Given the strong form of Lukasz Fabianski over the past month, Wojciech Szczesny’s impressive performance against Newcastle United and Arsene Wenger’s unconvincing comments on Thursday afternoon about the state of his elbow injury an important question now needs to be asked: is Manuel Almunia’s career at Arsenal over?
In the manager’s usual weekly press conference — in which he also stated that Kieran Gibbs will be out injured for two to three weeks and finally explained Abou Diaby’s Manchester City absence, an ankle injury that will also keep him out from this weekend’s game against West Ham — he looked confused when announced the state of Almunia’s injury.
“I don’t know less… err… maybe one to two weeks?”
Wenger is usually a master at covering up for his players — remember a similar situation for Jens Lehmann in his retirement season? — but I think it’s fairly obvious what he’s up to here. I’d put all the money in the world on the fact that Almunia, who was certainly injured initially, is back to full fitness and the manager is using this opportunity to give his other goalkeepers a chance.
Does this mean we’ve seen the last of Almunia? The answer remains a mystery but unfortunate best-case scenario for the club, if not the player, is that we have. Not because he is a hopeless case, not because I or anybody else doesn’t want him to do well but because if he never makes it back into the team, it will mean that one or both of Fabianski or Szczesny will have taken his chance.
With Vito Mannone loaned out to Hull City and Almunia sitting on the sidelines, you can see what the manager is trying to achieve. He wants Fabianski to prove him right and make himself No 1 and he wants to give Szczesny a chance in the Carling Cup to show what he can do at a higher level. At this moment in time both are taking their opportunities beautifully and if it continues, then it will see Arsenal’s goalkeeper “problem” solved with the final piece of the puzzle being Almunia’s exit from the club midway through or at the end of the season.
It as interesting situation, one that I believe Wenger has handled particularly well, helped by Fabianski, Szczesny and Almunia’s professionalism since the Mark Schwarzer affair.
The outcome at this stage is uncertain but if things continue the way they are then, like Lehmann in 2008, I think we have seen the last of Almunia. And love him or hate him as a player, as a man who has always given his best for the club it will be sad to see him go.
Have your say on the goalkeeper situation by leaving a comment.
A few years ago now, I once saw almunia driving out of highbury.
I shouted ‘lehman, look it’s lehman!’ by mistake, he gave me a look of sadness, dispair and drove off :'(. (this was at the time of the almunia-lehman ‘fued’.)
ever since then I’ve felt bad for him.
I feel sorry for the man. His career started with that harsh call up in the Champs League final. How different his career would have been had he kept out those two goals. Oh well, sad to see him go but all the best for Manny, always had a soft spot for him, he seemed like a truly nice guy, and just as with Eddy, it’s hard to see the good guys fall off.
Yeah. I always liked him on a personal level too. A lot of personal attacks on him and it cant have been easy at all and no doubt but it ended up affecting his performances. I hope he has happier times wherever he goes.
I was very impressed with Sczesny last night, looking forward to seeing more of him. The poles are certainly doing the job between the sticks hey?!
Good to see Koscielny back too, looked sharp..
I think Wenger would like to be able to have a Fabianski/Szczesny Polish 1-2 combination in goals. In order to keep two excellent keepers at Arsenal they have to not mind sitting on the bench for each other and keeping the two Poles seems to be the best chance of this happening given Szczesny’s respect for Fabianski, Almunia’s statement that he would be looking to move elsewhere if he is benched and Mannone’s restlessness. All this depends on Fabianski continuing to deliver of course.
I don’t think you can judge Fabianski on the basis of a few decent performances, he was Flap-Hand-Ski only a few shorts weeks ago and we certainly can’t judge Szczesny after one decent performace, he’s only 20 and most keepers (with the exception of Cassillas) don’t get good until their mid to late twenties. Having said that, I wouldn’t be sad to see the back of Almunia, good luck to him if he does move on though, seems like a decent guy.
I personally hope so. Not because I have anything against the guy, I just want to see SOMETHING give in our goalkeeping department. Anything that brings about a change that hopefully sets a long-term precedent will be good for the club.
I don’t think Almunia should’ve ever been our number one, especially for as long as he was. I reckon he’s there because of a series of fortunate events and he’s never been all-round good enough to be our first choice keeper. If he did leave, seeing the standard of club he went to play for afterwards would likely be the final ‘told you so’ from every Arsenal fan.
