Arsenal fans…don’t blame Almunia
I still can’t get over Almunia’s mistake. Every time i watch Brimingham’s goal against Arsenal on Saturday i get more and more angry. My anger isn’t at Almunia though, it’s not his fault. He is a very average goalkeeper who is out of his depth playing for Arsenal. He shouldn’t be playing for a team who challenges for trophies because his mistakes are highlighted more and that leads to added pressure, which he can’t handle.
His effort to save Sagna’s deflected clearance was horrifying. I couldn’t believe what i was seeing, replaying the goal over and over again trying to figure out how he managed to palm the ball so weakly into his own net. (If you haven’t seen the goal yet there is a link at the bottom of the page) To make it worse i was watching it with my mate who’s a Spurs fan. But Almunia can’t be blamed, he is doing his best. Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, his best just isn’t good enough.
It’s easy to sit and say how crap a keeper he is and how much we hate him, but remember Almunia didn’t do it on purpose. He is just a bloke who is what he is, a goalkeeper who is doing his best at a club that his ability isn’t suited to. He should be at Portsmouth, Salamanca or Spurs but he’s at Arsenal through no fault of his own and trying to cope with the pressure and expectation.
My anger isn’t at the Arsenal manager either. Arsene Wenger knows full well Almunia isn’t up to the job. We’re 99% certain he tried to sign Thomas Sorenson in January. Maybe he should have tried harder, but know-body knows the ins and outs and i would be mighty surprised if Almunia is No.1 next year. If he is, I’m afraid it’s more of the same.
No, i am angry with myself for starting to believe we would win the league. Over the past few months when Arsenal have made a superb recovery to get themselves right back in the title race, i never let myself truly believe we could do it. But after the West Ham game i started to dream. I let myself get convinced Arsenal could win twelve in a row and claim an unlikely premiership title.
I am a firm believer that the best team wins the league, and i just don’t think we are the best team. We have too many weak links who play week in week out. Namely Almunia and Denilson. If we were to make a miraculous recovery again and sneak the title, i would feel slightly embarrassed to have done it with such averageness in our starting eleven.
Please don’t accuse me of having double standards and that i was praising him last week after the West Ham game, because i wasn’t. Any keeper can save a penalty now and again. I want one who is reliable and can make match winning saves when called upon. They say a great goalkeeper can win a team 10 points in a season. Just think where Arsenal would be if they had just a good keeper, not great, just good.
I said it a long time ago and i said it as recently as after last weeks win over West Ham, we won’t win anything while Almunia is in goal. And it looks as if i may have been proved correct. Almunia’s gaff let slip 2 vital points in a title race that will take no prisoners.
Manchester United and Chelsea punished Arsenal in devastating fashion and showed just how champions should do it. It’s not often champions drop silly points during a tight run-in.
The mental impact these dropped points could have on the players shouldn’t be underestimated either. When your fighting for the title, players want to end each game buzzing and full of confidence, not wanting to wait until the next game. They don’t want to walk of the pitch, heads down ruing yet another avoidable mistake costing them points, and more ‘what-ifs’ to ponder over. It’s mentally draining.
Just when Arsenal needed momentum, Almunia has created yet another hurdle our young squad has to climb over. In a way the Barcelona game presents a great opportunity for the players to regain confidence. If Arsenal can beat Barcelona then the mistake and dropped points against Birmingham will be quickly forgotten and replaced with renewed vigour that could send us on a 6 game winning run that should see us win the premier league title.
Let’s not even consider the implications of a defeat, it doesn’t bare thinking about.
What do you think about Almunia? Is he good enough for Arsenal or should he have been replaced a long time ago? Please leave your comments below……
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