Is It Time For Arsenal To Drop Almunia?

Jamrock RoverSenior Analyst ISeptember 27, 2010

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  Manuel Almunia of Arsenal claims the ball under pressure from Chris Samba of Blackburn Rovers during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal at Ewood Park on August 28, 2010 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The weekend is over and with it the disappointing result against West Brom is consigned to memory as Arsenal move on to their next game. We face Partizan Belgrade away from home tomorrow evening at the unusual hour of 5.30pm GMT. From my own perspective it's an awful time for Arsenal to play at as it's the exact time that I get off work. It will take me another 75 minutes to get home and hopefully I will get to see the last half hour of the match.

Poor League Form:

In our last two league games Arsenal have only taken one point and we haven't played particularly well either although we have been magnificent in the midweek games before them. I hope we don't play all our great football in Belgrade tomorrow night and I would gladly settle for a scrappy draw if we could find some good form for next Sunday's trip to Chelsea. That's a game we really can't afford to lose for quite a few reasons.

First of all, should we lose we would find ourselves seven points adrift of league leaders Chelsea after only seven games and that's a big gap to try to make up considering our league schedule over the coming weeks. It would also mean that we would surely drop out of the top four and it's important that we stay as close to the top of the table as possible to keep the confidence of the players and the fans up.

At the moment we find ourselves in third place after "Manure" managed to get their third away draw of the season at Bolton yesterday and concede another two goals to move a point ahead of us. Man City are only behind us on goal difference after their win over Chelsea and the Spuds are three points further back after losing to bottom club West Ham.

The Goalkeeping Situation:

The player who received the most criticism after Saturday's defeat was Manuel Almunia, and he would have to be deaf and blind not to hear and see what has been said and written about him. His confidence is already brittle to say the least and the comments of former players, managers, and pundits can't be helping him at all. Each and every one of them seems to be of the opinion that we cannot win the league unless we replace him with a 'keeper who is capable of playing for a team that want to challenge for the title.

Of course the next option after him is even more unimaginable to Arsenal fans as Lukasz Fabianski was the man sitting on the bench for Saturday's game. I have to wonder if it's time for the boss to be brave and bypass the two 'keepers who the fans have no confidence in and who look to have no confidence in themselves. Surely Wojciech Szczesny and Vito Mannone cannot be any worse than Almunia and Fabianski despite their tender years, and the continued belief being shown in the current top two choices is having an effect on the team and the belief of the fans.

The boss is a great believer in youth and giving youth its chance and I think the time has come for him to back up his belief in his young goalkeepers by including them in the team. It's a risk but I think it's a risk worth taking at this stage and I hope the manager is brave enough to do it, but I doubt that he will. I know the rest of the team were very poor on Saturday too but they can and will be rotated or dropped depending on how you see it so maybe it's time to do the same with the 'keepers.

Fantasy Football:

With no Monday game this week the fantasy football came to a conclusion yesterday and my team lost a little ground overall but it could have been a lot worse. I lost about 20,000 places overall and I'm now 31 points off my goal of making the top 50 in the league I'm running in conjunction with 11Gunners. The league itself is ranked 77th out of over 209,000 leagues which is no mean feat. Here's a look at the top 10 teams in the league.

1DUO's GunnerzDavid Okere33386
Ranking increased2Leave-Ma-ArcelonaGurdeep Jugpal56385
Ranking increased3Finchley Massivealexander harrison46368
Ranking increased4Abba's HorseMichelle Tilley40366
Ranking increased5Lokomotiv GavGavin Ball44365
Ranking stayed the same6RipRoarinRedsCole Friedlander37364
Ranking increased7DEMKINGDOM FC.UKMASTER PENN43364
Ranking increased8MahindraUtdAnkeet Mahindrakar38363
Ranking increased9BishopsAde Adebangbe44363
Ranking fell10GunnerBhoysDave Brown39361

That's the lot for today but I'll be back early tomorrow to preview the trip to Partizan Belgrade.

See You Tomorrow.