Arsenal Keeping Conundrum: Is Wojciech Szczesny the Best Goalkeeper in the EPL?

Callum D'SouzaSenior Writer INovember 9, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16:  Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal organizes his defence during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on October 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Arsenal may be renowned for their young energy, their attacking flair, entertaining, goal producing style of play alongside their defensive frailty. However, one tag the Gunners have never successfully boasted until very recently was the goalkeeper strength.

Since Jens Lehmann's demise and departure in 2008, Arsene Wenger was forced to endure years of criticism for his lacking goalkeepers. Spaniard Manuel Almunia and Poland international Lukasz Fabianski both had an unfortunate tendency to make vital errors and school boy mistakes, constantly eroding any previous strong efforts.

The duo had ability but either suffered from a severe case of nerves or were simply not capable. None the less it ensured the Gunners became known for their goalkeeping frailties. The likes of Mark Schwarzer. Gianluigi Buffon, Jose Reina and Hugo Lloris were all linked with big money moves to the Emirates, highlighting the need for a quality presence.

However, as of the start of 2011, Arsenal fans have been able to enjoy a rare feeling in North London. The feel of boasting a secure goalkeeper. 21-year-old sensation Wojciech Szczesny has been a revelation in the Arsenal goal and at such a young age, the Polish shot-stopper has a huge future.

After Lukasz Fabianski began to show the form and maturity Wenger had heavily promised before a severe shoulder injury in January, Szczesny was promoted to the first choice role. The youngster had joined the Gunners' in 2006 from Legia Warsaw and had gained huge promise and praise from the Arsenal academy officials.

Szczesny had also hugely impressed in 2009-10 when the Poland international amassed 28 appearances, conceding just thirty goals and boasting 10 assists, for League One outfit Brentford. It proved to be worthy accolades as Szczeny exhibited monumental reflexes and reactions alongside safe hands and a composed presence.

This season the young gun has been one of Arsenal's best, with only the magnificent Robin van Persie and Alexandre Song considered more influential in the Gunners' recent form. Szczesny has impressed with his leadership, awareness and even skill on the ball.

A natural leader and an organised presence, the shot-stopper is still only 21, but a Poland international and the first-choice Arsenal keeper. There is no denying it is exciting and safe times for the Gunners.

Szczesny's form has raised questions over just how good he is. With Edwin van der Sar retired after years of undisputed dominance for Manchester United and the tag of the English Premier League's best goalkeeper, it is hard to establish who has taken over the reigns from the Dutchman.

Van der Sar's replacement David de Gea, a big name signing from Atletico Madrid, has hardly been convincing with some precarious performances whilst Chelsea shot-stopper Petr Cech has failed to find consistency and security in 2011-12.

Szczesny has a tendency to be erratic but the agile Poland international is routinely safe and constantly talking, traits highly valued by keepers. However, if Szczesny is the best keeper in the Premier League, many shot-stoppers have strong cases to argue.

Tottenham's American veteran Brad Friedel has been in superb form for what appears an eternity whilst Manchester City's Joe Hart continues to star for both club and country alongside only boast 24 years of age. Furthermore, Liverpool's Pepe Reina has long been considered one of the best keepers in world football let alone the Premier League.

There is no denying Wojciech Szczesny is a superb keeper, but is the 21-year-old the best in the English Premier League?


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