Lehmann versus Almunia – A timeline of quotes

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve absolutely had it with Jens Lehmann.

Most Arsenal supporters will be well aware of the trouble he has caused this season firstly with his two massive mistakes against Fulham and Blackburn and secondly with his absolute inability to keep his mouth closed about his opinion of goalkeeping rival Manuel Almunia.

Jens Lehmann has behaved atrociouslyFor anyone who does not know the story I’ll run through it very quickly for you. Basically, after losing his place after the Blackburn blunder, Lehmann has sat on the bench with an apparent elbow injury (is it real or fake, we’ll probably never know…) while his Spanish understudy Almunia has started in every Premiership and Champions League match since. Despite performing quite well, Almunia has been consistently criticised as being an inferior player by Lehmann and the big German has remained adamament that once he became fit from the injury that might not even exist, he will slot back into the side. Now, after regaining fitness, he has reiterated that he expects Arsene Wenger to play him in Arsenal’s next game against Bolton.

In my eyes, there is only one solution to this problem, and that is to let Almunia continue in the starting side and keep Lehmann on the bench until either (a) Almunia makes a significant error or two or (b) Lehmann apologises for his comments. However, looking around at some other Arsenal blogs on the net in the past few days has shown me that not everybody agrees with this decision. When I have made a couple of comments on various blogs about Lehmann’s behaviour I’ve received some comments back saying that Almunia has been just as bad and that the German is worthy of his place.

Baring all this in mind, I decided to compile a whole lot of quotes from Lehmann and Almunia, as well as manager Arsene Wenger in an attempt to show you why I feel that there is no way that German should be brought back into the side until one of the two conditions I mentioned above is met. It all begins after the Blackburn game…

August 23

“Jens is out and he will miss two weeks, I think. Maybe more. I don’t know. He is going to see a specialist in Germany. He had this injury before but it has got much worse.”

Wenger’s comments following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn, in which an awful blunder by Lehmann, his second is as many matches, costs the side the win.

September 6

“I feel I am the No.1 at Arsenal and Germany, although I know I have to train hard every day to justify this. I have not played recently because I could not play. If I am injured, then obviously another man plays. If he is a superman who stops everything, then I may not play again, but from experience, I know I have played constantly and I am not worried that I will not play again when I am fit.”

Two weeks out “injured” does not stop Lehmann believing he is still the number one goalkeeper at Arsenal.

September 9

“I am without a doubt mentally the strongest player at Arsenal because I have more experience. There will always be a keeper who will play better for two or three matches but I have never seen anyone do this for ten games. I know that I have an advantage at Arsenal and that I can keep it. I don’t see any young supermen keeping me out. I know I will be playing again at Arsenal. The coach will let me play. He knows it, and I know it – it doesn’t matter if I have another week out. I have read that Almunia said he deserves to be the No 1 but until now he has not won a single important game.”

Lehmann steps it up a notch, criticising Almunia and implying that he is a far better goalkeeper than his Spanish teammate.

September 10

Lehmann injures his elbow playing for Germany against Wales. Wenger is spared the decision of choosing between Almunia and Lehmann and the Spaniard subsequently continues in goal.

September 27

“I’m playing and I’m very focused on my job. I don’t care about other things. I cannot have my mind on other things. At the moment I am No.1. I have played a few games in a row, I am doing well and so is the team. I don’t think the boss should change anything because everything is OK. I have done nothing wrong and I am trying to keep my level high. I believe I am the best keeper now. I would like to play the whole season. Now I can really say I’m enjoying myself in London. I feel the No.1 spot is mine. I have to grab on to it with all my strength so it doesn’t escape me. This is my moment and I don’t intend to let it go.”

Almunia responds to Lehmann’s comments and indicates that he is enjoying his time as the club’s starting goalkeeper.

October 12

“I know I will play for Arsenal again and think it may well be in our next game. Maybe this break has been good for me. Maybe I needed it. I never like being out of the team, but look what happened last time. The manager left me out for a few weeks three years ago and when I got my place back, I ended up having the best season of my career. I feel ready to come back and play to the same level again. Playing is important, of course, but there is no substitute for quality.”

Lehmann suggests that he will return to the starting side for the Premiership clash with Bolton on October 20.

October 13 

“It’s the first time I have not been playing and that is due to an elbow injury and Almunia has now said he is the better goalie. But if I join a team in which No.1 goalie has been the No 1 for years and also won titles and then I fail to perform, I find those remarks disrespectful.”

 Lehmann criticises Almunia prior to the Germany-Ireland match.

