The Jury’s Out: Goalkeepers…

Since the departure of David Seaman, have we really replaced him? Well, I don’t think we felt we had when we signed Lehmann, but I’m sure a lot of you have looked back at his career and can now safely say that as a goalkeeper he was decent. World class, no – decent, good, capable of making saves, yes. His temperament was the outstanding issue and in the end, it was what caused him to leave. I don’t think Almunia is a better keeper but at the time, I was campaigning – like we all were – that Almunia be given a run in the team. But a few years on, and the progress of our “number one” has been small, if at all progressive. The Jury’s Out…

Manuel Almunia

The Spaniard is our current number one. He was plucked out of the second division whilst playing on loan at Albacete from Celta Vigo. His move to Arsenal, was one of the highlights of his career and he was brought in as a cheap backup player to then number one, Jens Lehmann. We won’t really know the background, but with Almunia showing signs of rapid improvement and Jens Lehmann’s character becoming a problem, the Spaniard got the number one shirt. But last season, Almunia was “found out” – personally admitting to the bad form he was going through. Despite many objections, Arsene stuck with him, hoping the backing of the player would ignite some form. This season however, he seems to regressed even more and potentially, he could be near the end of his career. It’s a strange one, because he has the capability of pulling off great saves – but so do a lot of goalkeepers. We’ve seen the likes of Rob Green, Brad Friedel, Mark Schwarzer and even the Burnley keeper have great games. But what separates the “world class” players from the others is the consistency at the highest level.

A friend of mine (who doesn’t support Arsenal) once said of Almunia. “Could you ever see Chris Kirkland play for Real Madrid?” I laughed. He said “exactly”.

Lucas Fabianksi

Dubbed “Flapianski”, I really do wonder why Arsene rates this player so highly. Apparently he has amazing potential and is our future number one. His outings so far have been restricted to cup games and late season runs out – plus the odd Champions League game here and there. The problem with Fabianski is down to his understanding of the basics – you can’t pick up a back pass and of course, you can’t handle the ball out of the area. You can’t not be in position for a short free kick and you can’t flap at everything – you need to come for those you can get and position yourself appropriately for those you can’t.

With Almunia 33 tomorrow, Fabianski is 8 years his junior, and probably the most likely to be retained, if one of them does indeed leave the club. The funny thing is – over the last two years – he has been clearly much worse than Almunia.

Vito Mannone

Our young 22 year old has the support of the fans and has a more educated background, having graduated from the famous Atlanta academy. He had a little cameo earlier this season in which saw him make five first team appearances. He did reasonably well, very solid, and has won the hearts of Arsenal fans. He doesn’t look like the finished article, and despite his good outing, many fans would probably prefer his deputy to a number one rather than a number one himself just yet.

Vito did sign what I think was a 4 year contract earlier this year, so he isn’t going anywhere fast.

Wojciech Szczesny

Now this kid is the one that everyone’s taking about. He is two years younger than Vito but has developed very rapidly. He is now 20, and is not far from first team action. His loans spells, especially the most recent one at Brentford have been very successful, with the manager saying something you don’t hear often: “His performances suggest that he would not be out of place in the Championship or even the Premier League. It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn’t saved it.”

Arsene has also talked about the youngster and said publicly that Wojciech has been identified as a special talent and is a future number one. I am very excited to see him in action – maybe in the Emirates Cup? Maybe not… we’ll see what happens in the GK department this summer…

The Contenders…

Gianluigi Buffon

Well, we’d all love to have a big name join the Arsenal and Gianluigi Buffon is a big name. He’s spent most of his career at Juventus and his former years at Parma, and he’s pretty much won everything. He is pretty loyal too, having stayed with Juventus whilst they were relegated and continuing to push for honours with them this season. He has not had the best of seasons in Turin this year, but form is temporary and class is permanent. Whether or not he will actually leave Juventus is an unknown but sources in and around the player say that he is interested in trying out the Premiership. As mentioned before, we all know the effect that Van Der Sar had on United – a solid keeper with a good pedigree and he’s still there. Buffon could be our Van Der Sar in that manner – experience and determined and pretty good. The big question would be who else would be in for him and with Man City having two very good keepers in Given and Hart, United having Van Der Sar, Liverpool with Reina and Chelsea with Cech, I don’t think we will have too much competition for his signature from English clubs. Man City may try with a statement of intent and if that does happen, surely one of Given and Hart will have to leave… leading me nicely onto…

