Deciphering Wenger’s goalkeeper comments: will it be Almunia, Szczesny or Schwarzer?

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.

A reminder…

AFCB has three great season preview articles for Arsenal’s 2010/2011 season – be sure to check them out below:

Have your say on Wenger’s goalkeeper comments by leaving a comment.



  1. Bet i missed out on 1st ‘cos i read the artical first.

    Good artical, and i have to agree with it all. Including the prefered list. I’d love to see Chesney given a chance.

  2. The gk problem has been present at Arsenal the day Lehman left.Wenger had been reluctant to splash the cash for a top quality replacement.Had he done so, Arsenal could have won at least one trophy since 2006.
    As it is his dithering over the gk could cost Arsenal dearly if he doesn’t get a reliable replacement.Arsenal maybe one of the top four richest clubs.But fans only know of successes on the pitch.
    I personaly believe if this is another season of under achievment Wenger may call it a day before the board gets tired of his management policy and axe him.

  3. What if the comment about whoever starts on Sunday was made in haste, in anticipation of a deal on Schwartzer being done only for Hughes to scupper it? It’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t happened before. I reckon that you cannot make all the assumptions you have made there Mr. Bloggs. The fact that there have been 5 [or so] goalkeeper quotes and Wenger is even entertaining discussion about this means doubt exists over Almunia. After that you may as well roll a dice. I would be inclined to think that it isn’t Flapianski because of his terrible form. I would accept that it isn’t Szczęsny. Is Mannone out of the running?

  4. Vito is better then Flapianski purely for the fact that Flapianski let in 5 goals against the Spuds. He should have never played for us again after that… Maybe a bit harsh but he isn’t Arsenal standards. Vito’s stepped in and played very well when Almunia and Flappy were injured.

    I think Almunia has a condense problem and is now a different player, he has cost us way too much now.

    Arsenal really need to sort there keeper problem out. Shay Given would be a great signing for us but I think it looks like we are gonna ger Mark Schwarzer, I dunno how much better he is then Manueline but I think he’s had enough chances now and we need to try someone new in goal.

  5. i think Almunia will start…and i’d prefer so…our main weakness has always been in defence making careless mistakes which of course ended up exposing almunia and making him look worse than he actually is…i agree schwarzer is way better though though…

  6. I wish we buy Schwarzer asap as tho old and not the best he is solid+experienced and will give us comfort for 2 years in which time Mannone and Scezny can improve.I would buy the Aussie, keep Almunia as sub for 1 year and Scezny no.3. Sell Flapianski and loan out Mannone (as he needs to be playing the most-Scenzy played a lot last year.) Then next year sell Almunia and have Sceny/Mannone start pushing d Aussie for no 1!Of course Given would be a notch better but thats just a dream and i am being realistic…We also need DM/CB cover so i reckon Scarner on a free would be a real scoup!!

  7. ‘all the keepers are great’ He didnt really say that did he !
    we are a bloody laughing stock! All our keepers are shit!

  8. Proves my case, he has lost it as he states that all his keepers are great. What chance have we got of winning anything with these idiots in goal, and a ” half wit” and excuse king in charge.

    Old Gooner

  9. Almunia has already said that he will leave if he is not given the number one spot. Fabianski has no confidence and does not instill any in the defenders. Mannone has started only a handful of top games. Sczcesny has no premiership experience whatsoever.

    Unless a goalkeeper miraculously emerges before the 1600 hr kick off Almunia is the only realistic option.

    This situation cannot be allowed to continue. I believe that Wenger will sign a new and experienced ‘keeper in the next week or so and that Almunia will probably return to Spain. Fabianski should either be sold or sent out on loan, he is entirely useless in his present state of mind.

  10. My pick’s on Almunia…Fabianski is too unreliable and never impresses when given the a big game like this, we need our best bet which is Almunia and hopefully he doesn’t fumble too much…then we sign Schwarzer within the next week and play him in our next game which is the potential bananaskin which is Blackpool after their thumping of Wigan..