October 14

“It was my first game after a couple of weeks and you never know how sharp you are and how focused and concentrated you are. I think I felt quite good and I performed quite well. I think I will play hopefully next week because I am fit now. I was injured, it was the first time since I am at Arsenal and I expect the boss to play me. Did you see me sitting on the bench once? I think some journalists are losing their intelligence about a couple of weeks. I have not spoken to him (Wenger) but I expect him to play me again, yes.”

After keeping a clean sheet for Germany against Ireland, Lehmann indicates that he expects to start Arsenal’s next match and stands firm with the story that he has been injured, rather than dropped.

Manuel Almunia has earned his place in goals for ArsenalThe first thing you’ll notice about the above compilation is that during the whole time that Lehmann and Almunia have been bickering, it is the German who has spoken to the media on numerous occasions whilst the Spaniard has only opened his mouth once. And whilst the Spaniard’s comments suggested a sense of ambition and determination about the opportunity that has presented itself, a large portion of the German’s comments are purely provocative and derogatory.

Now, it’s probably worth me saying that I’ve always been a fan of Jens Lehmann. I’ve loved his crazy temperament and I think he was truly one of the best goalkeepers in the world at his peak. However, I strongly believe that this has now passed. Under different circumstances I would be more than happy for him to prove me wrong but the truth is that Almunia has done very well in his time in goals and this, coupled with Lehmann’s ridiculous comments, should be enough to see the German kept on the bench for the time being.

If Lehmann did return against Bolton it would be a massive kick in the teeth of Almunia, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave the club in January. As it is, I think one of the two goalkeepers will be on their way out of Arsenal when the transfer window opens and I really hope it is Lehmann. Not because of form or age but because it is obvious that his attitude does not fit in with a team that is built around encouragement and fairness towards others. I’m sorry Jens, for much as I loved you in the past, I think your time is almost up.

What do you think?

Have your say on the Arsenal goalkeeping debate by leaving a comment.



  1. I said it before and i hope Wenger will stick with Almunia in the Bolton game. Wenger should now look forward to solidifying the team and fully concentrate on winnning the remaining games especially the next three games. bolton, Liverpool and Man U. Wenger should also be prepared to bid for Artur Boruc, Akinifeev and Green.

  2. Lehmann isn’t going anywhere because he’s too good and Almunia isn’t because he’s the back-up. At the end of the season Lehmann will leave but Wenger won’t be interested in anything else before then.

    Lehmann might not be back for Bolton but he will for the next game. It’s because Lehmann’s a better player. I think you’re a bit misled because we’ve gotten results but Almunia hasn’t performed well. He’s performed like a back-up and that’s why he’ll be moved back to the bench before we have any games against big teams.

  3. Absolutely agree. His unproffessionalism is an absolute disgrace. Imagine, a fellow team mate criticising you…Publicly. Wenger shouldn’t sell him. He should sack him.

  4. There’s definitely some merit to what you’re saying slick, in fact, in many ways your argument is very convincing. I agree that Lehmann is the better player at his peak. But his comments are outrageous and I don’t think Almunia should have to take it. As I said, I would love for Lehmann to prove me wrong under different circumstances, but after everything he’s said I would prefer if he would just leave the club before his mouth causes any more disharmony.

  5. Wenger should tell Lehmann to wait for his chance.Lehmann thinks more about himself than the team.How can you expect to be recalled when your team mate Almunia has been performing well and your team have won all of their games when Almunia has played.
    Lehmann made 2 horrible errors resulting in 2 goals and 2 points dropped in just 2 games.Almunia has been more consistent and I would rather have him as goal keeper.
    I agree Gallas be back in the team but not Lehmann I hope he isn’t for now because we are winning there is no need to change it,but it is nice to see healthy competition for goal keepers at Arsenal.

  6. Lehann is a great keeper but his attitude at the moment is just disgarceful. Man CIty want Lehmann and i say sell him, get in Igor Akinfeev – a great young keeper or indeed Robert Green i wud not mind. Keep Playing Almunia.

  7. i agree that lehmann is ridiculous in his comments, but many times almunia has made horrible mistakes. on many occasions i had no idea what he was doing, but he no goals were scored as a result because toure or senderos or whoever or whatever might have happened. because of this i feel i can’t really defend almunia so much. i wonder how fabianski feels about all of this. he looked pretty good in carling cup but i suppose that’s not saying much. i have an awful feeling that wenger will allow almunia to stick around a little longer then for some reason will allow lehmann back and then we will lose our unbeaten streak (knock on wood). just my thoughts. hopefully i’m wrong and we stick with almunia or even fabianski.

