It seems like forever since Arsenal had a goalkeeper everyone was pleased and happy with. Their trio of Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone has been at the club as the “future” for quite some time, but none of them have proven they have what it takes to become the one fans can trust between the posts for many years.
Fabianski seems to be one of these ‘forever young’ types. He’s been with the team since 2007, playing behind Manuel Almunia for a few years, hoping he’ll be the one to inherit his place. Injuries, and the usual blunders expected from an Arsenal keeper, have kept him from getting anywhere far with the team, or becoming a mainstay with the national team. Since 2007, he has played 67 times, conceding 70 goals.
Vito Mannone is 25, three years younger than Fabianski, but has been with Arsenal, also as part of the youth setup, since 2005. He’s usually the ‘number 3’ goalkeeper, but did play in 9 league matches this season thanks to injuries that kept both Szczesny and Fabiansky away from the pitch. Still, the Italian has never been truly impressive between the posts, and isn’t likely to become the starting goalkeeper of the team anytime soon.
And what about Szczesny, the premier keeper Wenger has playing for him, being the starter over the last couple of seasons? While Szczesny is a good one on one stopper and has fantastic reflexes, he has been known to be involved in embarrassing blunders with his defensive line. His ability to handle the ball with his feet, becoming more and more important in today’s game, is awkward and times, and there is the decision making which has cost Arsenal more than once.
Then again, you need to remember he’s only 23, and paying his due now might mean a better player for the future. Still, Szczesny might be exciting to watch, with his instinctive saves and over the top reactions to wins, goals and impressive stops, but there’s just something about him that makes most not trust him.
Of course it all has to do with what Arsenal expect to be “when they grow up”: Just another team that’s satisfied with clawing their way into the top 4, or a force that fights for titles and wants to be among the top 8 in Europe every season. For that kind of success, no one on the Arsenal roster is a good enough goalkeeper to help make that quite reasonable dream come true.