Season Assessment: Goalkeeper

June 11, 2017

Dust has settled, we have silverware, no CL, the manager contract is signed. It is time to look back …

Let us start this series at the back and the men between the sticks.

Prior to the Back 3 experiment our keepers were under pressure as we conceded goal after goal. I will question why when critiquing the defence, but the fact remains that we conceded more goals than any other season of AW’s reign apart from 2011. Were the Keepers at fault?

I have to say No. There were times when mistakes were made but nothing in the Fabianski-mould. Conceding 4 goals from 4 shots vs Liverpool in our opening match may bring the GK into question but they were all unsaveable. Or the 10 vs BM? Again one should look at the men in front of the GK.

Unknown.jpeg

Cech:  IMO he had a fine season belying his advancing years. A difficult start to the campaign ended with perhaps his best performances for Arsenal in the run-in.

I love to see the urgency Petr has with the ball in hand; his first thought is to get the team  on the front foot and his distribution is superb.

I am sure he would have been disappointed when missing the FAC Final but Petr must have known about AW’s Cup decision from season’s start and he seemed genuinely delighted at the final whistle (and got another medal for doing nothing).

How long can Cech continue to be excellent? He is 35 and probably has, at best, another season or two in him. Both Seaman and Lehmann were kept for too long. Will AW give more game time to Martinez or sign a top young GK? We shall see.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Ospina: Difficult to criticise despite him picking the ball out of the net on too many occasions . Our Cup GK  and as we won the Cup it must be successful season. We were never going to win the CL though David must have been embarrassed to concede so often. Given the open spaces in our defence this was rarely his fault.

Leaving the club this summer. We must be grateful that such a fine GK chose to ride the pine at AFC since 2014 as this is a man who has been on the Ballon D’Or long-list and played 77 times for Columbia!

His two superb saves in the FA Final will live long in the memory. Thank you David.

Unknown-2.jpeg

Martinez:  Is he good enough to be Cech’s understudy?  I have no idea. 2 PL and 3 League Cup appearances is not enough to judge, but what I have seen is a man who looks comfortable and is well prepared for an exciting future. Emiliano has been at AFC since the age of 17 and at 24 he needs to get more games or leave and develop his career elsewhere.

I expect him to stay, join the first team squad  and get more games next season.

Summing Up. Responsibility for our defensive frailties cannot be laid at the hands & feet of our goalkeepers.

written by Big Raddy


Szczesny to Return?

April 1, 2016

The Pole in Goal (henceforth known as TPIG) has had an excellent season in Rome. Roma have enjoyed a good season so far and TPIG has been their first choice GK, missing only one game. The fans like him, the manager likes him and it appears he has rebuilt his crumbling reputation,

But is Wojciech off the naughty step at Arsenal?

I like TPIG, he has presence, he has character, he works hard and in my opinion can become an excellent GK but does Mr Wenger agree? The signing of Cech indicates a No, though in my opinion the Cech transfer was a no brainer – the man is fantastic. However, this leaves us with 3 very good GK’s all of whom are looking for first team action, if TPIG returns what of Ospina? All  3 are under contract so it is AW’s decision.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Rumours are that Ospina is unhappy playing second fiddle to Cech and TPIG will be even more dissatisfied returning to a club where he has been demoted from No.1 to not even a bench seat.

Should Ospina leave would TPIG settle for a few games in the Cups? It seems unlikely.

Thankfully this is a luxury problem – long gone are the days of Almunia.

Arsenal own his contract so if we want Szczesny to return then he will. Roma have said they would like him to stay. The media are reporting that Klopp wants him at Liverpool.

What do you think, should he stay or should he go?

written by Big Raddy


Week 2 – Goalkeepers Vote

June 7, 2013

So over the last few days you have seen the goalkeepers in contention for a place in the Greatest Ever Arsenal Squad, but me and GN5 both feel that there are too many Johnny Come Lately types who only ever vote for players in their most recent memory (or only memory). So to stop our squad being made up of 11 Invincibles and friends we are forcing you to vote by era.

