Arsenal’s team of the decade Part 1, vote for your favourite : Goalie

During this boring winter break we thought it would be fun to get AA readers to vote for their team of the past decade (2010 to 2019).

Today we start with the position that attracts the craziest men in football: goalkeeper.

During the decade seven players pulled on the green (or yellow, pink, blue, black, aubergine etc) jersey and took their pace between the sticks for Arsenal: Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone, Szczesny, Ospina, Cech and Leno. We’ve left out Emiliano Martinez and Matt Macey because they made only a tiny number of appearances.

Have a quick read, then cast your vote. You won’t be able to view the results in real time because we want to keep everyone guessing until we reveal the final ‘Team of the Decade’ line-up.

Important note: you’re voting for them based on their Arsenal career. So, for example, you shouldn’t vote for Cech because he was brilliant for Chelsea or for Szczesny based on his performances at Juventus. It’s how they played in Arsenal colours that counts.

Manuel Almunia

The Spaniard was never really taken to the fans’ hearts, but he was in goal for our 2005 FA Cup win (not in the decade in question of course) and became a much valued member of the Watford team after leaving us. I’ll never forget his best ever performance for us when he made a string of almost impossible saves in the 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Emirates in 2010 (when Barcelona were at their very best).

Lukas Fabianski

Signed when we had a fad for Poles in Goals, Fabianski was in our 2014 FA Cup winning side and has had a solid career in the EPL since departing N5.

Vito Mannone

Looking like a heavy from Goodfellas, Vito got limited first team opportunities and is clearly a long shot for the team of the decade. But he had a few good performances before moving on to Sunderland and then Reading.

Wojciech Szczesny

Our Pole No 2 came to us as a youngster with good footballing genes (his dad was a professional goalie who was capped for Poland). Many of us thought the eccentric Wojciech would be our starting goalkeeper for a decade or more, but doubts crept in about his form and his attitude (getting caught smoking in the showers was not his finest moment). He has established himself as a valued stopper at Juventus so perhaps we should have persevered with him for longer.

David Ospina

He never established himself as an out-and-out starter, but was played by Arsene Wenger as our “cup ‘keeper.” The Colombian was between the sticks for two FA Cup wins and for a League Cup final defeat. Not a bad haul.

Petr Cech

Arguably the best goalie in the league during his Chelsea career, Cech came to us in 2015. He may not have reached the peaks that he did in West London, but he was a reliable custodian during his time with us.

Bernd Leno

Our second German ‘keeper (after the brilliantly bonkers Jens Lehmann) joined from Bayer Leverkusen in 2018 and is our clear first choice as we head into a new decade.



42 Responses to Arsenal’s team of the decade Part 1, vote for your favourite : Goalie

  1. Thank you Rocky for the post.

    Rocky has written a set of these posts, one for each type of position so can we stick to goalies today.

    All comments are welcome as usual.

  2. RC78 says:

    Thanks RL.

    It can only be Cech for me. He wasnt stellar but he did well for us and was better than the ones he replaced while Leno has yet to convince me.

    WS could have been given more time. He s now in top 3 goalies in Italy and he has erased a lot of lapses from his game.

  3. RC78 says:

    RL – am looking forward to voting on the rest of the squad 👌

  4. LBG says:

    Checked the Cech box.
    Flappyanski has been better since he left us!

  5. RockyLives says:

    Morning RC
    The interesting thing for me is that there was not a clear stand-out candidate between the sticks.

    That wouldn’t have been the case prior to this decade: who would have argued with Lehmann for the period 2000-2009 or with Seaman for the 1990-1999 decade?

  6. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky, this is a difficult one. Let’s be honest, none of them have been great. If Fabianski has played as well for us as he has for Wham he may well have been my choice.

    As a man I’d have to go for Petr. A real professional and great guy.

    I’d hoped Leno would adapt to the English game and improve on coming for crosses etc …. and there was a time towards Emery’s reign when he repeatedly played defenders into trouble by exclusively playing out from the back. I think we will probably be looking for an upgrade on our keeper once we get all the other suspect positions sorted.

  7. Pete the Thirst says:

    Leno has the potential to be a great, but he needs to improve how he deals with crosses.

    Szzny should have been the solution. He was given too much rope by Wenger, but he clearly had talent as we can see at Juve.

    Cech was well past his sell by date when we picked him up on the cheap. Never did it consistently for us.

    Almunia has to be one of the worst keepers we ever had. How he remained No.1 for so long is a mystery. Only Arsene knows…

    Leno for me

  8. Pete the Thirst says:

    @RC78 sorry to go off topic here, but you mentioned you follow PSG… Do you get to any of their games?