  8. Lehmann is in the media more because media want to talk to him. No one wants to talk to Almunia. Who is he?
    Let’s put it in perspective. Two seasons ago Arsenal played 4-5-1 and Henry get’s injured. So in steps Reyes who performs admirably as the lone striker. He doesn’t open his mouth and say “I should be the new lone striker” or “I deserve the #14 shirt”. Why, because that would be disrespectful. Sound familiar?
    In the past ten years Lehmann has been named European keeper of the year at least twice. In fact, he’s the current Euro keeper of the year. What exactly the f*ck has Almunia ever done?
    Understand and respectthe difference between a mistake and bad goal keeping. Media reports, teammates saving his neck, and favorable results may have you fooled but not me.

  9. SF

    You’ve skewed the comments in favour of Almunia and it’s not fair. Almunia was the one who started the whole put-down comments when he had the jersey saying he had been waiting to be No.1 and wanted to leave last year and so forth. However, you’ve chronicled the comments to give the impression that Jens is the bad guy.

    Jens may have an attitudenal problem but honestly he’s the better GK and has won things for us and Almunia’s performance to date is nothing to write home about. We’ve just been running our luck.

    1. Against Spurs, the free kick that beat him was bad. Jens would’ve saved that. In the same game Toure had to save him when he rushed out of his post unnecessarily.
    2. Bucharest, he rushed out of his post without any reason to head a ball and again Toure had to save him.
    3. Portsmouth, he punched a powerless free kick back to Utaka and but for Toure again.
    4. Very jittery against Serville, causing blunders here and there but for poor Serville forwards.
    5. Sunderland’s second goal was just bad.

    He hasn’t won us anything, flopped both in the CL finals and the CC finals with goals Jens could have saved.

    He’s not a title winning Gk and we retain him in the post at our peril unless we’re not interested in fighting for the title

    Let’s keep Jens and send him packing at the end of the season and recruit a replacement as Almunia is not good enough.We should start trying Fabianski.

  10. Very interesting comments. To be completely honest, Howard, I looked everywhere for Almunia’s quote from last season but could not find it. However, to say I’ve skewed Lehmann’s comments is incorrect, I went through every comment I could find since the Blackburn game related to the topic and listed it. I also think Almunia has played well, but if Lehmann hadn’t gone on and on about Almunia then I would be happy for him to return because I think he is the better goalkeeper. Slick, I like the point you’ve made about the media not wanting to talk to Almunia. This is most probably true. But the fact is that the one time he did open his mouth what he had to say was quite positive, and nowhere did he aim an attack at Lehmann. I just don’t think Lehmann should get away with personally attacking a teammate of his, I don’t like it and good as he might be, at 37 I now want him out of the club.

  11. Calm down guys you are actually talking about goalies. goalies are not footballers they are handballers so stop talking about them. both of them are rubish anyway we need a Buffon or a Cech. What I want to talk about is a footballer and that is Fabregas. Again rumours flying around from spain.Fabregas this Fabregas that.Don’t you just get fed up with the likes of Madrid and Barcelona with that Look at me I’m bigger than you attitude. Arsenal play better football than them making more money than them there is no point bragain about 9 eauropean cups (in the case of Madrid )5 or 6 of them won in the 50s when no one gave a damn about the european competition. People wants to see something refreshing and new and that thing is Arsenal at the moment. I’ve been to different countries and beleive me The Arsenal jersey is spreading fast. You can’t fool people nowadays people wants to see good football.Can you imagine Arsene leaving Arsenal without completing the job you know what I’m talking about (the Champions league). I beleive the eauropean glory is on its way it is a matter of months not years.
    Once that’s done there is no stoping Arsenal. So fabregas if you are reading this.Stay put!

  12. Le gunner. – Lehmann and Almunia are footballers and they are worth talking about, in my opinion. But I will enjoy the change of topic until Howard and slick have their say again! You have to love a good debate! I don’t think we should forget Barcelona and Real Madrid’s history and I think Barcelona play some truly scintillating football, but their attitude does get tiresome at times. It’s true that people from all over the world absolutely love Arsenal (ask any of the readers from Nigeria/India/Kenya etc for proof) and I think that’s great. I really do hope Wenger get the Champions League before he leaves but we’ll have to wait and see whether that is this year or another one. You can’t really predict these things with much success.

    Ronaldo7 – Why do you say that without any reasoning or explanation at all? I could easily say the opposite statement and it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t attempt to back it up with some reasoning..