4 goalkeepers 2 from each era are going in our squad, it’s up to you to decide…….

Has anything you have read over the last few days changed your mind? Hopefully you’ve been in search of Pathe news reels to see some of them in action, or maybe you’ve now realised why your Dad was so respectful to the old guy selling you your first scarf.

Today’s poll will allow multiple answers (up to 3 in total) for those of you who are in two minds or just wish to acknowledge more than one keeper.

1900-1970

George Swindin
Dan Lewis
Frank Moss
James Ashcroft
Jack Kelsey
Jim Furnell
Bob Wilson

1970-2013

Jimmy Rimmer
John Lukic
Pat Jennings
David Seaman
Jens Lehmann

I expect this to be a fiercely contested category, we have had some fine keepers over the years, and may have one more in the making, time will tell.

Written by GN5, compiled by Gooner in Exile


Goalkeepers – Day 3

June 6, 2013

9. Pat Jennings 1977 – 1985

Pat was our keeper for 8 years and played 327 games.

Pat was born in in Newry, County Down, after playing for Shamrock Rovers under-18 side at the age of 11, he concentrated on Gaelic football until the age of sixteen, when he made his soccer comeback with his hometown side Newry Town. After impressing with Newry he moved to English Third Division side Watford.

He was signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £27,000 in 1964. Pat spent thirteen years with Tottenham where he played in 472 league games, and 591 in all competitions. He won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972.

He played an unsuspecting role in Arsenal’s League and Cup double in 1971 as he was in goal for Tottenham when Ray Kennedy’s header flew past him as Arsenal famously wrapped up the title at White Hart Lane.

jenningsIn August 1977, he was transferred to Arsenal, the fact that Arsenal enjoyed some of his finest years was largely thanks to a miscalculation by Spurs manager Keith Burkinshaw who incorrectly suspected that Pat was approaching the end of his career when he let him leave for Highbury. He found himself out of favour at Arsenal in 1982 as Scottish keeper George Wood assumed the No 1 spot, but he bounced back and regained his starting place until his retirement from club football in 1985. His long career ended in style with an appearance, at the age of 40, at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico. It was a fitting finale for one of our greatest goalkeepers. In total, Jennings participated in the qualifying stages of six World Cups between 1966 and 1986.

After his retirement, he returned to Tottenham Hotspur, playing in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness for Northern Ireland’s 1986 World Cup campaign. He was also briefly on Everton’s books, having been signed as goalkeeping cover for the 1986 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, Neville Southall having been injured playing for Wales.

In 1973 the Football Writers association named him as its footballer of the year Three years later he won PFA’s version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, he also received an MBE and an OBE.

In 2003 Pat was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in English football

10. John Lukic 1983 -1990

John played for 7 years and appeared in 298 games.

John was born in Chesterfield, he signed for Leeds United as a schoolboy. He made his debut for them in 1979 and went on to play 165 games. After making a transfer request, he moved to Arsenal in July 1983 for £75,000, as a long-term replacement for Pat Jennings.

gun__1322669536_lukic_johnBy the middle of the 1984-85 season he was the club’s No. 1, and won the League Cup in 1987 and the Division One title in 1989. He was ever present in Arsenal’s first team throughout seasons 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1989-90. He played in the final game of the 1989 season where Arsenal won the title in the last minute of the game against Liverpool, with John starting the move which led to Michael Thomas’ famous goal.

In the summer of 1990 Arsenal manager George Graham signed David Seaman from Queens Park Rangers – Seaman had ironically been his understudy at Leeds. This outraged many Arsenal fans at the time, especially as John was a fan favourite. On his departure, Graham commented “I still think John Lukic is one of the best keepers in the country; I just think David Seaman is the best”

Having played 277 times for the Gunners, he rejoined Leeds for £1million, playing a further 265 times and winning a second League title in 1991-92 and a runners up medal in the League Cup in 1995-96

His career took another twist when he rejoined Arsenal in 1996 as understudy to Seaman and four years later was on the bench for Arsenal’s UEFA Cup final defeat to Galatasaray. John became the oldest player to feature in a Champions League match when, in October 2000, he played against Lazio at the age of 39 years and 311 days.

