The Arsenal goalkeeper saga rumbles on and will dog the club until January at the earliest. We’ve got ourselves into the situation where we have four first team keepers, who of course all want to play, plus the expectation that we are still in the market for another.
Every goalkeeper in the world seems fair game for a ‘linked to Arsenal’ story. Goonersaur lists twelve keepers we are apparently monitoring, despite missing out one that Caught Offside touted on Saturday.
Some football agents seem to think they are serving their clients by getting their names out there, journalists have pages to fill everyday and websites all love the traffic. Arsenal fans surfing the web are desperate for any news. I did a post called ‘Arsenal goalkeeper rumours‘ back in August and got a massive spike in site stats, it’s still the second highest scoring page. So there are plenty of reasons why this isn’t going away.
In the meantime, by which I means at least until 1st January, we have: four keepers who can read anywhere they like that they are not good enough; four keepers who all want to play; three keepers each week who feel pissed off; two keepers who don’t have anywhere to go on a Saturday and one keeper between the sticks each week with all of this on their shoulders trying to keep goal.
Even ardent Wenger fans, and I’m still pretty keen, have to admit we’ve made a dog’s dinner of this!
So what to do between now and the new year, and which goalkeeping rumours make any sense?
Now until the New Year
I don’t think there’s a massive amount to choose between Almunia and Fabianski. I think that they have similar strengths and weaknesses. On the upside, they are both agile shot-stoppers who are at the their best in open play situations or facing penalties. On the downside they can both be indecisive and get stranded between positioning options or a flapping too far from a high ball.
Is it about confidence, skill or experience? Probably a bit of all three and not the same mix for both. Given that Fabianski has just had two of his best performances in a row, I’d be inclined to give Almunia’s injured elbow a bit longer and keep him in the team for Birmingham. A successful run in the team would give him experience and confidence. Maybe enough to inform the club what to do with him January.
The best you can do for Szczesny and Mannone is alternate them on the bench or send one out on loan. It isn’t ideal but it’s about all they can get at the moment. I don’t think there is that much to choose between them at the moment. Szczesny was the more popular when we ran a poll last month, but I know that Mannone has his fans too.
Making sense of the rumours
Most transfer rumour are rubbish of course. But what sort of keeper makes sense for Arsenal. Only two I think. Option 1, is splash the cash for a really top keeper. You could call that the Buffon option. Option two is less cash for someone who isn’t one of the biggest names, but has proved themselves as a confident, self-assured, experienced keeper who is always in the right place, even if their time of cat-like agility is behind them. You could call that the Schwarzer option.
Whichever you go for, you then let three of the existing four go, leaving one as reserve and Shea as back-up.
I don’t see the point of another unproven keeper aged under twenty-five (the Begovic option). That wouldn’t make the choice any clearer than it is now.
And you resolve never to get into the situation where you have four first team keepers but no standout choice again.