Arsene Wenger has quite the selection dilemma on his hands ahead of this weekend’s vital tie (it seems I’ve said that a ton recently) against Swansea City. Wojciech Szczesny had established himself as Arsenal’s undisputed number one, however mistakes and being told to take a ‘breather’ for the Munich clash has reopened the goalmouth for the injury plagued Lukasz Fabianski.
The 27-year-old produced the first clean sheet for a visiting side at the Allianz Arena this season, admittedly though the home side struggled to recreate their precision finishing that handed them a 3-1 advantage in the first leg. But you cannot deny the Polish international commanded the backline well, dominated his box and most importantly – made no mistakes.
Szczesny has hit a rough patch recently with complacency a high possibility with the usual backup Vito Mannone proving not up to grade and selection pretty much automatic. The 22-year-old is a massive talent and has experienced the highest level of football already despite his tender age, but competition with his compatriot is exactly what he needs to work harder on the training pitch and improve his consistency.
Wenger has reiterated the importance of the elder Fabianski and hailed his mental attitude after overcoming a series of injuries that has kept him out for the entire season. The Frenchman told Arsenal Player on Fabianski’s outstanding performance against Munich:
He played with authority. We know his talent and I’m very happy with his performance
He has changed a lot, there has been a complete mental transformation in Lukasz’s attitude. He is more vocal, has more authority and mentally he absorbs the pressure of the game much better.
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He has a huge talent, which we know all about. Sometimes to go out of the game for a while helps people to mature and think about their own game. If they really want to become a better player, they think, ‘How can I become better’.
I think it is a combination of both [working with him and his own maturity] but I would give him 90 per cent of the credit. He works on all the aspects of his game.
Top-level sportsmen are always under pressure because they live with the job for 24 hours a day and think about it. There are some who live for only two hours with their job, but they never become great players.
In the longer-term, that makes the difference. It has to always be with you.
What makes Fabianski’s clean sheet more impressive is the amount of pressure the Pole was under after spending so long on the treatment table. Hopefully he can build upon the performance should he get another start this weekend, it will go some distance to repair his Arsenal future.
His contract is set to expire this summer and according to reports he was close to securing a move to Terek Grozny in Russia, but a deal never materialized during the winter. So it is highly likely he will move on at the end of this season unless both the Club and the ‘keeper see his future in North London.
So to answer the question – which Pole should Wenger choose in goal?
Well for the sake of my Fantasy Premier League side I’d pick Szczesny, but there are more important matters at hand than my ten quid bet, such as Fabianski’s contract and complacency that has come to light over Szczesny’s automatic selection. For these reasons I’d like to see Fabianski hold his place against Swansea to create a De Gea/Lindegaard situation Sir Alex has dealt with.
The Gunners either need to re-sign Fabianksi this summer or grab a new ‘keeper in the window which will most likely prove more costly and there is always an element of risk involved in a transfer. So giving our elder Polish goalkeeper more chances this season could prove instrumental in the long run.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Fabianski deserves another shot in goal after his Munich heroics or should his compatriot Szczesny return as his shirt number suggests? He is after all the ‘Number 1’.