Arsenal FC: A Confident, Motivated Lukasz Fabianski Is a Huge Asset This Season
Like new toys at Christmas, it's only natural for football fans to become transfixed with new signings, not to mention the possibility of players fluttering away from the club.
Human nature is drawn to the dynamic—is a player staying or going, will a new signing fit in with the club's philosophy? "New" is always far more exciting than what was already there.
As Don Draper once said in Mad Men, alluding to the pull of advertising, "new" provides a sort of calamine lotion—an itch that continues to burn. At least, we often feel, until we claim ownership of a new prize.
So it is, this current offseason more so than others, that the majority of news concerning Arsenal has focused upon the future of the team's captain and last season's leading goalscorer (37 in all competitions) Robin van Persie, along with the additions of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
Lost amid the swirl of news is the defense, which apart from being mentioned with possible transfers, has flown under the radar strictly because it has, save for some youth products getting a chance during preseason, remained intact.
But if Arsenal are to realistically contend for silverware this season, thus banishing to the domain of history this current seven-season run of barrenness, they will need a spine stronger than it has been in previous seasons.
Success starts at the back, and at Arsenal that means keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
But one of the most crucial developments this preseason doesn't have to do with Szczesny, or some new arrival. Rather, it is the attitude of current No. 2 shot-stopper Lukasz Fabianski.
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Participation in this summer's European Championships, set to be hosted in his native Poland, likely provided a keen dose of motivation for the keeper.
But luck continued to elude him. A recurrence of a shoulder injury in late May ruled Fabianski out of the tournament. A cruel twist, undoubtedly.
Now, after a summer in which a move away from Arsenal did not materialize, Fabianski returns to the side with a new sense of purpose. Did the injury reinvigorate him, restocking what had been foundering confidence?
What is known is that the attitude he has brought to the new season is a far cry from the one at the end of the last.
He certainly has a role to play, if he is willing to fulfill it.
Fabianski had been a star with Legia Warsaw, winning consecutive "Best Keeper of the Polish Extraklasa" (the top division in Poland) in 2006 and 2007, before moving to Arsenal later that year.
Talent has never been an issue with him—rather, it has been confidence and the ability to perform in key matches.
Whereas Szczesny took to the fiery cauldron of Old Trafford, where he made his Arsenal full-league debut in December 2010, as if it were the only place he wanted to be, Fabianski looked the total opposite in previous seasons.
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But that was more than two years ago. Perhaps Fabianski was never suited for the No. 1 role at Arsenal—at least not at that time.
What is certain now is that a worthy challenger to Szczesny is in the club's best interest heading into this season.
Szczesny had little to no competition for the No. 1 role last season, and one wonders whether it affected his play or kept him from working as hard as he otherwise might have.
As is often said about examinations, feeling a bit nervous—ie. looking in your rear-view mirror, and seeing a contender for your spot—often inspires us to perform better than we otherwise might have.
That could very well be the case for Arsenal this season, and it could very well have a crucial impact on the team.
"I feel confident that I am able to be No 1," Fabianski told the club's official website.
“I am very happy, I must say. I had a little problem with my shoulder but so far everything has been going really well for me. I am happy with my fitness levels and the way I feel on the pitch.
Instead, his attitude has turned from the resigned to the pragmatic—the mark of a true professional.
"I didn't have too many opportunities to play last season but I am always focused and looking to improve, especially dealing with crosses because I think that is really important for a goalkeeper."
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