Joe Hart

English, and a very good goalkeeper make Hart the fans choice. I have to say, I have been very impressed in the young keeper and his loan at Birmingham has done nothing to shake that impression – if anything, he has raised his profile. He will most likely start for England against Mexico as he’s been drafted into the World Cup squad as third choice, but I don’t think it will be too long until he become England’s number one. With Man City currently having Given as their first choice, will Hart be happy as a number two – or will coming to Arsenal as number one and with Champions League football be something too good to resist – will Man City sell? And if they do, will we be able to afford the young keeper? We will find out soon, but I for one, would love to see him down at the Emirates.

Emiliano Viviano

Linked in a lot of media in the last couple of days – we’re unsure if this is a purely fabricated story or if there is any truth to the rumour. People in and around the scene do say he is a very good keeper, but at 25 and without European experience, how much of a leap will it be to the Emirates. Inter Milan actually co-own the player and it is rumoured that they are interested in taking him back – not this season, but the one after after he has a year at Bologna – as their number one. He’s obviously impressed in the Under 21’s and through an Olympic squad stint when Olympic number one Curci was injured, but ultimately we don’t know enough about the keeper to really comment on whether he’ll be a hit or miss…

So, who else do you think we should have on the shortlist? And who do you think should leave? Almunia or Fabianski? Is Buffon, at 32 and potentially available the option you want Arsene to use – as our signal of intent or is the younger and English Joe Hart preferred? See you in the comments…

  • Berth

    Good stuff Dev and very good paragraph linkage. Am going for Buffon though that seems unlikely.

  • ny

    good one…. but before everything please have a rewind of Arsenal vs Barcelona game at Emirates.Would any other goalkeeper in the World make those saves done by Almunia?

  • andrew

    @ ny:

    you are right that Almunia has at times been nothing short of brilliant. Those saves against Barca kept us in the match and the tie. The problem is consistency. He can be a great shot stopper at times, then completely useless in handling set pieces. Corner kicks and even the odd Rory Delap throw-in have been complete nightmares for the Arsenal defense. I think a big part of that problem is the keeper. As crazy as Lehmann was, no one was stupid enough to come into his area and challenge him. If the ball was in the air he would get it or take your head off trying.

    We just need someone consistent who can command the back four and know when to come out and take the ball in the air.

  • vj

    buffon for sur give us stability for a couple of seasons till mannone and szechzy can come up sell fabianski and almunia


    Buffon won’t be coming to Arsenal – his age and wage demands will put paid to that. We couldn’t lure him away when Juve were relegated, it won’t happen now unless Arsenal smash their wage structure or Buffon takes a massive pay cut.

  • Yemi

    @ ny:
    Many other keepers make those saves. One i have been particularly impressed with is brad friedel.
    Also tot’ham has a good keeper who made such grat saves againsts us in the match we lost. Not many keepers save the kind of free kick RVP played !!! Top corner

  • Yemi

    As for me, i’ll prefer any of the two. Hart or buffon, but i pray city go for buffon so we can have hart

  • goonerman

    I find it amazing that pretty much every single person at barcelona has publicly come out and talked about potentially getting fabregas, today it is barcelona’s vice presidents tuurn to tell us that a david villa deal is close but it will be harder with fabregas but he did add that it helps that both players want to go to barcelona! they really are trying to do with us what real madrid done with ferguson and in the end most of manchester hated real madrids cuts becuase of the lack of class they showed and its becoming similar with barcelona having no respect for our club by talking about fabregas like a free agent.

    think about chamackh we have basically agreed to have him for months but wenger didnt want to announce it earlier than when he will becuase it would of been disrespectful to his former club and fans so if anything i think barcelona are just letting themselves down!

