Arsenal rounded of their preseason campaign with a thrilling 6-5 win over Polish side Legia Warsaw. Although the game contained many emphatic goals and was overall an exciting encounter, it did highlight the frailty of the Arsenal defence particulary the keeping department with deputy Lukasz Fabianski particularly disappointing.
The keeper problem has been an ongoing problem for manager Arsene Wenger since the departure of Jens Lehman in 2008. The Frenchman has failed to buy a quality presence between the posts and has been forced to utilize the likes of Fabianski and Manuel Almunia who despite at times being occasionally brilliant, have a tendency to make vital errors and be too inconsistent.
After failing to secure silverware at the end of last season Wenger vowed to implement changes into his youthful squad starting with the goalkeeper. However this summer has only seen a bunch of rumours with nothing materializing ensuring Arsenal will start the season with their same goalkeeping group.
Wenger does boast two terrific youngsters in Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczensy. The pair are highly touted as future world class keepers, but both are still tender and young to be thrusted into the number one fray.
Wenger commented earlier saying that one keeper will be sent on loan this season whilst the other three will stay put to battle it out. The Frenchman refused to elaborate on who the lucky loanee would be thus sparking the question of who should be the keeper to go on loan and who should stay?
Despite the fans dislike, Almunia was solid and assuring during Arsenal emphatic pre season and should retain the number one role for the opening rounds. The Spaniard who endured a torrid 2009/2010, is the least likeliest to depart on loan due to his age and experience.
This leaves Fabianski, Mannone and Szczensy for the loan option. Fabianski has been particularly unconvincing during the preseason and has failed to fix his inability to organise and contain corners. It appears the Polish international needs to play regular football to build up confidence and cure his error ways. With Arsenal gearing up for a championship bid Fabianski is unlikely to be given much of a role.
A lengthy spell abroad in the French Ligue One or the Dutch Eredivisie, possibly even Spain would be highly beneficial. Sending the 25 year old away would ensure Mannone and Szczensy can take up cup roles and continue to heap pressure on Almunia to perform.
However Szczensy is seen as the heir to the Arsenal number one role just as soon as the 20 year old has been properly groomed. A season long loan at the front of the helm abroad in Europe or possibly even in the Premier League or Championship would help further the boom Polish youngsters growth and possibly enable him to be given the top job next campaign.
But it also leaves a question mark over Mannone. The 22 year old has also been solid during the preseason and many feel he is capable of mustering the number one role.
The Italian had little opportunity last season but did look promising especially his famous performance against Fulham. But now it is unclear how "The Don" will be utilized this season. It is highly likely Mannone will remain in North London and receive a full length spell next season. The former Atlanta man will be a predominant presence in the Arsenal cup sides.
So what is to happen with the Arsenal goalkeeping four, who is staying and who is leaving?
With the Premier League season commencing in just under a week, Wenger will need to make decisions quickly in order to prepare his squad for the vital opening clash with Liverpool.