In 2000, after a series of injuries to the club’s other ‘keepers, he made a brief return to the first team, playing four times. The last of these four games, against Derby County, was a month shy of his 40th birthday – he is also one of several players to have played in the top flight of English football in four separate decades.

11. David Seaman 1990 – 2003

David played for 13 years and appeared in 564 games.

David was born in Rotherham, South Yorkshire; he began his career at Leeds United, the club he supported as a boy. However (much to his disappointment), he was not wanted by then-manager Eddie Gray, who had been his favourite player. David went to Division 4 club Peterborough United for a £4,000 fee in August 1982, where he began to make a name for himself.

Just over two years later, in October 1984, Second Division club Birmingham City paid £100,000 for his services. They ended up winning promotion at the end of that season, but were relegated again at the end of the following season. Seaman was not to follow them back to Division Two, however as in August 1986, David moved to Queens Park Rangers for £225,000. He earned his first England cap, which came under Bobby Robson in a friendly against Saudi Arabia in November 1988. Whilst at Q.P.R.,he was coached by Arsenal1971 double-winner Bob Wilson, who was to work with him for more than a decade.

Arsenal manager George Graham paid Leeds United £1.3 million for him which, at the time was a British record for a goalkeeper with John Lukic leaving to rejoin Leeds. Seaman became the cornerstone of an Arsenal back five which kept 23 clean sheets and conceded just 18 goals en route to the 1990/91 League title. His qualities were manifold – he had sharp reflexes, excellent positional sense, great judgement from crosses and bags of courage.

seaman1504_176880aOne of his most memorable moments came in April 2003 when Arsenal was defending a 1-0 lead in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Sheffield United at Old Trafford. In the closing minutes he was stranded when Paul Peschisolido headed towards goal but somehow he threw himself across goal and reached back to claw the ball away from under the crossbar. What made the save even more remarkable was that it was made in his 1,000th professional game. A month later, as Arsenal’s captain, he lifted the FA Cup at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium following a 1-0 win against Southampton. After 564 appearances and eight major trophies, it was his final act as an Arsenal player and a fitting climax to his Arsenal career.

He retired from the game on 13 January 2004, following a recurring shoulder injury.

He was appointed an MBE in 1997 for services to the sport.

12. Jens Lehmann 2003-2011.

Jens played for 11 years and appeared in 200 games.

Jens was born in Essen, Germany.

The German international signed for Arsenal from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in July 2003. During his first spell with Arsenal he played in every match of the Club’s unbeaten league campaign in 2003/04, when he was awarded the Premier League Golden Glove Award for his integral part in the ‘Invincibles’ season. He also won the Premier League title in 2003/04, the Community Shield in 2004 and an FA Cup winner’s medal in 2005, when he famously saved from Paul Scholes in the victorious penalty shoot-out

However, his style of play, often coming out of his goal to intercept passes occasionally led to mistakes, as it did in the title-winning match against Spurs when he pushed Tottenham striker Robbie Keane as they both waited for a Tottenham corner, he also made a mistake that led to the equalising goal in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat at home to Chelsea the same season.

Before joining Arsenal he was a Bundesliga title winner with Borussia Dortmund in 2002, and UEFA Cup winner with Schalke in 1997. He also had a brief spell with AC Milan in 1998.

He was a regular fixture for the Germany national team making 61 appearances before retiring from international football in 2008, Jens was a member of the Germany World Cup squads in 1998, 2002 and 2006, in addition to their squads for the European Championship Finals in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

soc_g_jens_576He was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and he has been selected for three World Cup squads and also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets – not having conceded a goal in 10 matches while playing for Arsenal.