    Finally if worse come to worse and fabregas told wenger he wanted to go to barcelona and we had to sell what price would actually be acceptable becuase when i hear figures like 40 million or 25 million plus yay toure i think that is pathetic and his leg is worth more than that, someone like ibrahimovic cost barcelona 40 million plus etoo and he is an older player and to be honest he has been crap then they mut think we are complete mugs if they think they can get fabregas for the money being talked about, what does everyone actually think would be acceptable if a transfer had to happen! this is purely for intrest people on not saying fabby will leave lol!

  • Berth

    79.9 million pounds for fabregas. I think he should be the second highest in football history behind ronaldo.But for us to make money out of the guy, we need to attract other suitors like real and mancity if not, no sales.

  • Yemi

    @ goonerman:
    1.) Scenario one: 50M plus yaya toure
    2.) Scenario two: They give messi, we give fab + 20M

    I would take any of those two scenarios. Nothing less

  • parsi

    So here we go again. Cesc has hardly put one foot on Spanish soil and the Spanish media are all over him again with all kind of stories about his move to Barcelona.

    Now to understand how things work we must know that in Spain you have newspapers that are almost from the first to the last letter all about football and sports. Those newspapers are fighting a struggle with each other and have to come up with the best headlines possible. Some of the most important ones are Marca and El Mundo and Diario Sport.

    You can imagine that a headline: “Cesc stays at Arsenal” does not sell many newspapers in Spain or in Barcelona. What could sell you more newspapers is a headline: ‘Cesc on his way to Spain”. The average Spanish sports fan would buy the paper to see that it possible only says that Cesc is coming in with the plane to join the national team. But the main thing would be that they have sold a newspaper.

    You can imagine a headline: “Cesc is on his way to Barcelona” will sell you many newspapers, especially in the neighbourhood of Barcelona. Again when you read the article could find in it that Cesc is on his way to join the Spanish national team and that he is flying in from London to Barcelona to meet his family. But the main thing would be that they have sold a lot of newspapers.

    Now imagine for a second that you are another Spanish sports newspaper and you have to make sure that you sell also a lot of newspapers. What would you do? Well you could invent “friends” of Cesc. Or you could invent “family” of Cesc. And you could invent that they have said that “Cesc is coming to Barcelona and that he has agreed a 4 year deal”. Now how about that. I think this will sell a lot of newspapers in Spain.

    Now what the Spanish newspapers invent to sell newspapers is one thing. The thing that is frightening is that many bloggers and even main media take this up and reprint it as the truth and nothing but the truth. Even if you have only one brain cell working properly you must take everything that is printed in those Spanish newspapers not with a pinch of salt but with a whole mountain of salt.

    Unfortunately some people don’t even have that one brain cell properly working and they believe what is written in those newspapers or should I say tabloids because that is what they are in fact. And so we have the whole summer once again with the same old stories over and over again. I can bet for a few pounds that let us say in 2 weeks time there will be a newspaper or a blog that runs the story all over again and again the same blogs will bring it as new and hot news and declare that Cesc now really will be leaving and that we are doomed and that all is lost.

    I think sometimes it must be tiring when you are Cesc Fabregas. Every word you say will be misquoted whenever they can and will be pulled out of the context just to make new headlines.

    By the way, the story that Cesc has agreed a 4 year contract with Barcelona and now the only thing in the way is a transfer agreement between Arsenal and Barcelona would mean that Barcelona, Cesc and his manager all would have broken the rules. Cesc is still under a contract with Arsenal and Arsenal and Arsène Wenger have on many occasion stated that there are only 3 players allowed to leave this summer and that are: Campbell, Gallas and Silvestre because they are the only one who are at the end of their contract.

    I think this was clear enough or should be clear enough for everyone that Arsenal will not allow anyone to even talk to Cesc, let alone let him sign a contract.