  13. my reasoning is….they will both make a mistake in the big game because they have now put so much pressure on each other to not make any mistakes in the big game….watch this space

  14. Back me up spanish fry. No one is denying their history I just had to attack them because I dislike them very much. They act like the bully who thinks he can take things of you just because he thinks he is bigger than you. And I stand firm on what I beleive. Manchester united ,Liverpool, Ac Milan are all big clubs but they go about their business quietly when it comes to transfers. but those two from spain they love a bit of a show and that unsettle players.Any way you pulled me into this goalie debate. its just me I don’t like goalies they can be a pain in the backside sometimes the players do all the hard work and they go and make a silly mistake in dying minutes.Sometimes I think they should turn the goal like the one they use in Rugby and get rid off the goalkeepers. Just pulling your leg spanish fry.Long live goalies. well only when they are good.

  15. Hahah that’s great. I do agree with what you are saying though about Manchester United, Liverpool and especially Milan going about their business quietly. You’re a little harsh on goalkeepers though! They’re pretty important!

  16. You peeps keep talking shit about Jens. Yeah, he had his mistakes in the first 2 matches. But we need this guy. Almunia wasn’t tested during his games because our defense was solid. But in the last match, you could see Almunia’s weakness. I would still stick with Lens as number 1. Sorry guys.

  17. SF

    If we don’t get Jens back at a time big games are coming up then obviously we’re not interested in the title anymore, because Almunia is not good to deliver us the title. May be Fabianski. Almunia is not a winner. He’ll flop at the time when we need him most.

    SF, its not true that he’s been playing well since he took over. That’s why I’ve given you examples for you to check. He’s often beaten through his own legs. CC and CL finals are there for you to see. I personally don’t know why Arsene bought him. He’s not good for a title challenge, period.

  18. Maybe you’re right Howard. But I think all this misses out on the point that Lehmann has and is still behaving poorly. That’s the sole reason I don’t think he should play. I think Almunia has been solid. As I said, Lehmann often has his moments of madness as well so there’s nothing between them really in that department. The Carling Cup and Champions League finals are good examples but I honestly feel that he has improved since then.

  19. SF

    I doubt you’ve been watching our matches since he replaced Jens. Jens has attitude problem which is not good for the team but at the moment we have no choice than to field him and wait for his contract to end at the end of the season.

    May be you’re not bothered about us winning the title.Almunia has not been solid. It’s not true. I know Arsene even doubt his abilities. You review all the ten matches he’s been in the post and you’ll see his low quality as a top team GK. Really, we’ve just been lucky and with POOL,MANU, CHAVSKI and other key battle matches coming up, our luck with him will definitely run short.

    I don’t want us to be making post match lamentations in May. He’s just not a top club No.1 quality. Field Jens and let’s get rid of him after we’ve won the title; otherwise we’ll be laughing at the wrong side of our mouths come May next year.

    A word to a wise is enough.

  20. You make some good points. I have to say that apart from a couple of games I’ve watched every performance from Almunia and I’ve been happy. Far happier than the two that I saw Lehmann play at the start of the season. Almunia has cost us no points and that, as well as Lehmann’s attitude, means I believe he should continue. As for the talk of winning the title, of course I want us to win! How could you think I’m not bothered? I’m a fan, just like the rest of us and I definitely want the boys to do the job this season.

  21. Lehmann has won things in the past but that was then and in the first 2 games, he made terrible mistakes. We were very lucky to win at Fulham and we lost points against Blackburn. Our defence play better with ALmunia in goal becuase we have won games easier. He makes mistakes but his defence backs him up but the defence can’t back Lehmann up.

  22. Lehmann has won things in the past but that was then and in the first 2 games, he made terrible mistakes. We were very lucky to win at Fulham and we lost points against Blackburn. Our defence play better with ALmunia in goal becuase we have won games easier. He makes mistakes but his defence backs him up but the defence can’t back Lehmann up.

  23. Lehmann’s errors have been true mistakes that we’ve never seen before and will likely never see again. Almunia’s errors were down to bad goalkeeping and nothing more. Just because defenders have saved him from embarrassment doesn’t mean he’s the right answer.
    Like I’ve said earlier, you’re fooled by the results but you’ve got to consider the performance. For Almunia to say, according to your quotes earlier, that he’s done nothing wrong is preposterous. His performances have been far from Arsenal quality.
    As far as Lehmann’s comments, they were made to the German media to assure them that their #1 hadn’t lost his club spot to the Spaniard. Lehmann is a world class keeper and Almunia is not. Almunia came from a Spanish club that got relegated and while he’s a descent back-up that’s all he is. Lehmann called Almunia’s comments disrespectful and when you compare the difference between the two then he’s right.
    For me, Almunia’s had a great opportunity to prove he’s better than Lehmann and has failed convincingly do so.

