The Next Safe Hands – From Where Though??

7 Apr

For those who don’t know, Lukasz Fabianski’s contract is up on June 30th of this year, with Vito Mannone going on record telling officials he wants to leave the club this summer after a lack of opportunities. Personally, although Fabianski has had a strong end to the season, I don’t feel he should be offered a new contract. He’s had a tumultuous time at the Emirates but it does seem like he needs a new challenge away from the spotlight of playing for such a big team in order to get his career back on track and challenge for the Poland No.1 jersey again as he was once tipped to. ( With that in place, you can definitely see Arsenal buying a goalkeeper this summer. I’ve had a look at the prospective targets that have been bandied about by media.

Victor Valdes:

Over 300 appearances for Barcelona makes you think he has to be our top choice. Well he does have more mistakes in him than people think and I don’t think you can look at his number of trophies and clean sheets and think “Wow, what a keeper”. I mean he plays for a team that more often than not has been the best in world football throughout his career where they play games without the opposition getting out of their half. 

Valdes isn’t very good in my opinion. Gooners may point to him saving Thierry’s numerous one on ones in Paris 2006 but in all honesty, Titi hit most of them straight at him. He can make a few good stops in the season but so can Wojiech in my opinion. He hasn’t been THAT bad. I honestly feel the reason he has managed to stay No.1 for that long is that he came along at a time when Barcelona started winning. When Ronaldinho was performing magic, the mantle then picked up by Iniesta and Messi. His errors would’ve been magnified tenfold had they not been around.

His transfer fee is £10m. For a Spanish goalkeeper which has no physical attributes for the Premier League? No thanks. I consider £10m expensive given his wages would be in the £90k region too and I honestly feel Szczesny will displace whoever comes in within two seasons anyway so is that amount really worth it? Not in my opinion.


Asmir Begovic:

Begovic is a class act. I thought he was quite assured at Pompey but had a very poor defence in front of him similar to Sczcesny this season. As soon as he went to Stoke, after restling the No.1 spot off Sorensen, he really proved his worth. At 25 he’s quite young still for a keeper and is only reaching his peak now. Given Wenger sees Szczesny as eventual no.1, he’d be standing in his way slightly for the no.1 birth. Furthermore, if De Gea was to have another hairy moment from now till the end of the season, I could see Man United coming in for him to sure things up. Many point to De Gea’s transfer fee meaning they will persist with him but with Valdes leaving Barca, Daily Mail reporting a fee has been agreed with Stoke for Begovic with United, Butland going to Stoke this summer after agreeing a move in January and De Gea reportedly home sick. 1+1 does equal 2 after all…..


Pepe Reina:

A non story in my book. His wages are humungous for a player who hasn’t achieved much in the English game (No, a Carling cup and an FA Cup do not count for much). His Champions League pedigree hasn’t been questioned for almost 5 years which is far too long for a supposed £100k a week keeper. He’s welcome if he takes a wage cut because I can tell you Liverpool won’t sell him on the cheap given their new stingy financial regime they’ve put in place.


Michel Vorm:

Now we’re getting to the juicy stuff. Good with his feet and already playing in a team with a similar philosophy, you could argue Vorm would be a good option. At 29, he’s currently in his peak yet doesn’t represent a long term stumbling block for Wojiech yet at the same time has experience he can pass on. However he signed a new 4 year deal in September 2012 so you can imagine he would cost in excess of £6 million. He wouldn’t demand as high a wage as the aforementioned so I see him as someone Steve Rowley and his gang should be giving serious recommendation to. There is a sidenote of the fact he is “only” 6 ft. During the summer of 2010 it was rumoured Wenger didn’t want Shay Given because he considered him too short. It is possible Wenger may think they same of Vorm but you would think he would allow his stubborn streak to settle in order to solve the No.1 jersey problems for now.


Rene Adler:

I think the speculation is more to do with the fact that Wenger has gone all German on us recently with Podolski, Per, Gnabry and Eisfeld. Adler left Leverkusen on a free transfer in the summer of 2012. Although the No.1 Jersey has been somewhat shared between himself and Drobny he has only started to settle at Hamburg SV and it would seem a strange decision unless Agent Per was able to work his magic again.