    So I would just ask to the Arsenal bloggers out there: please don’t fall in the trap from the Spanish media. If they want to spread lies and rumours just let them. If the media in England want to step into the trap set up by the Spanish press and reprint these story there is nothing that can be done about it, but we can be smarter and laugh it away.

    To finish up I would just like to add one little story that I heard today from a friend of mine who has been living in Spain the last couple of years. He heard from his cleaning lady who knows someone who is living near the home of Messi that they have seen a car with a French plate driving slowly by and in that car there was a person who looked like Arsène Wenger and who asked they way to Messi’s home.

    In his car was a document clearly visible on official Arsenal paper with the words “contract” on it. According to this source it said something like 10 years and had clearly the name of Messi on it.

    So what do you make of that? If the Cesc thing would be the truth, maybe it could mean that Wenger has asked Barcelona to swap a Cesc for a Messi.

    Don’t believe this? Then why believe the story of the friends from Cesc thing? I can make it up just like they do. Or maybe I do know someone who knows someone who knows Messi? Nothing is easier spread than a lie. Remember this until the next season starts and we will see our captain back in our red and white leading us to victory.

  • devday

    No way Jose… we simply can’t sell Cesc – he is our talisman and if we do, it will be something we can never live down. Fans would go crazy and the world will derail us for laying down and selling – he is soooo important.

    A lot, if not all of this, has been set up by the Spanish media. Cesc is on a long term contract and there are no “showdown” talks. It’s all nonsense.

    Next summer may be different if we don’t win anything, but he’s definitely staying this season!

  • parsi

    Spot on Dev. The idiots in spanish armada have nothing better to do so it’s obvious. Who can they target? @ parsi:

  • Nick

    That’s what I’ve been saying all along about Cesc. I do not think we can afford to sell him or let him leave this season at any price. He is the heart and soul of Arsenal.

    Anyone think there’s any way we could/would make a move for Carlos Tevez? He wants out of Man City and I think he’d be an incredible add to the front line. The kind of strength we lack up front.


    parsi brilliant piece-im not worried about these cesc rumours

    and as for keepers, joe hart anyone? lol

  • Jimmy McGee

    Anyone else think if Buffon went to Man City, Given would be happy to sit on the bench, as an Irish supporter I highly doubt my countryman would stand for that so if Buffon did move, I could see Hart staying and Given told to move on (like what happened to Dunne)

  • devday

    @ Jimmy McGee:
    True, don’t think Given or Hart would want bench time, meaning one could be available…

    But Buffon certainly isn’t – his agent said this:

    “Considering the ongoing reports, I want to remind everyone that Buffon is under contract with Juve and that next season he will play at Juve.”

    Well, then off to Ukraine then for Andriy Pyatov!

  • Yemi

    I NEED at least 2 (+ chamack to make 3) new experienced players(Not necessarily world class or known)
    I’ll sell Alumina and Flappyhandski faster than you can say sell and bring in Joe hart(preffered for the long time) or buffon (preferred for short term). Then i’ll have vito and sczenzy as 2nd and 3rd keepers. If we do get hart, That will mean baring all unforeseen accidents, it will take vito and sczenzy more than 5-10 years to be numero uno cos hart is also young and still has several years under his gloves.
    I need silvestre out
    I need traore to go back on loan or be converted to a an attacking midfielder. That Guy has little or no defensive abilities but he is a skillful and quick player.
    i’ll Sell senderos
    I’d like to have gallas but if he is becoming a disruptive influence, or asking for too much, i’ll sell him fast !

  • Gooner Get Ya

    What about Hugo Lloris? He has also got to be a likey GK target. I don’t know alot about him but he is highly rated but only 23 so would he have enough experience?

  • Nick

    Hugo Lloris is a very desirable keeper. I’d be happy to have him in goal. There’s a lot of teams interested in him.

