With Fabianksi out for the rest of the season, we’re only one injury away from Manuel Almunia resuming his position as Arsenal’s starting goalkeeper.
Let’s say Szczesney picks up a knock in training or gets Shawcrossed on Wednesday night – it would mean Big Al coming in for a string of important games that could include Barcelona away and the Carling Cup Final.
This sort of scenario could happen any time between now and the end of the season and whenever it does the timing will be inconvenient. Let’s face it, the games are only going to get more intense the closer we get to May.
I know that most Gooners would welcome the prospect of Manuel’s return about as much as a cyclist would welcome a bad case of piles during the Tour de France, but it’s a distinct possibility.
So what do we do about it?
For me it’s simple. We throw out the preconceptions, we ditch the bitching and we get behind our man.
If Fabianski, Song, Eboue, Arshavin, Clichy, Walcott and others can find their form again after becoming the butt of the fans’ frustration, Almunia should be given the same chance.
He is being blamed by many for the Orient goal on Sunday – although opinion seems divided as to whether he was at fault. But even if he could have done better, it was one mistake by a player lacking competitive game time.
What many Arsenal supporters seem to forget is that Manuel Almunia can be a very good ‘keeper.
And before you shout me down, take a look at this:
Yes, you can point out that that was way back in ‘08/’09, but cast your mind back just a year ago to this:
There was a time when Almunia was being seriously mooted as a possible England goalie. When the competition included David ‘Calamity’ James, Paul ‘Air Kick’ Robinson and Robert ‘Butterfingers’ Green, you can see why Manuel was in the frame.
Almunia has played very well for Arsenal in the past and, while he’ll never be in the Seaman or Lehmann class, he’s a solid professional who, if he played in a mid table EPL team, would probably be highly thought-of by the fans.
He has had bad spells as well as good, but some of the bad spells have coincided with having a defence in front of him offering about as much protection as a cotton condom.
In his good spells he has been very good and, in my opinion, his greater stature makes him less likely to be bullied than Fabianski. (I’ve never seen us concede a goal by having Almunia bundled into the back of the net, as has happened with Fabiasnki).
Szczesney is undoubtedly in Pole position (pun intended) for the Arsenal number one spot but if Almunia comes back into the first team in this exciting season he will need our support, not our ridicule.
Apart from anything else, I have never heard Almunia complain about his lot, I have never heard him slag off the boss or his team mates. He has not sulked. He has just consistently tried to do his best for the club.
So if he does come back in a big game, let’s not give him the ironic cheer treatment and let’s remember his great moments instead of his bad ones.
Let’s forget the Spanish Waiter and Coco the Clown jokes and give him the respect and credit he deserves.
Our season may yet depend on him.