His frame is fairly standard for that of a keeper at 6’3 and has a wealth of experience at Bundesliga level with 155 apps which to me shows he could deal with the physical attributes. I imagine his fee would be about £8.5m given he’s only been at his current club one season and would demand wages of £60k – 70k given he is a full German international. Worth a punt but does represent some risk for me given language barrier and fact he’s previously had serious knee surgery which stopped him becoming Germany’s next No.1 in 2009.


John Ruddy:

Unlike the aforementioned, Ruddy hasn’t been pinpointed by Arsenal if speculation is anything to go by but I honestly think Ruddy is a ruddy good keeper (sorry). He’s only played 13 fixtures this season yet managed 49 saves. I’m very old fashioned in that I think you need one British based keeper who understands the art of “giving the team a bollocking”. Szczesny is quite good in this aspect too and I’ve previously applauded the man of 22 for not being afraid to shout at a Centre Back with 80 caps for Germany.

Just by watching him when I can I’d say his passing isn’t good enough for Arsenal along with long shot saving ability. Most of his plaudits seem to come from his point blank range saves and I’d argue they’re better than most the keepers in this list. With a low transfer fee and low wage demands, he’d certainly be a keeper Wenger would love too.


Petr Cech:

I wish Arsenal wouldn’t waste their time on targets who don’t have a chance of coming *sighs*. Cech loves Chelsea (pass me the sick bucket, can’t think why). He commands a wage of £110k if rumours are to be correct. Yes he is a class keeper but would cost in excess of £10 million. He is however the right age, has tremendous Champions League and Premier League pedigree and has a large presence so you can see why he’s been thought of. But it won’t happen. I just can’t see it being the case. I hope I’m wrong.




Games played*

Saves made




Penalty Saves

Pass Success %

Victor Valdes







Pepe Reina







Asmir Begovic







Michel Vorm







Rene Adler







John Ruddy







Simon Mignolet







Petr Cech







Wojiech Szczesny







Lukasz Fabianski







Stats courtesy of, and

*Games played are those in their respective leagues


Right let’s break these stats down. Pass success varies on what team the keeper plays for and whether they play out from the back. Most of Arsenal’s targets play for clubs who DO play from the back. Shock that. The ones with lower % don’t unsurprisingly. Personally, I find Adler’s, Vorm’s and Reina’s the most impressive because they’re in the 60’s and 70’s yet they all can find their respective front men AND play to their nearest defender if what I’ve seen is true. Given we have a big man we can lump it to; it is a useful skill to have from a keeper of ours. I look to Ramsey’s only goal of the season v Olympiakos as a blueprint of what could be if we were to adopt the ugly strategy in times of need.


Interestingly the two keepers that Arsenal have been linked with the most out of that list are the two who have, well, shit stats compared to our No.1. Reina and Valdes make on average 2.7 and 2.6 saves respectively as opposed to our 22 year old pole (I’m going to persist with mentioning his age because I don’t like the hate he’s received).

Looking at the table you’d argue the two who’d be perfect yet are acquirable realistically are Rene Adler and Michel Vorm. The former has Champions League experience, is an international keeper of 11 caps and at 28 is ripe for the picking….. Literally. The latter is premier league proven, seems to be better with his feet and is also of a good age to pass on experience at 29.


 Who would I choose? I’ve argued in the past that there are some things stats don’t show and that you have to watch a player to truly understand how good they are. I’ve watched Vorm since he came to the Premier League in August 2011. I’ve watched Adler on odd occasions since I saw his phenomenal performance for Germany V Russia in 2008 ( where he looked like the best keeper in the world with some of his saves. Yet for some reason I think Adler provides better pedigree for Arsenal FC. To honestly know how good a player is, they have to have mixed it with the best. Rene Adler has 24 appearances in Europe (A combination of the Champions league and the then named UEFA Cup) whilst Vorm makes his European debut if he’s at Swansea next season. Vorm has 9 appearances for Holland while Adler has 11 for Germany. Its Adler for me, let me know what you think on Twitter @SuburbanGunner .


Nicklas Bendtner – The Myth

5 Mar

He loves a bit of controversy. Paddy Power underwear, leaving the club with his jeans by his knees and now a drink driving ban has led to the 25 year old being banned by the Danish Football Federation. But it could all work in his and maybe Arsenal’s favour this summer.


