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…
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”.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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…