After leaving Arsenal he joined German club Stuttgart, where he spent two years before announcing his retirement from football at the end of last season. He rejoined Arsenal on a short-term basis in March 2011 during the time when, Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone were out through injury. He only made one appearance during his three-month spell back, helping Arsenal to victory at Blackpool.

Jens set a national team record of not conceding a goal for 681 minutes in a friendly against Switzerland on 26 March 2008


Szczesny – Arsenal’s No 1?

August 2, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

With the season fast approaching and yet another summer passing without the departure of Almunia and without the arrival of the much craved experienced custodian I thought it would be a good time to assess our current goalkeeping line up against the rest of the top four wannabes.

So let’s look at our current crop first.

Szczesny – aged 21 – this lad is the real deal in my opinion. A good communicator, confident to come for the high ball, and an excellent starfish approach to deal with one on ones. There are still a couple of areas for improvement one is decision making under pressure the mad rush out for a 50:50 through ball which will come with experience. The other is his kicking which again will come with age and strength development but is such a necessity in the modern game, especially as we as a team so often lose the fifty-fifty ball that the kick needs to be competed twenty yards past halfway line rather than on it.

At 6ft 5 he provides an imposing figure in the goal although for me I would like to see him fill out a bit as a bit of extra padding for a goalkeeper is useful when being challenged in mid air.

One thing that does not appear to be an issue is his confidence, he appears to have an arrogant streak about him, which all the best keepers need, even after the Carling cup final he came back to give a good display against Sunderland before being injured against Barca. It is these moments of error where only the keeper is to blame and how the keeper responds to it that truly separates the great from the good keepers.

Half a season of top flight football under the belt will have benefited him. Perhaps the best thing that has been said about him was from his Brentford manager Andy Scott during his loan spell during 2009-10. “It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn’t saved it.”

Fabianski age 26 – I believe he has had enough chances, whilst his general keeping improved last season there is still an underlying weakness in his basics, in my opinion he snatches at the ball which leaves him vulnerable to fumbling it, and for me is too jumpy on his feet.

The only keeper around our rivals that I could liken him to is Gomes, the same scruffiness to the style of keeping which concerns me when watching. He is 6ft 3 but somehow he manages to make himself look 5ft 9.

Mannone – aged 23, again not good enough for the Nunber One shirt although he is a good shot stopper. Like Szczesny he seems to have an unwavering confidence. Last season on loan at Hull he received some good reports bit unfortunately his appearances were cut short by injuries.

So that’s our bunch I’ve left out Manuel because he as we all know has had his day. I think despite that Szczesny has been given squad number 13 for the forthcoming season that he will be first choice, although I expect Wenger to make plenty of noise that Fabianski is still in the running to keep the younger of the two Poles in check throughout the season.

So what about our rivals?

Manchester United, after losing Van Der Saar who has been unquestionably the best keeper in the league for the last three or four seasons Ferguson has decided to invest in youth. He has signed the 20 year old De Gea, however the noises coming out of Old Trafford are not resoundingly positive. Ferguson has signed him it appears because he feels he missed out on Cech at a similar age due to worrying about age.

The goalkeeping coach has cast some doubt on his decision making saying he expected him to come for a high ball that led to a conceded goal in a pre season friendly, a view Ferguson shared before retracting his comments and saying he didn’t think he had a chance with the goal. Additionally Ferguson has questioned his physical build. He is not a fluent English speaker and therefore will have a communication issue.

With Kuszczak requesting a move away from Old Trafford Ferguson is left with Anders Lindergard (27) and the young Ben Amos (20) as cover should De Gea be left out for any reason. I think United have left themselves remarkably exposed in this area.