Bendtner has been out injured for the past three months which has all but made his contributions to the Turin club void during his time there. He reminds me a lot of Anelka. Both have had good days in N5. Both very outspoken, with questionable attitudes. Both know where the back of the net is. Both are talented. That much everyone knows. Anelka has gone on to be a journeyman where ever he has gone. There is a possibility the same could happen to Bendtner now. Already he’s had loan spells at Birmingham, Sunderland and Juventus at the age of 25 in and around his Arsenal career.

Ah, his Arsenal career. That has been very up and down too. If his Arsenal career is finished, it’ll be with 45 goals from 157 games. Compare that to Gervinho, Chamakh, Park Chu Young and previously Francis Jeffers, he’s a world beater. Approximately a goal every four games. That’s the same as Lukas Podolski, one of the bright sparks in an otherwise very shit season.

I think there’s space for him. He scored goals at Sunderland when fit and I’d of bet money he would’ve done too had he been in good shape at Juventus. Cast your memory back to the 2010/11 season, he was our third choice CF in a 4-2-3-1 and as a way to gain minutes would come on as a winger. Funny stat about that. Playing out wide, he actually created more than Samir Nasri when their arsenal careers are compared. Of course stats don’t tell the whole story but I read that the other day and thought I had to stick it in there for good measure.

We actually have abundance in wingers two years on and given Bendtner knows the PL like the back of his hand, I wouldn’t mind him being third choice. Aaah but there’s another problem. His contract is up in 2014. With that the case, it’d be nice to make some money off the bloke. However, Dick Law can’t seem to negotiate a loaf of bread if the last 5 years are anything to go by, so worst case scenario, we’ll have to train him up, get him match fit and have him delivering in FA Cup/Capital Once Cup matches. We need strikers and very good ones. Giroud is our only one. Walcott is still learning his trade there. Gervinho by law should never play there again. When we were challenging for the title with a 4-2-3-1 formation, we’ve had three. In 07/08 it was Eduardo, RVP and Bendtner. In 10/11 season it was RVP, Chamakh and Bendtner. My point being we need strength in depth in order to get back to those heights. This season’s a write off in my book. Let it go. Let spurs have their glory, it’s short-lived, the stupid chickens from down the Seven Sisters. Buy a 9.5 striker in the summer the way we’ve been rumoured to and that’s what we’ll have

Arsenal haven’t been defensively solid since we sold Sol Campbell left and I’m not having anyone telling me otherwise. We had good fits and bursts with the Gallas-Vermaelen partnership but without looking with rose tinted glasses, I think my statement is true. The defensive work is going to need just that. A lot of WORK. In the mean time having options in the oppositions box is a way out. Manchester united have proved it this season. Outscore the opposition and you can win the league. I don’t think we’ll even win the league next season, those kinds of transformations don’t happen in the modern era, our issues are deep rooted in my honest opinion. But we need to start being competitive again and using what we have. Chamakh isn’t that. Park Chu young when he comes back from Spain won’t be that. Campbell is still unproven in England and very raw. Take a punt Wenger. You never know. He might have AVB with his pants down next season


Follow me on Twitter @SuburbanGunner 

The No.1 Conundrum – Stick or Twist?

24 Feb

He’s a lovable character is our Woijech. Known in Poland not only for being their No.1 keeper but for also being the son of legendary polish keeper Maciej Szczesny, who played for Legia Warsaw (not to mention punching Roberto Mancini in the face in 1991). I think most gooners know his story. He came to The Arsenal a flimsy teenager in 2006 and by the time he made his debut in 2009 he had experienced more than most men. In November 2008 he fractured both his arms whilst in the free weights section in the gym. The rehab for the injury was tiresome and there were some who thought he may not ever come back. But back he came. In September 2009 he made his first team debut against West Brom in the then known carling cup. Things slowed down then as he held down third choice with some reserve outings. But then came his break with a loan spell at Brentford. They also happen to be my local team and I saw him a couple of times. I remember Charlotte Jackson from SSN news being there too and she along with many bees supporters said he was the greatest keeper Brentford had ever had in their history. May not seem like much of an accolade but its one you’d rather have than not have.


Woijech then came back to Arsenal at the beginning of 2010/11 season and made another league cup appearance v Newcastle. Szczesny looked raw but the potential was evident. Then came his big break. Practising training before the match against Man Utd, Woijech shot at Fabianski and the latter hurt his arm. There was half an hour to go till kick off, Wenger had to throw him in at the deep end at Old Trafford. He performed admirably. Rooney tested him with a pile driver from 25 yards early on and he held on firmly, followed by a deft chip which required all 6’5 of his frame to keep out. We lost the match 1-0 to one of the jammiest goals you’ll ever see and our pole was only a fingertip away from that one too!