  • goonerman

    so guillem balague has come out and said cesc has told wenger he wants to join barcelona, im not going to go off on a mad one and say some strong words yet lets just see if his quotes are correct or not first. what i will say is the more this cesc fabregas saga goes on the more and more we surely all have to loose respect for madrid, barcelona and the whole corrupt joke called fif a with the joke of a president platini has some kind of special love for every other country except england! this has gone on for years now with endless people coming out of barcelona and publicy trying to tap up fabregas without anything being done about it, it happened with ronaldo and if anything barcelona have been worse with fabregas with them using player and backroom staff to chat complete crap about him! barcelona are known as a club with great traditions and an allround class about them just like arsenal and wenger but what i see is a club who think they are bigger and better with different rules to the rest and they are just as bad or even worse than real madrid!

  • devday

    @ Gooner Get Ya:
    Lyon paid £8m to buy him from Nice. They won’t let him go for anything less than £20m. The player also doesn’t want to leave.

  • devday

    @ goonerman:

    This story is getting some wind, should we be worried?

    The BBC report that Laporta want to speak to Arsenal:

    At the same time, Balague apparently spoke to Cesc this morning and said that Cesc said to him that he wants to go to Barcelona this summer. (TalkSport)

  • LeeroyN

    Sky sports news website is reporting Cesc has told Arsene he wants to leave. Very said if true. But there is nothing we can do about it. If indeed does go, we have to rise up, come together and let other players fill the void, no matter how big it seems. I love and respect Cesc and what he has done for us. We pray he stays for another season, but good luck to him if he goes.

  • Nick

    I may love what Cesc has done for us but a few weeks ago he was given a new updated contract and a huge lump sum of money for back pay and all he’s done is say how happy he is at Arsenal. If he does leave I will have a different impression of the man.

  • Francis

    Well there is no proof that Cesc has said that he wants to leave…..i must say that its within his right to say so…however he has a contract to respect….Arsene has said that only 3 players can leave…and we all know who these players are….

    The tabloids and Barca’s approach is despicable to say the least…and skysports had better show some responsibility by exercising due diligence instead of just quoting from other papers

    i trust that Arsene is in control…no player leaves without his approval…we saw it with veiera ..he left only when Arsene wanted him to

  • parsi

    The media are having field day with this cesc story eh

  • parsi

    have to wait and see what AW or Fab says until then its all a load of tosh

  • parsi

    umm where exactly is fabergas going to play for barcelona?

  • bayo

    Last 2 seasons when fabregas got injured and he was missing for 4 months barcelona did not want him and he never shouted he was leaving.FABREGaS was made the captain just because how much the club loves him yet he fails to see this and he keeps shouting abt barcelona.We took him and played him when viera left gave him all the experience,ARSENE could have gone for another experienced player yet he trusted and believed in him.INFACT he is one of the reasons we have not WON a trophy cus we played him all those years he was nobody and when he was making all his mistakes at the detriment of the team so if he wants to go to HELL with FABREGAS.
    ARSENE should collect YAYA TOURE and 40 million pounds.Sign Gourcuff for 20mill pounds.Buy A central defender like ZapatA FOR 13 MILLION AND SIGN A GOAL KEEPER FOR 7 MILLION.


  • Nick

    @Parsi… exactly! THey already have a Cesc, his name is Xavi Hernandez. Last I checked he was the one starting for Spain in that position as well. So why do they “need” Cesc other than for whoever is running for President of Barcelona to pat themselves on the back or to prevent Real Madrid from signing him (which they wouldn’t). It’s not like Cesc is getting old and couldn’t play for them in 2 years and be even better than he is now. I hate Barcelona.

  • vj

    the cesc rumours are really starting to worry me, is he staying or going god i hope he stays otherwise were fucked

  • bayo


  • Nick


    I hate Barcelona because I’m a Real Madrid fan as well as an Arsenal fan. To me, Barcelona are right up there in my realm of contempt as Man U. and Chelsea are.