Chelsea have Cech who has never recovered the form he showed before his unfortunate collision with Hunt’s shin (accidental my arse). He still remains one of the best shot stoppers in the league but his timidness in aerial duels since that injury has led to Chelsea looking more vulnerable from set pieces. Like Ferdinand and Vidic, Terry and teammates have never looked comfortable with anyone else behind them, so for them an injury to Cech would leave them fielding Turnbull or Hilario, Hilario has often been called upon and found wanting, Turnbull has less experience but is probably second choice. Combined Hilario and Turnbull they have made 26 appearances in five years.

Spurs have signed the ageing Friedel, whilst last season he continued to defy his age with superb performances for Villa he is not getting any younger, older goalkeepers hit an age where everything looks great one day and two weeks later the age starts to tell and the injuries mount up. Gomes always makes me smile as despite some great shot stopping he is always prone to an error or two. As extra cover they have Cudicini who I would have liked to see us sign when Lehman departed.

The Twitcher has assembled an experienced group of goalkeepers but only Cudicini has ever set the world alight on the top level and at 37 his best days are behind him as he proved last year. His game was all about shot stopping and agility, you just can’t keep that going into your late thirties as a keeper and to survive at the top level you need to rely on your mind more than your body.

Man City have Joe Hart who benefited from a season long loan in with Birmingham to return to City last season and capture the starting slot. He is probably the most complete young goalkeeper in this crop and will go on to be one of the best England has produced. With Given left for Villa the only cover at Eastlands is provided by ex Arsenal trainee Stuart Taylor, who at the age of 30 has never found a regular Number One berth that he desired when he left. The other backup is Neilsen. Like Chelsea reserve keepers these two have only a handful of games at the top flight and any serious injury to Hart would leave them also exposed.

Liverpool still have Reina who Carragher has called the best goalkeeper in the world (after gifting us an equaliser at the start of last season) despite not even being Spain’s number one. I think he is good in every aspect of keeping but he is not great in any. As an ever present he has also prevented the reserve keepers any game time so if any injury occurs they would also be exposed to fielding Brad Jones or the untested Doni.

Having taken a more detailed look at the goalkeepers among our closest rivals it is difficult to see why our goalkeeping options are so maligned. It is without doubt a fact that we have not had a number one since Lehman good enough for the level we compete at. However take the main keeper away from City, Chelsea or Liverpool and they look very vulnerable, Spurs have assembled a group of experienced but hardly world class keepers and United find themselves in a similar position to us, except they have spent a lot more acquiring the group.

I hope that Szczesny continues to improve and we can finally put the goalkeeping question to bed and be safe in the knowledge we have a keeper for the next ten to fifteen years who we can trust. What I would ask of Wenger is that our young keepers coming through are sent on loan to other Premier League clubs as for keepers the only place to learn is at the sharp end, and I’d rather that it be at the expense of WBA or Wigan than for us.


Szczesny, come on down and save our season – written by London

September 2, 2010

The idea, believed by some, that Szczesny is waiting in the wings ready to swoop down and save our season makes me laugh; in fact, I find it ridiculous.

I am as excited as anyone about his future prospects but to have him playing in the first team now on the back of one good season at Brentford is foolish beyond hope.

Yes, I am aware of all the glowing reports from our west London neighbours, one of my best friends is a season ticket holder and was telling me that the commonly held view was that he is the best goalkeeper they have ever seen. The trouble with that is, I couldn’t help asking myself, when I first heard it, when was the last time that they had a decent player in their ranks to really compare him with. To say that the bar is set at a low level is an understatement of some magnitude. This is Brentford we are talking about not Juventus or some such club where he would have got a real test.

This situation reminds me of the time a couple seasons ago when Denilson had just started to appear in the CC; he played alongside Diaby in many games and shone. The Brazilian was hailed as yet another hidden gem uncovered by Wenger and demands of first team football were the order of the day.

Denilson got the chance to play in the League; in fact, he has played so many games familiarity has bred contempt to the point where his performances are now criticised as is Wenger for picking him.

