Fabianski and Anfield

The knives are out for Łukasz Fabianski.

The neutral journalists have written what they think, but fortunately, the bloggers haven’t stuck the knife in all the way just yet. A large part of that is due to the fact that he’ll still have to play today against Liverpool.

Wenger has quickly come out to defend him, while not absolving him of blame. That is the correct move. One cannot deny that the two goals may have been averted.

That being said, in both situations, it was a combination of mistakes that led to the goals. In the first goal, where Malouda was clearly offside (and not written about very much in the papers), Eboue failed to close down Malouda. This allowed a virtually free shot that crept in at the near post. I’ve seen the replay several times, and I have no idea how it just crept in. Fabianski’s positioning is what let him down here, and he’ll have to improve in that department. On the second goal, Silvestre should not have let the ball bounce. Fabianski rushed out, wrongly, and tried to cut Drogba off. The ball was virtually identical to the one that Agbonlahor latched onto when he beat William Gallas with his paced and fired a quick shot that beat Almunia. In that situation, Almunia stayed behind but was beaten anyway. What Fabianski did shows that he’s brave, but he’s not savvy enough yet to realize that when your rush out for the ball like that, you must stay within the box so that you can use your hands. When a goalkeeper cannot use his hands, he is half as effective. Thus, Drogba easily swept past Fabianski to score the goal. That Silvestre gave up is cosmetic, there was no way Drogba was going to miss. If Fabianski didn’t come out, Drogba would have had a 1 v 1 against Fabianski, something we would take now surely instead of what happened. Perhaps, if we had our normal back four, he wouldn’t have come out so quickly.

So, there you have it. Three days after an excellent game against Villarreal, a game in which he showed similar aggressiveness playing sweeper to effect, Fabianski had a horrid day on his 24th birthday.

And with that came the rage of the fans. Incredibly, my roommate pointed out a remark he read on his Facebook page from an Arsenal “fan.” He told me it upset him so much, and he could really care less about Arsenal. The remark:

“That Polish idiot should have stayed home for his birthday.”

While getting some ice cream, I ran into Arsenal fans (they had Arsenal jerseys on). They were ripping Fabianski and had read that it was his birthday. He also said, “maybe he’ll get better like Alex Song.” I replied, “I never killed Alex Song.” He said back, “I sure did.” He almost said it with pride.

What is it about our fans that takes such joy in ripping our players? Surely, they’ve made mistakes, but this is absurd.

I was saddened by the loss. I felt that we could have won, but we didn’t. It ruined my day. But I wasn’t about to savage our team members to make myself feel better about it.

As for Fabianski, Wenger said everything that I believe. I do believe that he can be an excellent goalkeeper. His reflexes are top notch. He is brave. He is not scared. He is young. At the age of 24, he has been capped 14 times for Poland. He is two years younger than Ben Foster and Craig Gordon. He is a capable backup with the potential for great things. He didn’t have the best game to be sure, but let’s not kill the lad just yet. Arsene said he can be one of the best goalkeepers in the world, it was rebuilding confidence to be sure, but he does mean it.

It’s been twenty years since we pulled off the shock of the decade to win the title at Anfield. Without Steven Gerrard, they’ll rely on Xabi Alonso to be the creative outlet. The player I fear the most though is Yossi Benayoun. That guy seems to make things happen at an absurd rate. We’ll be without both Adebayor and van Persie, but Eduardo may play a part.

Despite what people think, we’re not resting players for the United tie in 8 days time. Finishing third should be a big priority now. Arshavin didn’t play a full 90 minutes on Saturday, and Arshavin is a better player than Benayoun.

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