Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Has Szczesny done enough to oust Fabianski and Almunia in one game?

I think we can all be agreed that the one positive aspect of last night's game was the performance of Wojciech Szczesny.

There is a lot of good will towards the younger of our Polish keepers. Arsenal fans seem desperate for him to be given a chance and at 20-years-old he was given what is one of the club's most high profile games of the season in which to introduce himself to the wider world.

The 6ft 5in Pole came into the game having only featured for the first team in the Carling Cup with two appearances this season and one last.

His early moments in the game were shakey. A simple roll out to Sebastien Squillaci in the opening 15 seconds was too rushed and the Frenchman rolled back a pass for Szczesny to launch long, however the kick from the young Pole was poor.

However despite his disappointing kicking, his handling was excellent.

He made a series of easy saves from Rooney and Nani. They would be bread and butter stuff to most experienced goal keepers, but to a rookie like Szczesny who knows what might happen.

Thankfully he dealt with them as you would have expected van der Sar to do at the other end.

I don't think there was much he could do about the goal. It was a fortunate turn of events which allowed United the chance to put the ball in the back of the net.

In total Szczesny had five shots on target to deal with. And one point blank save from Anderson in the second half was outstanding.

You might also credit him with aiding Rooney missing the target from the penalty spot. He made himself big on the line and perhaps his dancing around could have put the England striker off.

Arsene was quick to praise his young charge in his post match press conference.

He said:
"The goalkeeper performed well. He was a bit nervous in his kicking but he didn't make any mistakes with his hands.
"It was a big game. But in this job you do not look at the size of the game. You look at the quality of the player.
"Every big goalkeeper started at 18 or 19. I saw (Edwin) Van der Sar play in big games when he was 18."
There was no questions about Lukasz Fabianski's hip problem in the post match press conference. So it is unclear if the older Pole will be fit enough to return for the visit of Stoke to the Grove on Saturday.

Speaking after the game, Szczesny said:
"I am a reserve goalkeeper at the moment so I need to take every chance I get and this was a massive chance for me.
"I felt that for my debut I did well enough. Unfortunately it wasn't enough for us to get any points but this is my big chance and I need to take it."
But the question raised by his good performances this season is has he done enough already to oust Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Almunia and become first choice at Arsenal?

My answer would be so far so good, but until he's had a consistent run of starts it's too early to tell.

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