I have to say, I have been astounded by some of the recent criticism of our keeper, and not just on the usual self-hating Arsenal blogs. It’s funny how after a short injury, and one poor showing, fans not only jump on one of our guys, but re-write his past history as well.
It’s important to let you all know, I actually have appreciated Mannone for a while now, and think he might have a real future. Maybe a great number 2 for us, or who knows, possibly more. Alot of people wrote him off last year because of one big error. But in pre-season matches, 3 matches this season, and a few that I watched this summer from a couple seasons ago, He appears pretty solid to me. His record on loan is quite good also.
Back to Szczesny. First off, believe me when I tell you that 80% of the comments I’ve read on the blogs this week forgot that he actually gave us the first clean sheet against Sunderland, giving Mannone credit for three, and complaining (after the fact) that Chezzer got the start against Southhampton. But more importantly, talking about his arrogance and attitude. For me, give me a keeper with arrogance (confidence), taking charge on set pieces. With no sign of fear or doubt in his eyes. You know what I’m talking about. Almunia had that look of doubt, even though he tried to hide it. When I see that look, I lose confidence, as I’m sure the teammates do. I believe oppnents also sense it.
Another thing everyone was talking about was Szcsesny’s distribution. Horrible this past Saturday, the worst I’ve seen from him – yes, but everyone is now saying that it’s been a huge weakness in his game. Why don’t I remember anyone mentioning this last season ? Because, although he could be better at this, he’s actually not been bad, and still very young for this level. Good enough for it not to be brought up by the fans who think of him as the number 1 since he took over. Also, something like distribution is certainly not going to be overlooked by Le Professor, more important to our game than most teams.
And someone wisely pointed out here the other day something I thought about his mistake against Southhampton, allowing the goal. That is – I believe he has had a rib injury, which when you go arms stretched out high, leaves sore ribs very exposed to contact, and might have been part of the reason for the mistake. Even if not, it was just one goal in a match where we could afford it. I don’t want to be negative, but in the Liverpool match, Mannone let a header drop right in front of goal, and we were lucky it didn’t cause a problem, as well as not collecting another one higher.
I think everyone, like me, was so disappointed not to get the clean sheets record, that they simply took it out on our Pole. I’m not saying he’s untouchable as number 1, and I love competition, if only to keep the back-up sharp. But, to me, it would take more bad performance before I lose confidence in him. I couldn’t care less about what happened for the Polish team, or what he tweets. For the record- I was rolling on the floor laughing when he tweeted at Ramsey about his golf outfit.. a hilarious joke between friends, slightly irreverent, maybe just better off the internet. But sense of humour is part of team chemistry. If he starts acting like Alex Song, then I will worry.
Lastly, let’s not forget that he played the final few matches last season with a shoulder injury, and the whole season with a very undisciplined defense. Even though many of us suspected that the talent was there in our defenders. We also went through long stretches with players out of position because of four fullback injuries. And again, while so many of us complained about allowing 49 goals last season, only on minor occasions did we have complaints about the goalkeeping. With a number like that, most fans would be calling for the keepers head, yet most transfer window dreamers were only hoping for a strong backup, to keep Szczesny on his toes.
How quickly public opinion changes.