  • RVP

    if cesc wants to go let him go.if he does then he as wenger said ‘lacks ambition’ as that league is always a ‘two horse race’.we cannot get bumped in this transfer we knoe how much they want him so we should take payed 60mil for kaka and i think fabregas is worth more because 1) hes younger and 2)hes probly better than kaka.we should get a straight money deal of 70mil or player exchanges-toure+pedro+dani alves+40mil. this is of course if cesc wants to go.we all know that one day he wants to go back i cant blame him he supported them as a boy.maybe he doesnt wanna go now.hopefully he doesnt.i still feel we could get toure even if he didnt go this summer. he would be a good addition to the team.

  • bayo

    All i want is for arsenal to wrap it up on time.40 million plus yaya toure.then arsene should sign ireland or gourcuff add a new defender and a new keeper that means we wld v signed chamack,yaya toure,a defender,attacking mildfielder,a new keeper.

  • edison

    Cesc wont leave arsenal.

    This is all built up bullshit by the media, particularly the spanish papers as they can see the world cup coming up and they are decidedly patriotic – so it only seems convenient to bring up the fabregas drama again. Rediculous out of context quotes and hear’say.

    Barca might be lucky enough to sign David Villa, but I think Cesc being dragged into this is just sensationalist. Fabregas is going no where !

  • Arseneknows


    Every year it’s the same – loads of idiot press twats
    say loads of stupid rubbish and then a loads of
    stupid Arsenal fans believe it immdeiately!!
    Come on people – don’t be so gulable – you’re like children
    who believe everything they’re told!


    let someone speak who can be trusted like cesc
    or the club and then talk!!


  • LeeroyN

    It is like hysteria and there’s nothing we can do but speculate and read into what we see and hear about. Obviously there is nothing we can do to persuade him to stay IF indeed he is going back to Spain. IF being the key word we use for the next few days. But IF he does go, it isn’t the end of the world. IMO. I stay forever optimistic and think about this quote.

    “There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and
    never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to
    sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in
    the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual
    goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest
    is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades
    will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and
    intelligence win championships.”

  • goonerman

    Guys i actually really believed we would keep fabregas for at least another year and probably even 2 but these rumours seem a bit more than just that i really think we are hearing reliable sources about fabregas asking for a move to barcelona and if it does happen i know he has done good things to us but i will loose respect for fabregas for a few reasons
    .we may have taken him from their academy but they let him go becuase if they were so sure of his future class they could of done alot more to keep him like they did with messi.
    .we gave him a chance in a quality arsenal side at the age of 16 years old were as he could of been in the academy or on the bench at barcelona up to 18 or 19
    .he may have been taught as a child at barcelona but we unlocked his talents and turned him into the world class player he is today and we stuck with him through bad form and injuries
    .he is only 23 years of age meaning he has 12 or 13 years ahead of him and for him to not give us at least 2 more of those years after we nurture him from a teenager is a joke no matter what silverware we have won bringing through the youth like fabregas is the reason we have had no silverware and in the next year or 2 is when we were supposed to gain the rewards of bringing through our young player.
    .finally we made him the captain of arsenal football club at the age of 21 years old which to be honest in my eyes is a huge honour to have and to leave after just over a year is a complete joke and i really cant fall for the i love arsenal but i have to move on crap which im pretty sure will be coming our way in the next few days!

    last of all which i find the most insulting thing of all is that barcelona and aparrently only prepared to offer a maximum of 30 million pound for him becuase we took him from them in the first place meaning they deserve to get him back on the cheap, i do no care if we took him from their academy we are the ones who tured him into a kid with potention to a world class star and if he goes for anywere near 30 million serious questions would have to be asked.

    I know some will say im speeking to soon and i would love to look like a fool in a few days when cesc says he is staying with us but i really do belive he will give us a sob story and be on his merry way to a bunch of pricks who have tapped him up over the last couple of years!!

  • Sven

    Lehmann not worldclass, hahaha! If there was ever a goalkeeper playing worldclass it was Lehmann in 2006. Not even Seaman was good enough to bring us into a CL final. And some people will never get that Lehmanns huge advantage was to sweep away and catch balls because a shot on goal could even happen.