Do Arsenal’s goalkeeping problems end with Fabianski?
The precarious subject of the future of Arsenal goalkeeping is explored in this article.
Written by sanchit
If there has ever been something consistently associated with Arsenal for the past 3-4 years, it has been their goalkeeping woes. After the excellent, legendary Lehmann departed, the last sentinel job was put on Manuel Almunia’s shoulders. And god, did he make a mess of it.
Let me start from the West Brom game. Before this game, Almunia had been keeping commendably, not letting anything slip, and it was looking like he had a point to prove to his eternal critics. All gooners had gone to this weekend expecting at least a 3-0 scoreline, probably more. But it was 2-3 defeat that transpired. By West Brom, a promoted side. At the Emirates. Thankfully Nasri was at hand to save our blushes, or it would have been the rout of the season. And Manuel Almunia, again, was at the heart at the scoring.
I had once heard a british commentator say last season, that Arsenal have scored from 17 individuals, only Almunia was left. Well I congratulate Almunia, now that he has virtually scored twice against his team.
Now after the WBA game, Almunia gets injured, and we simultaneously breathe a sigh of relief, and take a nervous gulp. Almunia’s gone, but then, now it’s Fabianski!
But a month and half has passed, and Fabianski is keeping like he was always between the sticks for Arsenal. He has been technically sound, alert, decisive, courageous. And has put in one solid performance after another, despite the rock bottom self esteem he would have after the Porto game last season.
Now there is no longer a collective sigh of relief from both the players and the fans when Fabianski catches the ball. Even Flappianski, his less-than-flattering nickname, might disappear. Now here is the million dollar question : is Fabianski good enough to replace Manuel Almunia? And, does Arsene Wengere need to spend on a keeper this January?
For question 1, I think, yes. Fabianski right now is confident, assured and is on a good spell. Replacing him with the oft blundering Almunia now will not only hamper his moral, but also reduce his belief in his manager as well as his club.
Now for question 2, it depends on the type of keeper Wenger is pursuing. If it’s a stand-in keeper for someone more talented until the summer, then there is no point. There are rumours that Schwarzer will be up for grabs this January because Fulham need the money for a striker. But my question is, why should we buy the aging Australian, when Fabianski and Szczesny (who kept brilliantly against Newcastle at the Carling Cup) are doing so well?
But if you have noticed Fabianski keeping, when he had the ball in his gloves, he takes an eternity to decide who to throw it to. This gives the opposition to regroup and the break fizzles. Compare this to Pepe Reina’s distribution. He is the one who initiates the break for Liverpool. My point just being that, a club like Arsenal should have a keeper who is as good, if not better, than the top ten clubs in the premier league. And right now, I can count Petr Cech, Pepe Reina, Brad Friedel, Howard, Hourelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini, Tomas Sorenson, Paul Robinson at a greater technical level than Fabianski. Even Edwin Van Der Sar, despite his age and now increasing blunders, beats Fabianski.
For me Szczseny is the future keeper of this club, 2-3 years from now. We just need a world class custodian between the sticks till then. If we have to buy a keeper, we need to buy one who is truly talented and world class, and can serve the club for years to come. Lloris in Lyon is an example, Stekelenburg, Neuer, Shay Given. With an $88 million profit, Arsenal can spend the right amount for a decent goalkeeper. Or, we can entrust the fate of the club to Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone, Wojciech Szczesny and Manuel Almunia.
Bottom line: Arsene Wenger, don’t buy Schwarzer. Let Fabianski keep some more. If you absolutely HAVE to buy, it has to be world class.