    Are the Boulogne Boys still a thing at PSG. Used to have a terrible reputation…attacking their own fans etc

  9. RC78 says:

    Hi Pete – boulogne boys are still there but they have been subdued

  10. JM says:

    Petr Čech

  11. RockyLives says:

    Pros: size (6ft 4″), occasional good shot stopper.
    Cons: prone to costly blunders; indecisive on crosses.

    Pros: shot stopping.
    Cons: error prone; crosses.

    Pros: solid build, not bad on crosses.
    Cons: reading of the game, distribution.

    Pros: character, size, crosses.
    Cons: poor shot stopping record when with us.

    Pros: shot stopping.
    Cons: size (only 6ft), crosses.

    Pros: size, crosses, experience.
    Cons: (with us) shot stopping, penalties, playing with ball at feet

    Pros: shot stopping
    Cons: crosses, distribution

  12. RC78 says:

    The sad thing is that Lloris could have joined us… But went to Spurs.

    I think Neuer could be tempted to join us and then we have a German duel for the GK position. Would be fun

  13. RockyLives says:

    Wouldn’t Neuer be a bit like when we signed Cech.

    Surely we’d be better to get the next Neuer earlier in their career. It may well turn out to be Leno if he can be coached to improve on crosses.

  14. RC78 says:

    Just to come back to Laca, rumour has it that Arsenal will sell him if Auba stays this summer. If we do decide to sell him, I think we should try to get Odsonne Edouard from Celtic. Am annoyed PSG let him go in the cheap just like Moussa Dembele. He is a footballer with a good potential and an incredible scoring record in Scotland.

  15. Mike M says:

    Morning all. Great question Rocky because it’s probably the hardest one to answer!!! Can’t really say I’d pick any of them in pure goalkeeping terms. Probably Chez would be my favorite – Gooner through and through.
    I think Jens was in goal for the 2005 FA Cup win btw. Saved the Scholes penalty and was generally outstanding.
    Almunia replaced a sent off Jens in the 2006 CL final.

  16. RockyLives says:


    You’re right about Almunia – my memory playing tricks on me. He got a winner’s medal but was an unplayed sub in the 2005 Cup Final.

    I was there so I should have known!

  17. Pete the Thirst says:

    Oh that brings back bad memories. Almunia letting the ball in at the near post for Barca’s winner. Basic goalkeeping error. I can still see it now.

    Would we have won if Jens had not been sent off? Maybe?

    I have a vision of Henry running towards us in the Arsenal end. One on one with the keeper…and he scuffed it. Did he ever score for us In a final?

    ‘Mike M says:
    February 6, 2020 at 2:13 pm
    Almunia replaced a sent off Jens in the 2006 CL final.’

  18. RockyLives says:

    The 2005 Cup Final was a terrible game (or, to be more precise, we were terrible).

    Obviously Paddy scoring the winning penalty in his final game for us was a great moment, but on the balance of play we were dead lucky to win that one.

    Mind you, I always thought it made up for the 2001 final when we completely outplayed Liverpool but managed to lose 1-2.

  19. Rasp says:

    The worst goal Almunia ever let in was when that totnum toerag danny rose let fly from 40 yards. It would have hit him in the face if he’d stood still and not panicked.

  20. Aaron says:

    Szczesny by miles for me!

    Almunia should have made the near post save, Jens went out of his mind to get sent off, the Arsenal would have won CL 2006 for sure.
    Darn near did with 10 men, but thanks for officiating the offside winning goal stood.
    Most likely would have won the year RVP got the red for kicking the ball a millisecond after the whistle blew, again against ueFalona, but that is a tangent for another day.

  21. RC78 says:

    2006 is a annus horribilis for me…Arsenal loses the CL Final to freaking Barcelona (and their friends at UEFA) and France loses to WC Final to archenemy Italy even though we dominated the game.

    Recent things that hurt me at Arsenal in no particular order
    – Players leaving and winning things in other clubs (Nasri, Sagna, Henry, RVP and now Oxlade);
    – Wenger’s last two years 😦
    – Arsenal CL final 2006

    To come back to the GK, I think Neuer would do something that Leno is not doing, which is yelling at and organizing his defenders. Neuer is not as good as before but he is still better than Leno and Leno could learn from Neuer like WS learned from GBuffon. Also, we could have gotten Courtois or Lloris but somehow we missed them although they were not against joining us and their club were OK to sell them to us.

  22. RC78 says:

    Worse GK from the bunch mentioned is definitely Almunia followed by Mannone and Fabianski.

  23. RockyLives says:


    Not a tangent for another day! I don’t think I’ve ever been more angry about a game than that one (RVP red card at Barca).

    The whole thing was a fix.

    The ref booked lots of our players in the first half. I now firmly believe he did this in order to maximise his chance of giving one of them a second yellow in the second half.

    He got his opportunity when RVP shot a moment after the whistle had gone and the (expletive deleted) in black sent him off.

