Manuel Almunia's goalkeeping gaffes were the highlight of an insipid performance against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates this past weekend, in which Arsenal dropped all three points. Almunia had been backed by Wenger and a large section of the supporters to come good this season, after Arsene Wenger failed in his attempt to bring a goalkeeper to the Emirates during the summer transfer window.
Almunia has shown, time and again, that he has the talent to be a good 'keeper, but his decision making and lapses in concentration have let Arsenal down on a number of occasions. Last year, Almunia was sidelined by "injury" in the latter stages of the season, and Lukasz Fabianski started in his absence. Some of his performances were nothing short of shocking.
The young Pole Wojciech Szczesny was excellent on loan at Brentford, last year, and I will present to you the reasons why he should be the No. 1 for Arsenal on a regular basis. For now, Almunia is "injured", so this presents an opportunity for Wenger to promote him to the starting role.
Fabianski Is a Disaster Waiting To Happen
I do not think I do need to say anything more as the above statement reflects the entire story. Whenever Fabianski is between the sticks for Arsenal, they look very shaky at the back, and it seems that Fabianski has a knack for conceding easy goals.
Last year, Fabianski's high profile errors (against Wigan, Blackburn, FC Porto to name just a few) provoked Szczesny to comment that some of the Arsenal goalkeepers are not doing the basics right. We can assume who his potshot was aimed at.
Mannone Does Deserve His Chance, But In The Carling Cup
There will be much debate as to whether Wojciech Szczesny deserves to be promoted ahead of Vito Mannone. Mannone got his chance last year, when both Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski were injured. Last year's game against Fulham at Craven Cottage will be remembered for Mannone's heroics between the sticks.
He does have a lot of talent, but is prone to the odd error. Besides the errors, he was also a failure during his loan spell at Barnsley, but that should not be taken into account. Mannone has shown he has the talent to be a great 'keeper in the future, but he needs to be eased into the team and a run of games in the Carling Cup might do him a lot of good.
This is only my opinion, and I am sure there will be many who will disagree with me. But again, if Mannone is selected ahead of Szczesny and more importantly, Fabianski, then I would not be unhappy, because I am sure Mannone can be great for the Gunners in the future.
Szczesny Has The Talent and Ambition, So Why Wait Any Longer?
The young Polish shot stop-stopper has shown that he has remarakable talent, and his performances for Brentford on loan were exceptional to say the least. He was substituted in the closing minutes of the last game of the season, so that Brentford's fans could thank him for his immense contribution, and that does tell you a story.
He is a tall lad, and can cover the goal, which is an advantage for a keeper (Fabianski cannot cover the goal). He possesses very sharp reflexes, as can be observed in any video of him at Brentford. He is also decisive in his decision making, and has shown an ability to command the defence, which no other 'keeper in our Arsenal can do. It is this ability that gives him the edge over Mannone and why he must be given his chance.
The only fact that counts against him is his inexperience, and that might cause him to wilt under immense pressure. But Wenger will throw his weight behind the youngster even if he does make a mistake, and can he be any worse than Almunia and Fabianski?
Wojciech Sczesny's Ambition Will Drive Him to Success
A few days back, Szczesny said that he was not being given enough chances to prove his worth and also added that Wenger might have forgotten him. The rant could have been avoided by Szczesny, but it does show that this fellow will not be a happy man if he continues to warm the bench.
His desire to play everyday will drive him to get better, and it is time for him to be thrust onto the big stage. A lot of goalkeepers, for example Real Madrid and Spain's Iker Casillas, got their opportunity at a very young age, and they have done very well. A current example of a young goalkeeper performing very well is David De Gea, who replaced another talented youngster, Sergio Asenjo, for Atletico Madrid. There is more pressure when you play for Arsenal, when compared to Atletico, but good goalkeepers can excel in any conditions.
Szczesny certainly has the talent. The only question is his experience. A run of Carling Cup games to gain experience would be ideal, but with the present scenario for Arsenal, Szczesny seems to be the perfect choice right now for the Gunners.