The worst case scenario here would be for Almunia to leave in Jan, Fabianski to regress into his woeful ways, and Szczesny to be worse than everyone expected. However, I believe now that Fabianski has had some impressive moments in big matches, and that he’s shown smudges of ability on camera rather than merely in training, he will have much more confidence than ever before, it will hopefully be easier for him to overcome future mistakes.
As for Pole #2, I think he has an air of Joe Hart about him. Real confidence in his ability – not the kind of ‘I’ll bounce back from anything… but not really’ confidence that Fabianski has, or the cult-confidence that someone like Nik Bendtner exudes, but actual real cocky belief in himself. I think it’s essential he gets game time at least, and even if he whinges about being our number 2, I think you need that in a goalkeeper. He should be the most confident player on the pitch.
Its good to see the back of Aluminia nd see fabianski shining.
All d best manny
@Dan, I doubt Szczesny will mind being number 2 to Fabianski (for the time being at least), he has said he rates Fabianski as being better than him http://desigunner.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/szczesny-believes-fabianski-should-have-been-no-1/
i think is over for Manuel Almunia this time because all this youngstar there perform very well, look at Fabiansk against chelsea and manchester city i think he did a good job, I was very impressed with Sczesny last night
Be glad to see the back of Almunia to be honest. I just don’t think he is up to the mark. I also think our defence is much improved over last year (but still far from perfect!). I reckon Gallas was a liability as I hope Spurs are beginning to find out. Koscielny’s skill and composure on the ball impresses me and when Vermeulen is fit those two should be the first choice starting pair with Squillaci, Djorou and Song as back up. Much better than Gallas, Campbell and Silvestre!!!
Two clean sheets in a row – when was the last time we could boast that?
Manuel did his best.But 2 all gunners Arsenal first b4 everyone working 4 Arsenal.Now dat Fabiansky has decided 2 work hard,i think he shld be in goal.Did anyone see how he saved Jerome Boateng & Ades attempts on goal.That was beautiful.keep it up cos u’re a gunner
Won’t miss Almunia no sir. I still remember Almunia’s embarassing comment about him wanting to be England’s number 1.
I think the problem with Fabianski is he over-reads the situation resulting in bad errors. He should calm down as he has lighting quick reflexes. Main thing for fab’perfect hair’ is to keep it simple. If he can balance that he would be on his way to be number1.
For Wozzy, he has all the right foundation as well as that giant boy/man body. He has to be patient, not lose determination as a keeper’s career is longer than most footballers.
Ultimately both need a consistent run of 20games to be accustomed to the EPL, and we as fans have to do our bid to help the poles. If we can tolerate Almunia, I’m sure we can give them both time.
For me our CB partnership should be Verm and Squil, I think thats the balance Arsene should be looking for. But since Squil can’t play all games it prob be Verm-Squil/Kos with Djouro used sparingly.
well, i think it’s high tym Arsene handed Fabianski the number 1 spot. The guy just deserves it and i don’t see Almunia having any prospects of gettin his place back. The other Pole was also outstanding against N.castle. These two guys have a brighter future ahead…keep it! Cheerio Almunia!!!
well, i think it’s high tym Arsene handed Fabianski the number 1 spot. The guy just deserves it and i don’t see Almunia having any prospects of gettin his place back. The other Pole was also outstanding against N.castle. These two guys have a brighter future ahead…keep it up! Cheerio Almunia!!!
Alumnia No.1???? how is this even up for debate??? Are you guys crazy??? Alumunia will not be number 1 for any squad thats in the CL..he’s lucky to be at Arsenal where a managers’s faith has no boundary..he’s lucky to be on the bench and get paid for his services..he is just a lucky guy that has not produced a single good memory.. this year he’s been awful..wondering in no mans land, conceding too easily at his near pot, and definetely a spectator like myself on every set piece…
Did you guys see Wzny punch right at the end of the Newcastle???? That a commanding punch! That is how a professional goalkeeper earns money… Alumnia in 4 yrs have not managed to even grab a ball off corners (the area where Arsenal struggled most).. you guys must be kidding to even mention Alumunia on this blog.. HE’S DONE, fini, caput! ACTUALL HE’S BEEN DONE FOR 2 YRS NOW…LET HIM RETIRE IN PEACE!
Andrew, please .. no more mention of Alumnia, his siblings, his dog, rien!! he’s another version of Domenech as a goalkeeper = can’t get the job done in 4 yrs but still has a job…
I always thought that ALMUNIA was the type of guy whos the MAN in training and when it came to a game situation he would crumble.
In any case lets give fabianski a chance, he looks a decent keeper. The one thing i like about it him he doesnt boot the ball everytime he takes the ball. Other keepers just launches it in the skys.