What many people have forgotten is the reason he got his chance in the first place and why he has played so many games is due to injuries and not as many people perceive to be Wenger’s obstinacy. The Brazilian initially made it into the first team because of injuries to Diaby and Gilberto and it is worth remembering that when Bert returned he was pants so Denilson rightly moved up the pecking order. With the re-emergence of Diaby, Denilson has moved back down; although, the more observant will have noticed that when Ramsey was fit the Brazilian was behind him on the bench. We could debate this until the ends of the earth but the point I am making is that, although, Denilson got his chance due to some impressive performances in the CC he got most of them due to injuries.  I expect Denilson to now evolve into the first team at a more suitable pace.

The connection between Szczesny and Denilson is that I see the same fate waiting just around the corner for the Pole as the young Brazilian has endured; a couple of immature slips and people will be calling for his head.

We are in the doldrums of a two week International break, there are blogs out there that pride themselves on putting out a fresh post every day, nothing wrong with that except as the days slowly roll by it gets harder and harder to find something positive to say and the temptation to take the far easier option of negativity becomes greater and greater; but, just before that stage arrives blogs try and play the, we should give the youngsters a go, card and it never ceases to surprise me how many people are only too eager to jump on the band wagon.

Szczesny will be called for by people who care more about their blogs than they do about the good of Arsenal, it will be your choice as to whether you agree — I don’t — too much expectation too early in a career can be very damaging, just ask Denilson.

Written by London, picture by Rasp.


Almunia stays as number one so let’s move on – written by kelsey

September 1, 2010

We were lucky enough to have two posts written for today, if you would like to leave a comment or read what others have written please click here to be taken to the first post of the day.

Written by kelsey

As another transfer window closes the Arsenal faithful are firmly split into two camps as to why we haven’t strengthened in what is generally accepted our weakest position, that of goal keeper. Almunia has had his critics for a number of seasons and the expectation that Fabianski would be challenging him for the right to be first choice evaporated during last season with a number of howlers and inexperience, especially in the Champions league game at Porto. Wenger talks a lot about mental strength and to be fair to Almunia he came through a difficult week even admitting  that the media attention was concerning him and affecting his concentration, yet his display at Blackburn was admirable.

Possibly there was a deal for Schwarzer which depended on a number of other factors and it is said that an increased bid from two to four million was still rejected yesterday morning. None of us know what really went on behind closed doors, but to blame Wenger is a tad unfair. He can only be guided as to the players he seems will fit into our system and the negotiations are left to others. Personally, I don’t see a great loss in us not signing Schwarzer as he doesn’t have age on his side or Champions League experience.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and for the last two seasons all we have heard from fans is the name Given,hardly a word about any other keeper. No one knows for sure if he would have been an improvement,even though the stats show he may have been.

We have tightened up the defence which has been evident in our opening games and that may just alleviate the pressure on the Spaniard. He definitely has his faults,but to be handed the armband on several occasions shows that Wenger still rates him.

IMO the real problem is that with Fabianski being so low on confidence we were looking for another keeper to vie for the number one position and now if Almunia should get injured our back up is wafer thin.

We’ve heard a lot about there being more money available this season, but one can see that transfers are now very complicated as many proposed deals fell through yesterday, even though the media reported some as “done “.

Maybe Wenger is a shield for the BoD and he is under orders not to spend more than they think right,or maybe he has carte blanche and just won’t spend if he feels a player is over valued. Do we really know ?

We have to move on and build on our good start to the season and get behind the keeper.It is not an envious position to be a keeper as the errors are always magnified ten times to the saves. Was Reina lambasted with our equaliser at Anfield, or even the flavour of the month, Joe Hart with his elementary mistake in trying to save a badly struck penalty by Darren Bent at Sunderland last Sunday ?

I know most are disappointed but as fans we have to accept the situation and not as I have read on several blogs, to ask for Wenger to be hung drawn and quartered.

Many will disagree with my assessment and I am sure we can have a lively debate about this today.

To return to the main page of comments please click here