    In my match report here on AA the next day I used the headline “Corruption or Incompetence?” In the report I came down on the side of incompetence but I now believe it was corruption. The ref was promoted to some senior position in charge of Europe’s referees shortly afterwards.


  24. RC78 says:

    UEFA is bloody corrupt and FIFA is the same. We suffered vs Barcelona twice 😦

    Rumours has it that Arteta is ready to sell prized assets like Auba, Laca, Ozil to enhance his transfer kitty to build a squad to his liking. Meanwhile, Lampard will have 150 Mln pounds transger kitty + all money recouped from players sales. Adama Traore, Jack Grealish will be targeted by big clubs this summer while Moussa Dembele from Lyon will also attract interest. Kevin Havert, Denis Zakaria, Sancho and Werner will also be highly coveted by EPL clubs this summer while Immobile may also be monitored. This summer we will see record sales for very good players but not top players.

    Sancho can go for 100 Mln, same for Werner while Grealish and Traore won’t be less than 70 Mln. Transfer fes are crazy now.

  25. Le Coq Monster says:

    So disappointed there is no Jim Furnell in the poll………………………..Come on without come on within you aint seen nothing like the mighty Jim………..Furnell!

  26. Le Coq Monster says:

    RIP Kirk Douglas……………………………despite the amount of imposters, he was Spartacus!

  27. RockyLives says:

    I was Spartacus!

  28. Le Coq Monster says:

    Mikel is SpArtetacus!

  29. RC78 says:

    LeCoqMonster – lol

  30. RockyLives says:

    I took a peek at the results. I think a lot of people will be surprised if it stays like this.

    However, I’m not revealing anything until the whole team has been selected. Also, all the votes (including GK) will stay open until the final day so things have plenty of time to change.

  31. LB says:


  32. Le Coq Monster says:

    Arsenal are through to the FA Youth Cup Quarter Finals , just beat Brighton 4-3.

  33. LBG says:

    Greenwood, Cotterell and Azeez future stars in U18s.

  34. LBG says:

    Interesting Arteta seems to be looking ahead to Summer transfer window and planning on purchases BEFORE inflated prices following Euros set in. Would love a Summer of knowing our squad for 20-21.
    Hope, against hope perhaps, he can get us into Champions League by winning Europa. If he does, predict we will sell Aubang, Laca and Mesut.

  35. GoonerB says:


    Thanks Rocky. I have a hard time picking a keeper purely because I think a keeper, despite their own individual quality, is significantly affected by what is in front of him in defence. We have been really quite poor overall for many years but with some periods worse than others, so we may have had a better keeper on our hands at certain times but they were just too exposed by the defence as a whole.

    In the end I went with Leno, probably because I was between 2-3 of them anyway and just wanted to give our current guy a big positive thumbs up. It is not without merit anyway because he has saved many shots over our difficult period recently and likely kept us from slipping further back.

    Everyone credits Auba’s goals for keeping us from being worse, and this is correct, but at the other end Leno’s shot stopping ability has been as important. I think stats around late December showed he topped the shot stopping stats in the entire league.

  36. RockyLives says:

    Good points GoonerB, although you will get to choose the defence in front of your pick, so you can imagine how different GKs may have fared with our best back line of the decade protecting them.

    I’d agree that Leno is probably the best shot stopper we’ve had in recent times.

  37. GoonerB says:

    Mmmm, the back line. I think I already know 3 of the 4 I would choose but may have forgotten someone so will await your next instalment Rocky

  38. RockyLives says:

    Exactly GoonerB… don’t go jumping the gun. You’ll get to play with the FB positions next…. 🙂

  39. goonerB says:

    midfield and attack will be the hardest to choose, and I think it will be interesting as we get to those positions. It is not always the best individual player that may get the nod, because team balance may dictate a player with more specific attributes… least that is the way I think about it, in needing a balanced team if we are to get our best team of the decade….but that might just be me 🙂

  40. RockyLives says:

    Some pretty damning quotes from Leno about the way things were under Emery (and encouraging quotes about how they are improving under MA):

    “Before, I don’t want to say it was a mess, it was a little bit confusing. Everybody was doing different things. We were not a team, not in the dressing room, not on the pitch, and you could see this.

    “With Mikel it changed completely. The first day he came, he was not talking too much about tactics, he was talking about how we behave in the dressing room. [He said] when we go to the games we have to be more professional, more like a team.

    “It’s not only what he has learned from Pep Guardiola, when you talk to all the people who worked with him, they say he’s a very clever guy with tactics and how to improve players.”

  41. Morning all

    We have a New Post ……………

  42. Wasn’t it Arteta, when he came as a player, that changed the culture of players doing some things together as a group. I remember he insisted that they went for meals together whereas previously the individual cultures stuck together.

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