As every Arsenal fan sat and watched as Almunia returned in goal on Saturday, many speculated which Almunia would reappear. With Fabianski and Szczesny producing some excellent displays in his absence, you'd expect Almunia to stake a claim for the No. 1 shirt. Being out for so long and with new motivation, some could've expected a brand new Almunia, if only to silence his critics. Coming on against Barcelona; he didn't do too bad, a mistake to allow Messi to chip him, but not much could've been done about the other two.
So when he inexplicably tried to race Squillaci to see who could get to Odemwingie first, many fans had their faces in their palms. Personally, I countered with a sigh of disbelief and muttered "For f@&k's sake" as we went two down, and despite the comeback, it was essentially two points dropped.
So like many other fans, whispers of Lehmann taking over first team duties littered various comments and conversations. I mean, why not? He may have been out for awhile, but how bad can he do compared to Almunia?
Well, the answer is, we don't know and we definitely won't know because, for some reason, I was shocked to find out we've just signed a emergency goalkeeper, amidst a crisis, who also happens to be seeming weeks away from fitness. Wenger has publicly admitted as much, so the question now is, what was the point?
Almunia is not invincible and has been injured a few times. An injury now would really put us in a strange situation. We have a 19-year-old inexperienced goalie and a 40-something-year-old who isn't fit enough to play. Wenger has said indirectly said he won't play Lehmann, so we've still effectively got one keeper who we don't trust. Push comes to shove, Lehmann is on the bench, and he'd still have to come on for Almunia if he got injured during a match.
There's only nine games left. Lehmann could be a month away from fitness, which could be anything up to four or five games. I was pessimistic about the number of games he was going to play, but Almunia really isn't helping the situation.
What Wenger should've done is raid any club for a decent backup keeper who's experienced and solid. What he did was bring a retired player out of retirement knowing he would need time to regain fitness and pray Almunia remembered what a clean sheet was.
So many options to choose from, and in typical Wenger manner, it has left the fans scratching heads. Admittedly, I was quite pleased withe return of Lehmann, but that's as a fan. As a manager, he should've known better and taken the safer option.
Anything can happen in the next nine games, but with a defence lacking a leader and dodgy keeper, Wenger has put Arsenal under even more pressure than they already are under.
It's the middle of March; we have 14 internationals who could still get injured next week. Wenger shouldn't be taking risks after the season we've had. He's not learning from his mistakes and is becoming more of a liability, but I'm not saying he should leave.
Off the pitch, and we're probably the best run club in the world but on, it we are very much a different beast. I'm not forgetting all he's done for the club but I'm increasing becoming aware of the fact he may not be the right man to take the club forward.
Six years in limbo, and in that time, the invisible has been sold off and broken down and a new team built up. There really can be no excuse for this season. Injuries, bad luck and errors aside, we'll just have to hope next season is lucky number seven.
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