Since two writers have submitted posts giving their particular angle on Manuel Almunia, we have decided to publish them both to demonstrate how views can contrast and stats can prove anything!
A view on Almunia written by 26may1989
What must be going through the mind of Manuel Almunia? We’re all frustrated and annoyed that the new keeper Wenger is after hadn’t been secured before the season’s opening, but I guess the point of this post is to try to look at this situation from Almunia’s point of view.
Whatever we think of his ability to be our first choice keeper, and I am very much of the view that he doesn’t have what it takes technically, Almunia has consistently shown himself to be a man of dignity and modesty. Unlike his predecessor, Jens Lehmann, or the man who has led the defence in front of him over the last two or three years, William Gallas, Almunia is a genuine team player. He has also undoubtedly improved his game over the last few years, and while not good enough, is not nearly as bad as many would claim.
But he and we know the reality. Almunia is the footballing equivalent of a dead man walking. It’s now a matter of record that Arsenal have officially bid for at least one other keeper, Mark Schwarzer, who would be an improvement on Almunia but not dramatically so. Whether or not Schwarzer joins us, Almunia knows his days as first choice are numbered, and quite rightly it seems he would leave Arsenal rather than resume duties as a back-up keeper.
However, we went into last weekend with a tough and difficult opening match depending on Almunia, a man who can only feel undermined and threatened by what has happened this summer. There’s no point whingeing about the situation, it is what it is now, and it’s obvious Wenger didn’t want this situation to have come about any more than we did. I just hope Almunia’s professional pride enables him to put any feelings of frustration and alienation to one side – he may even be motivated by a degree of defiance.
I feel for Almunia being in this situation but I also believe he has the strength of character to give his best for as long as he’s Arsenal’s number one.
What the stats say by GunnerN5
Most of us have agonized over our goalkeeping for several seasons, really since the much maligned Jens left us, boy how we would like him back now. This chart shows just how bad our main man Almunia really was last season.
Unfortunately the complete range of stats cannot be reproduced in the chart above, but the decisive conclusions are as follows:
Almunia was 17th in saves per shot at 87.8% and 8th on amount of goals allowed at 31. What is really surprising is that our defense only allowed 254 shots against Almunia in his 29 games. This (among this group of keepers) was the 5th lowest amount for the season and the lowest shots against per game at only 9. To the writer this indicates that our defense was not as suspect as perhaps we thought and that our goalkeeping was worse than thought.
If, for instance, Almunia had the same save % as Van der Sar at 94.1% (5.9% allowed) then he would only have let in 15 goals and we would, have most likely, won the league.
I know stats are simply stats but this chart really shows just how bad Almunia was and although Fabianski and Mannone are not shown they were no better.
Hart, Schwarzer and Given were all better than any of our lot!!