WTTGT Writer: Vivek Arulnathan (Site Editor)
Half the season has gone by and Arsenal find themselves fighting for that crucial fourth spot with Chelsea and Liverpool. It has been a remarkable turnaround from a team that went as low as 17th in the table before Arsene Wenger and his boys responded under immense pressure with admirable steel and mental strength. Led by the inspirational Van Persie, several players have caught the imagination of the fans while others have floundered big time. With a 10 day break before Arsenal’s next league game as they focus on the FA Cup, we will be analysing the performances of each and every Arsenal player this season in the coming days.
Today, we’ll look into the performances of the Arsenal goalkeepers.
For the first time since Jens Lehmann, Arsenal have an extremely reliable pair of hands in between the sticks. The Polish international is just 21 years old but has shown maturity beyond his years with some outstanding performances and has repeatedly proved that he is as important to this Arsenal team as Robin Van Persie.
After a forgettable mix-up at Wembley during the League Cup final last season, Szczesny showed nerves of steel to recover immediately and managed to keep Fabianski at bay for the rest of the season. This season didn’t start well for him as he saw himself ship eight goals against Man United and four against Blackburn. He has since stepped up the plate with the rest of the squad as Arsenal slugged their way up the table.
He produced some outstanding saves like the one against Sunderland and his goal kicks and command of the box have improved considerably since his debut at Old Trafford. He appears a strong candidate to be Arsenal’s captain in the future and is part of a bunch of young academy graduates like Wilshire, Ramsey, Frimpong and Walcott who will form the core of Arsenal’s future.
On the flip side, he has regularly reminded us that he is still 21 years old with some fancy footwork under pressure and a couple of wrong decisions during corners. But these are errors to expect from young keepers as they continue to learn their trade and given the reliability Szczesny has provided the team with, I am not complaining.
He has every right to feel unlucky as it was his injury that allowed Szczesny to make his debut and he has since failed to regain the No.1 spot. But there are very few takers for the Pole as many feel that he is a decent backup at best.
He produced his best performances for Arsenal when he got an extended run of fixtures last year. I don’t think he has the confidence or talent to come in and perform well in the odd cup game. He was solid against Bolton and Man City in the League Cup but his performance against Olympiakos left a lot to be desired.
Was shipped out on loan to Hull for the rest of the season yesterday and rightly so. He did no justice to claims of him being better than Fabianski with a horror show against Olympiakos. Though he was playing after a long time in the first team, you have to make use of you opportunities if you aim to challenge for a regular spot in the team. He is still young and all Arsenal fans will hope that he is able to produce his initial performances for the club more consistently in the future.
Looks all set to depart Arsenal as his dramatic fall from being Arsenal’s No.1 as recent as August 2010 is now complete as he is currently the 4th choice keeper at Emirates. He went on loan to West Ham for a month and that has been his only taste of football for over six months. Not a tear will be shed when the Spaniard departs the club as many will feel relieved to see him depart permanently.
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