Injuries to Fabianski and Almunia had opened the way to Woijech and he didn’t disappoint. We had found a keeper who wasn’t error prone! He ended up making 24 appearances including outstanding efforts at the Emirates v Barcelona, v Man United in the return league fixture amongst many others. The only blot on the season was that his one mistake came in arguably the fixture he couldn’t afford to make one, the carling cup final. Who’s fault it really was remains to be seen. Whilst at the West Ham game this season, (where we won 5-1), i was discussing that game and one gooner in his 60’s told me “If that’d been Bob Wilson or David Seaman, they would’ve screamed at Koscielny to get the f*** out of the way”. You’d be hard done by to disagree with him.

In 2011/12 season, Woijech faced his first real big test when we were subjected to a drubbing 8-2 on the same stage he made his PL debut. That season he played every single CL and PL fixture and barring a few iffy moments at the end of the season (which I must stress were down to him requiring pain killing injections because we didn’t have an able No.2) he had enjoyed a fruitful first full season as No.1. He had produced a man of the match performance at Anfield and was clapped off the pitch by the kop. He’d also saved the penalty from Di Natale which would have left us failing to qualify for the champions’ league proper. He also produced phenomenal point blank saves against the likes of Bolton and Sunderland to make sure our early season jitters remained just that.

This season he hasn’t been consistently at top form like he was last season. After a horrible Euro’s where he was sent off in Poland’s first match at their home tournament, he didn’t feature again in the tournament. With Arsenal, after keeping a clean sheet at Sunderland, he was injured for two weeks before coming back v Southampton and dropping a regulatory cross to a goal in our 6-1 drubbing of the team. Word is he had been injured in the pre match warm up but elected to carry on. We didn’t see him again till Tottenham when we won 5-2 where he couldn’t do much about either goal. But mistakes began to creep into his game. He was poor v Munich where I honestly feel the Woijech of two seasons ago would’ve saved Kroos’s shot and as for the second goal from a corner, he has to collect the ball instead of palming it away. At Brighton, their second goal was a short corner routine and when the ball arrives in his area, he fails to collect leading to an equaliser. He attempted a stupid cruyff turn at Liverpool too and was almost punished by Sturridge. Against Blackburn, the ball was going towards his midrift is palmed into a dangerous area. Then most recently v Villa, Weimman’s shot just went straight through his hands. A clanger which could have had major repercussions had Santi Cazorla not scored a second.

So what next? At 22, it isn’t a necessity Wojiech plays week in week out and he’s a phenomenal goal keeper to have for cup games and if a No.1 keeper was to get injured. Names have been touted. Mignolet, Vorm and the press seems to have an obsession with Reina but with his wages that’s a stupid link, especially since no one really rates him anymore. Valdes is leaving Barcelona at the end of the season but I honestly do not rate him whatsoever and as seen before, foreign keepers who aren’t of the highest quality do struggle with the English league. Lloris was apparently on Wenger’s mind before Spurs came in but you won’t hear me talking what might’ve been. Fabianski is out of contract at the end of this season and Mannone has publicly said he wants out. Martinez is expected to be promoted to No.3 but the dilemma in the summer remains this. Do we buy a world class No.1 or someone happy to be No.2? Personally I’d go with the former. If Wojiech is as good as we all know he is, he’ll be back within a season or two as rightful No.1 but right now, the situation is all too comfortable it seems. He has 100 appearances for the club already, he’s been shown faith. A spell on the bench won’t hurt him, he wants to be a legend at the club, and he’s a proper gooner.

But right now we need a ready made No.1. Preferably one who is older with a level head. I listened to a Liam Brady interview a month ago and he said Wojiech has a tendency to go “looking for trouble”. He carried on saying the likes of Zoff (whom he played with in Italy) and Pat Jennings carried out their jobs without looking for trouble, they just did their job when called upon. I think Szczesny has that problem. Aside from his questionable shot stopping this season, he does like fancy cruyff turns, passing to a defender under pressure and rushing out of goal unceremoniously. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a phenomenal keeper in the making and he’ll match the records of some goalkeeping greats, but for now? I think he needs to learn from an older head.

Follow me on Twitter: @SuburbanGunner