to prove everyone wrong who's been on his back in the last week U are right about other aspects of his play, the defense has started to look like a better unit, & he's part of this. I'm more concerned about Gallas being out for 3 wks I think he's taken to the captain’s job with relish; showing that he can organize the team to play for each other No one else will be likely to do this in his absence
20/08/2007 20:44:00
Yeah, I feel the decision to give Gallas the armband was vindicated on Saturday, Toure is a top, top defender, but not really a leader...yet. We were pinned back and Toure did not do as he did against Fulham and push the guys out. I think AW will again use the cups to let Almunia and Fabianski battle it out, and leave Lehmann in till at least spring. And for the record, I would rather eat my own ***** out of a plastic tray before I would work for a tabloid.
Little Dutch
20/08/2007 20:50:00
i agree with the sentiments here. Jens merits another chance. To be honest, it HAS surprised me thogh, you remember how he performed in the season before the world cup? he was majestic, i woudl have thought that he would be super-focussed for this season, with the incentive being to retain his position as number one in the german national team. »»Arsene Knows««
20/08/2007 20:53:00
We live together, we die together - Arsenal for life
20/08/2007 21:26:00
Yep Wingston i agree with that somewhat common sentiment, i really, truly, madly deeply hope he proves his critics wrong. Great quip about his mental stability btw - i bet he has a blinder for Deutschland n all...
20/08/2007 21:29:00
I think it would defintely be the wrong decision to drop him now. Do that now and that is effectively the end of his Arsenal career - not a nice farewell exactly. One thing is absolutely certain though: one more major mistake and he is definitely going to be out. Apart from those bad mistakes, Jens does always look very assured and is capable of top-class saves. Maybe the pressure of the two youngsters is forcing him into the errors? A shame for Almunia, as I think he deserves an extended spell.
20/08/2007 22:31:00
Stick with him and have alittle faith. How many brain explosions can he have in a row? The rest of his game looks great and, as was rightly pointed out, we have had only 2 goals scored against us this year, both Jens clangers. Iron that out, and we are iron shod at the back line.
21/08/2007 00:04:00
I think dropping Jens would do him good. His blunders this season have been so basic I should think Steve Bould would be *****ed if one of his 'keepers made Jenns' mistakes in a match. Look what happend last time he was dropped, it inspired him to the form that we saw on the way to the Championa League final. I do agree give him one more chance before hand though.
21/08/2007 00:20:00
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