The No. 1

Currently, Arsenal lack a world class goalkeeper.

We have the demoted Manuel Almunia, a world class backup goalkeeper.

We have Lukasz Fabianski, out injured since the Valencia preseason friendly.

We have Vito Mannone, an inexperienced Italian goalkeeper who doesn’t play like an Italian goalkeeper.

We have Wojciech Szczesny, an even more inexperienced goalkeeper with a great build and tons of potential.

I’ve already said enough about Almunia. I don’t believe he’s capable of being a world class goalkeeper. Even at the height of his Arsenal powers, he wasn’t even close to getting a cap or a call up to the Spanish squad. That he tried to qualify for the England team tells you more about the state of English goalkeepers than it does the quality of Almunia. To me, Manuel performed best when motivated to displace Jens, who was a fantastic goalkeeper. When he got there and he attained some security, his performances haven’t been as steady. Unfortunately for Manuel, I’ll always remember him for giving up two goals to Barcelona in the Champions League Final. You may think I’m being harsh, but you’ll never convince me that he couldn’t have done better. He’s been out with a “chest infection,” and now that he’s back, he must be unhappy to not be playing. Cheeky Wenger is, how many players have had “injuries” in the name of real rotation?

Vito Mannone has committed two errors in the last two Premier League fixtures. The Birmingham one didn’t affect us in the long run, but the West Ham one sure did. But I’m not going to be too hard on him. He is extremely young, and he didn’t play much football at all when he was nurtured at Atalanta. Blinder against Fulham aside, the mark of a true number one goalkeeper is dealing with all chances at all times. When you play for a big club, you only have to make a few saves per game. But when you have those shots against you, you must deal with them superbly. People can extol the virtues of Shay Given, but were he goalkeeper for Arsenal or Manchester United, things may be different. Look at what’s happened with Ben Foster. Vito is one for the future. He is still not commanding when it comes to communicating with the backline, but he is brave and has a good build. I wish he would show a bit more anger at times, but that’s just a personal preference. He’s just not really ready yet.

The same can apply to Szczesny. I think he’s an extremely intriguing prospect, but he’s had even less playing time than Mannone. Some say that they rate him as highly as Mannone. He is a colossus and played well in the last Carling Cup tie. Keep an eye out for him.

Which brings me to Lukasz Fabianski. Many are unconvinced by him, and they have a decent right to think that way. He has given up near post goals, and his birthday performance against Chelsea in the FA Cup was disastrous. That being said, at the age of 24, he has been capped by Poland 14 times. He was handpicked by Wenger over false hopes like Craig Gordon. He has outstanding reflexes. He plays with the aggression that I like. He was handed a three year contract at the end of the last season. I really believe in this guy. I think he should be given a chance to be the Arsenal No. 1 and see what he’s capable of. Only a stretch of games can illustrate if you have a winner or a dud.

And if none of these options work out, we may need to buy in January. Who is available? Beats me, although names like Manuel Neuer and Akinfeev float around. But to me, we’re a goalkeeper away from being world beaters. Whether or not the solution already plays for Arsenal remains to be seen.

As for Liverpool today in the Carling Cup, it’ll be a mixture of players from the Reserves and the First Team. Liverpool will have been buoyed by the result against United, but our young players are hungry and our team wants the result after the last two disappointing draws. We play at home, and that gives some of our more enthusiastic fans to experience Arsenal football tonight. I look forward to this very much.


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