  11. Even if we sign Schwarzer today he cant play at Anfield, players have to be registered by 5pm on the Friday before each weekend round in the EPL, That said, i fully agree that if he signs he is a big step up from what we have. As for this game, I hope Almunia plays and pulls out a display like at Old Trafford in the CL semi a couple of seasons ago!

  12. my pref…

    Mark Schwarzer, Wojciech Szczęsny, , Vito Mannone, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski

    that is, WS on bench

    if we even contemplate MA or LF, i might as well take my chance with WS or VM. if they screw up, well, MA and LF already proved they could so what’s the big deal? i’d just write it off to actual training / learning then… that is, if we don’t have MS in time (probably wishful thinking)

  13. @ km1980 – Thanks for that information. It obviously makes a lot of sense – otherwise players could turn out for two clubs in the same weekend.

    I still find it interesting that “whoever plays on Sunday will be our #1” if we’re still looking at signing Schwarzer. I’m not sure what to make of it all.

  14. @ Old Gooner – I don’t think the statement “proves he has lost it”. You want to beat Liverpool today don’t you? Criticising our goalkeepers in the media on the eve of the first game of the season would make me think he had lost it, not supporting them with positive comments.

  15. It’s the hope that kills me! I like your train of thought, it’s highly unlikely yes, but crazy enough to be possible. Mmmm. You’ve got my hopes up now. =)

  16. @ Andrew – I think wenger has little choice than to make this public statement, even if it turns out not to be the case. Whoever does play on Sunday needs to have the belief that the manager thinks they are good enough to be Arsenals number 1. It seems to be at trait of our keepers that their form is dominated by their personal confidence, and they are so fragile at the moment that even the slightest hint from wenger that another guy will come in regardless of how they perform at Anfield will probably be enough to put them off their game.

    Andrew, on a seperate note, did you ever watch the A League much when you were back here in Oz? If so just wondered what you thought of the Melbourne keeper from last season who got sold to Borussia Dortmund last month. He looked very promising.

  17. @ km1980 – I don’t know a lot about Mitch Langerak (the keeper sold) to be honest, but Australia does have a habit of disproportionately producing good goalkeepers. I’m in Germany at the moment though, so hopefully I’ll be able to see him play a game or two (or sit on the bench, at the very least) this season.

  18. Please please please Mr Wenger, go and get Shay Given. He would be perfect and save us 10 points this season

  19. “Australia does have a habit of disproportionately producing good goalkeepers” – Soceroos’ keepers get a lot of practice!! 🙂

  20. It would probably be Almunia who starts, it dosen’t make much difference whether its Almunia or Schwarzer. Schwazer is just a bit better but both are not really of Casillas standard.It dosen’t matter to me now, it’s too late anyway to buy a goalkeeper.

    The important thing is we must win because we are a team fighting for the league, even if we lose I hope the attitude is different than last season complacent laziness, fans can accept defeat but most won’t accept a lazy attitude.

  21. I can see it now, come kick off Mark Schwarzer walking out as Arsenals Number 1, fans cheering, making big, game changing saves. This is what we have lacked for a number of seasons.

  22. I love Schwarzer – still if we had the opportunity to sign Given from Man City (unlikely) – I’d take him over the Aussie.

  23. Let’s bet that no more signings are coming in at arsenal am dam sure. The keepers we have made mistake last year that a primary school keeper would not make Yet we have no new keeper and the same thing is happening again. If wenger wanted Schwarzer so bad then just pay the 4 mill that fulham wanted this is the same thing with cesc so why should fulham budge
    This team better better play well to day and don’t loose because if they do wenger will have to answer…….

  24. Nasri is involved in everything at the moment. Solid at the back. Wilshere playing well. Diaby needs to get involved more.

  25. Laurent Koscielny potentially crocked on his debut, with only an unfit Song on the bench capable of replacing him. Oh my days, if Arsene doesn’t see a problem with that I don’t know what will persuade him to bolster the back line!