He understands the power of patience and development of rythm.Eastmond was horrible, he played back far to many balls to the keeper and he is a midfielder. I like is developing especially with the fringe players.
While I agree that Fabianski is a great keeper, all these talk of him being number one should be backed up by the man himself in the coming matches. Let us all hope that he comes up trumps.
I don’t understand this idea that Fabianski lacked confidence before. It seemed to me that if anything he had too much confidence, rushing out of his goal like a madman at any cross or long ball towards his box. What he lacked was calmness. So, perhaps there is a switch that goes on that allows one to control and channel the energy and excitement that come in a game and he has found that switch?
Gooners are a bit hard on Almunia. He has weaknesses bit who doesn’t ……eg Van Der Sar against west Brom…..if that was Almunia,arsenal fans would have crucified him. He was/is an excellent penalty stopper,unlike some gunners,I believe he is decent from crosses and he provided good competition for Lehman when Jens started losing it. 3 reasons why he still deserves at least a chance to fight for his shirt. Fabiansky is great now but he should not feel he has the job yet. Best case scenario is if Almunia decides to stay and fights for the Nos 1 shirt. Wolly is young and should prove himself at Carling and FA cup levels before coming into the conversation. Hart did it at Birmingham. I admire his confidence which is always a good thing but 1 appearance is not enough.
Almunia is a top bloke, no doubt.
If this is the last, then I’ll remember him in that opening 20 minutes against Barcelona in the QF of the Champions League last season, where he was simply brilliant and prevented us from suffering a humiliating first leg defeat.
I have to disagree with you Goonerism, there have been many keepers who are good in their early 20’s – Buffon, Cech, Joe Hart, Reina, Neuer, De Gea – the list goes on. The point is, Szczesny is ready to be 2nd choice at the least. I’d hope that Almunia’s Arsenal career is over – at 33, with the mistakes he makes (and their regularity) I think he’s a lost cause for the very top level. Unless Fabianski does something catastrophic (touch wood, I hope he doesn’t) then I don’t see Almunia even being promoted above 3rd choice. I bet Wenger agrees with this, if he’s being brutally honest.
Almunia is the best of all our 4 keepers and regardless of form and individual convincing performances, that is a fact 🙂
I don’t know. I’m not convinced all the way around and I doubt AW is either. What happens if ‘Flappy’ completely stuffs it up in the next game? Or gets injured. What happens then? Almunia will not go unless we buy another keeper. Flappy’s earnt the spot for the time being. Jens had to sit on his hands and watch when he came back from injury so Al knows the score but it’s all way to soon to be supposing the problems solved. I think we’ll see Almunia back between the sticks again and hopefully with his game raised. In my opinion both Flappy and Al need to be more aggressive – but Flappy’s getting there as Lil Weezy suggested with the punch.
@ toks shaw, almunia cant be spoken of in the same vein as van dar saar, the latter has been consistent for his team over a long period of time, whereas almunia is a decent goalkeeper who lacks the consistency needed to be in a top club. too bad bt i think its the end of the road for him
Lets hope it is the end of Almunias Arsenal career, thanks for the loyalty and professionalism but you simply, even at best, are not a number 1 goalie at the higher level at ANY club……recent results and the emergence of Fabianski and,in particular, Wozzy have exposed him……Schezny against newcastle was the most satisfying goalkeeping performance Iv seen since Lehman and Seaman days, I mean when did you last watch our team and feel like you just wernt going to concede?? And not just that he was roaring orders and marshalling the defenders all night….the guy has PRESENSE and is going to be a top player…he doesnt make a meal of routing catches or saves, he just wants a clean sheet and its a good sign of things to come.
Almunia can have few complaints the manager stood by him for a long time and never blamed him despite consistant mediocre performances, he never inspired the players in front of him and Im sure if you were to ask the Toures and Gallas’s if they were confident with him behind them theyd answer with a firm no….weve seen countless glances of dissaproval from our defenders in his direction over the years and I think its time for a leader between the sticks.
We shouldnt rush into this. Remember when Almunia was pressing to take over shirt from Leman? He was shinning and prople clamour for him. Consequent that we sold Leman.
Fabianski is doing same. We need to be very sure of what we are seeing before selling alumunia.
@Femi Jacobs ……What on earth is wrong with you? We should not sell so he could be ur no1 next season? We have three other goalies who are all angling for games + we could still buy if it comes to that. Are u now more stingy than Wenger?
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