Manuel Almunia Has the Chance To Prove Arsenal Doubters Wrong

Kevin LeeContributor IAugust 31, 2010

LONDON - OCTOBER 07:  Manuel Almunia of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on October 7, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Arsenal fans had to face the music; unless Arsene Wenger was willing to vastly overpay the odds, he and Arsenal were not going to get a new goalkeeper.

Wenger was actively pursuing Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer throughout the transfer period. But Wenger missed out on Schwarzer more because of the lack of replacements available to Fulham gaffer Mark Hughes than anything else.

With Manchester City keeper Shay Given, Hughes' primary target, staying at Eastlands and impressive young Fulham keeper David Stockdale sidelined for weeks with ligament damage, Hughes was not keen on selling Schwarzer.

Arsenal fans will recognize karma's role in their failure to nab the Australian international. Just weeks ago, Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas caused a stir by asking for a transfer to boyhood club Barcelona, only for Wenger to reject the Catalan club's overtures.

Now Wenger is the one being stonewalled by a manager who is defying his player's wishes to leave. And just like Barca with the Fabregas drama, there's the possibility that Arsenal could pursue Schwarzer when the transfer market re-opens in January.

But the immediate focus for Wenger must be on restoring team chemistry and the confidence of Arsenal's first-choice keeper Manuel Almunia, a sizable challenge considering the Arsenal manager's public pursuit of Schwarzer.

Wenger has had recent experience with restoring a player's mentality—two seasons ago, Emmanuel Eboue drew the ire of Arsenal fans for a particularly bad run of form, including the distinct humiliation of being subbed out after coming into a game as a substitute.

That part of Eboue's career has faded from memory because the Ivorian demonstrated grit and determination and earned back the fan's respect. Almunia, with three encouraging displays so far this season, now faces a similar journey to redemption.