  26. hard work, no great goal but a goal, and Rosicky took a shot or better a cross, I don’t think he had the intention for a goal-shot, but he shoot the deputy . . . the best which could come out of this game, I would say . . .

  27. only one center-half available at the moment & it’s the start of the season. Kosch sent off & JD injured……… It’s just ridiculous

  28. @kel

    Answer? arsene need to answer to who?you? why I may ask? You do nag on Arsene a lot just like a mother. Arsene is here for another 3.5yrs therefore I really look forward to your comments untill his contract ends, if your still supporting Arsenal that is, since I don’t forsee any trophies for the next 4 years.

  29. @ Ianinja Saddam Hussein thought he would be around a very long time too but guess what? u never no what can happen…………

  30. just read arsene said almunia had a good game,what rubbish,he was really poor in positioning himself for almost all their corner kicks,sometimes i think with this kind of comments wenger is trying to fool the fans into thinking the opposite of what they saw.Seriously we need a keeper,or just give us the best of what we have i wouldn´t mind seeing VM,there, he still is undeafeted in the premiership.And the idea of going at it with just three centre backs IMO,is gonna bite us in the gut soon.Really need to get our house in order,its a new season.

  31. Better team in the first half without looking particularly dangerous. Keeper makes several errors on crosses and corners. Suddetnly the defence looks nervous and we go behind. Talk about deja vu. And now Koscielny will be suspended, Djorou already crocked and Song out with a calf injury. My normal start of season optimism is being sorely tested!

  32. Rubbish. We were lucky we got a point. Almunia was poor and we don’t have a holding midfielder. Diaby can’t play that position he just can’t. Jacky boy clearly not ready to carry the load at this level. I did think the back four look promising but it won’t be the same the next two games because of the suspension.

    We are a better team than this. At least Arsene made subs with the intention of going for it instead of waiting till the 80 minute to make a change. In the end though it was Pepe who gifted us what we shouldn’t have had.

  33. I don’t get it! what game was wenger watching almunia was too slow to get across that’s why the guy scored and he said he had a good game dat is so sweet
    How does wenger sleep nights when he continues to ignore the needs of this team. We escaped today @pool who mind you had 10 men boy when cesc leaves next year where in real mess
    But as wenger says every year judge us @ the end of the season LO……………..

  34. Well a mixed game really. Outplayed Liverpool for most of the it, but we had no cutting edge in front of goal, can’t remember us even having a shot in the first half. Was this down to tactics or basically our forward thinking players didn’t know what to do? Almunia looked as flappy as ever and Arshavin simply does not look interested in tracking back. Koscielny should not have been sent off, apart from that, he seemed quite steady. We desperately need a player to break up the play and a new keeper. We had them over a barrel for the last 15 mins, so it didn’t really surprise me that Reina dropped a clanger. Top 4 for us?? Wenger needs to up it and break the bank for some signings.

  35. It’s a big ask – Anfield on the very first day of the season. 2 Prem league debutants and a kid. All the same I was disappointed. We were slow going forward. Seemed to lack urgency and ideas and had surprisingly few genuine goal attempts. As so many times before there was too much faffing about and sideways passes. It almost felt like a step backward. What does it take to iget this team fired up? Diaby was practically asleep (sigh). Only when Walcott and Rocky came on did I feel we started to take off. There were positives though. I thought Kosh was good and Chamakh basically made the goal – put it this way, it wouldn’t have happened without him. Vermaelen was excellent.
    We need Song we need Fabregas and we need Van Persie. We also need a big defender.
    I’m sure we can pay better than that and it’s good to know that as far as the Prem goes we don’t have to go to Anfield again all season. It’s done and we got a point out of it.
    I’d just also like to say, not as a defence of Almunia, but whatever, that if he had made the mistake Reina had we’d all be pulling our hair out now and cursing AW for not getting us a GK. So even great keepers, as Reina surely is, can stuff it up. That wasn’t his only error in the game either.

    – I thought the kit looked smashing.

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