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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Arsenal: Fabianski or Szczesny - who is your number one?


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Sqf Josh 1

Szczesny or Fabianksi? The big question.

They’re both Polish, they’re both young, and ultimately they’re both a bit above mediocre. But mediocrity seems to be the norm with Arsenal keepers. So without any alternatives (Mannone isn’t an alternative), which one is better?

SzczesnySzczesny

The boy has talent; nobody can question that. He has what it takes to be a great keeper (including the crazy gene), and after all, he does come from a family of great keepers (although let’s not talk about his father’s comments). The big(ger) Pole breathes an air of confidence that can only be categorised as a strength.

Yet one cannot maintain a first team spot based on confidence, nor family history. After a string of average performances, Arsene Wenger has taken the liberty of dropping Szczesny to the bench. The situation emulates that of Arshavin, and one is only left to ask, is Szczesny really doing all it takes to deserve the number one shirt? The mistakes that led to his bench warming position weren’t blatantly obvious, through-the-leg-esque errors, but they were savable, especially for a professional playing in the Premier League. It’s almost as if he’s been waking up at 11 o’clock, sleeping on last week's kit and then speeding to the stadium while still finishing his breakfast. He just hasn’t really been there.

Wenger benching him may just be the kick-up-the-backside that Szczesny needs, because, after all, I still really believe that the quality is there. It may be hibernating, but it is there. In terms of his aerial presence he is infallible, and set pieces are arguably Arsenal’s weakest link. His big frame is an asset for penalties, as well as just an asset in general. However, his game is far from perfect. His distribution is definitely a flaw. This can be worked on.

A past keeper myself, I was once told that shot-stopping is the easiest element of a keeper’s game; it’s all the other technicalities that deserve the most praise. And by no means can Szczesny not shot-stop. He wouldn’t wear the number one shirt if he couldn’t.

FabianskiFabianski

When I look at Fabianksi I think, wow, he’s a perfect second keeper. He’s too good to be a third keeper, and not good enough to be a first. Games seem to head in a safe fashion until that moment of goalmouth panic, leading me to think: Damn, we need Szczesny back. As I mentioned earlier, shot-stopping is the easiest element of a keeper’s game. And Fabianski can do that: quite well too. Yet his indecisiveness is the small(er) Pole’s downfall. Too often does he come out for the catch to only end up catching fresh air (or an opposition’s head). Maybe it can be worked on; maybe it can’t. However, ‘Flapihandski’ isn’t a totally misguided nickname. Regardless, as of now, I do not feel confident with Fabianski in goal against rugby teams such as Stoke.

Unfortunately, with Szczesny’s head in the clouds, we have no other option, and thus the second keeper is our only option (again, Mannone is not an alternative).

Conclusion

In reality, Arsenal does not possess a keeper with the potential to take a side to silverware, and yes, a good keeper can do this. There really is not a great deal of difference between Szczesny, Fabianski and Mannone, whereas ordinarily, they should not be comparable. Competition is healthy, but there is a big difference in the competition between De Gea and Lindegard compared to that of Szczesny and Fabianski. I’d take either of those United keepers to be the Arsenal keeper, but would hesitate to take the ones we already have.

Both Fabianski and Szczesny are young. Give them time. But while they develop to either become great keepers or just another couple of flops, we need an established man between the sticks.

Fabianski has improved. Szczesny has got worse. If they were both in peak form, I’d choose Szczesny. As of now, I would reluctantly play Fabianski.

In reality, it’s sad that we have to rely on either of them.

Calling all Arsenal fans: Who would you rather have as your number one. Fabianski or Szczesny? Should Wenger's first priority this summer be to buy an experienced keeper? Who would you like to see between the sticks at the Emirates? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Antony Melvin

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