On the eve Sunday’s season opener against Liverpool the biggest talking point in the Arsenal team, that of who will start in goals at Anfield, has become even more debatable.
Arsene Wenger, speaking at the pre-game press conference, confirmed that whoever starts as goalkeeper on Sunday will be Arsenal’s No 1 for the season, but remained intriguingly tight-lipped about his decision.
Let’s look at the quotes:
“The goalkeepers are great, all ready to play. I just wait for my decision and you will get it soon. The guy who plays on Sunday will be No 1. It is never for definite but it will be a consequence of what I have seen in pre-season.”
There’s nothing much given away here but it is good to know that whoever plays will be given the confidence boost of being known as the No 1.
“[Szczesny] has not played one game in the Premier League. I believe he has huge quality but I believe it would be a great gamble to play him.”
I’m uncertain as to why Szczesny has been singled out (although it’s likely he was asked a direct question about the Pole’s chances of getting the shirt) and I find this answer rather intriguing.
If Szszesny is not in the running, then why wouldn’t Wenger just rule him out?
Is he just having fun with the media or is there actually a real chance that the young Pole, who handled his time at lower league Brentford superbly last season and has been called Arsenal’s best goalkeeper by Young Guns author Jamie Sanderson, could start?
“Man United play with a goalkeeper who is 40 years old and Chelsea with a keeper with seven years in the Premier League. You need experience at the back.”
This comment strongly suggests that Manuel Almunia will be recalled for the Liverpool game and, rather disappointingly given the need for improvement in the goalkeeping position, be given the No 1 shirt for the season.
There is a romantic contrast to this conclusion though; that Mark Schwarzer will sign before Sunday’s game and walk out at Anfield as Arsenal’s new goalkeeper.
It may seem unlikely to see something happen so quickly but with the Australian missing Fulham’s season opener against Bolton with a phantom back injury and Mark Hughes confirming he has requested a transfer, it’s not impossible.
Wenger’s comment about Edwin van der Sar being 40 and Petr Cech having enormous experience could be in part justification for the future signing of Schwarzer, who is 37 and as experienced as any other goalkeeper in the Premier League.
Stranger things have certainly happened, although Wenger will have to get a wriggle on.
Just for the record, if I had to place the five goalkeepers in order of preference for today’s game it would be as follows: Mark Schwarzer, Wojciech Szczęsny, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone.
AFCB has three great season preview articles for Arsenal’s 2010/2011 season – be sure to check them out below:
- Arsenal FC Blog re-launches for the 2010/2011 season
- AFCB’s Arsenal 2010/2011 Season Preview
- AFCB Writers’ 2010/2011 Pre-Season Arsenal Predictions
Have your say on Wenger’s goalkeeper comments by leaving a comment.