  24. People who talk about how good Lehman WAS are talking about the past but we are in the present, and the fact is that Lehman has been making mistakes not just in the “first 2 games of this season” but for a lot of the last 2 or 3 seasons. You talk about Almunia flopping at important times but what about Lehman getting himself sent off in the Champions League final? How much more of an important flop can you get? If it was me I would have done away with Lehman then as he had been making mistakes for a while and that one summed it up. He’s 37 now and is about the same age as Seaman when he started making mistakes at big important times and Wenger changed him for Lehman and should now do the same again. How many more mistakes does he have to make, how much older does he have to get before people will accept he’s not the keeper he once was?

  25. Also look how much more confidant and assured our defence looks with Almunia in goal rather than Lehman, with Lehman the defenders tend to have a look of panic and disbelief on their faces at every corner and cross of the ball. That in itself should speak volumes, whether you like it or not it seems obvious that the defenders seem to prefer Almunia in goal than Lehman.

  26. It is healthy for the fans to discuss and debate about this issue between Jens and Almunia. But deep inside my heart, I trust Arsene Wenger, and I will respect whatever his decision will be for this weekend. I will have to agree that Jens is a class act GK, even my friend who’s a Mags fan sees him as a great GK. On the other hand, Almunia is an average GK (or maybe he just hasn’t proved himself yet), there may or may not be more potentials from him, but if Arsene sees it or not? Then I respect the boss. I think these bickering and media-injected feuds are immature. I am sure that Arsene is talking with the two, and he’ll work it out. In conclusion, I rest my trust to the boss.

  27. Jens vs. Almunia? For me it’s a tough choice, and feels a bit like a lesser of 2 evils decision at this point. Both have their strengths, but I don’t feel particularly confident in either of them. If I had to pick one of them for a big game right now, my gut would tell me to pick Jens. Like gunnermei, I trust the Boss. He’ll make the right decision.

  28. It’s not that long ago that Lehmann was named the best keeper in Europe. In fact it was less than a year ago. Sure that’s in the past but does that mean he’s washed up? I get it; he made a mistake against Barcelona so let’s pretend that he didn’t set a Champions League record that ensured we even got to play Barcelona in the first place. Let’s pretend he wasn’t one of the best keepers in the World Cup last year. Let’s just ignore that and maybe it will go away.

    If people believe Almunia’s that good then that’s fine. If Wenger goes with him then we’ll see. I’ve already seen enough to suggest he’s not good enough but we’ll let time tell. Time always tells.

  29. How can you say Almunia is performing well. He had one or two solid games but in other matches he hasn’t performed at all. He got all those cleansheets cause team is in form and esp. toure is in form. He also made mistakes but was saved by toure against sunderland and tottenham. Also keep in mind we have never been tested well. We were solid against sevilla so we got a clean sheet but not because of almunia. He will be a below par keeper against good attacking teams. So arsenal is playing well and not almunia. When our team will be tested, almunia will not be able to handle the pressure. I am not trying to defend lehmann but I don’t think almunia is a good golie for us. Trust me, fabianski will be a better option than almunia. If lehmann can change his tempermant and attitude he can win titles for us this season but it won’t happen with almunia. For next season wenger will give fabianski no 1 if he do good in the cup games or he must buy a world class keeper because our way of playing leave gap in defense. With almunia I don’t expect result against liverpool and manu. Manu will try to best to defeat us because if we can win against them we can be unbeaten for a while. So lets put almunia for next 3 games and we will find how better he is!!!!!!!!!

  30. lehmann is the better keeper but he has to stop making stupid mistakes, otherwise he’ll fabianski will be the backup goalkeeper in prem games.

  31. Man, one-sided rubbish. What about a time-line of quotes of Almunia vs. Lehmann? Because you will not only find plenty of whiny and insulting material but also plenty of quotes that are personally insulting and mostly not aimed at football matters. Almunia even said he was wondering if Lehmann had put something in his food to make him sick. The man is pathetic.

  32. I don’t agree with most of this. Noted that this was years ago, and I’m commenting now… Not that I’ve been looking through loads of articles, I just searched Lehmann vs. Almunia and this came up. Personally, I think Almunia is crap. He hasn’t even been called up to play for Spain, unlike Lehmann. Watching Alumina last premier league, he was one of the worst goalies I have seen. But really, Jay, Robert GREEN would be a better keeper? No, just no.Green is the WORST keeper I have ever seen play in the Premier League. He is pure shite.

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