Is it time Wenger finally ended Almunia's Arsenal career?

By Avenell Dave

When Manuel Almunia first started playing for Arsenal, there was a lot of negativity around him.

He's inexperienced, some said. He's never played top class football, said others. He's not authoratative enough, some lamented.

I urged my fellow Addicts to reserve judgement, to give the guy a chance to prove himself and show us what he could do.

After all, despite signing Jens Lehmann, Arsene Wenger's record with goalkeepers hasn't been great.

Rami Shabaan, Richard Wright, Mart Poom, Stuart Taylor and Guillaume Warmuz have all arrived and left with no hint of following on our great goalkeeping traditions.

When I started supporting Arsenal, Pat Jennings was in goal and even though he'd had his best years at T*tt*nh*m, he was still a goalkeeper of immense calibre.

George Wood tried to usurp him but in truth was never good enough, but in John Lukic, we found a keeper capable of turning in match-winning performances.

That set the modern bar and when George Graham signed David Seaman, ironically Lukic's understudy at Leeds at one point, we enjoyed a decade of having one of the world's best goalkeepers between the sticks.

Every team needs a quality keeper, a specialist position where authority, decision-making and agility are all essential characteristics.

Even though he may have been getting on a little, Jens Lehmann showed much of the time that he was a worthy successor to Safe Hands, but can the same be true of Almunia?

The sad truth is, Almunia has never been good enough and even one as supportive as I can no longer defend the indefensible.

Almunia is so bad he makes George Wood look like Dino Zoff.

Taking the Liverpool match as an example, how many times did Almunia make the wrong decisions?

Whether it was kicking the ball out and gifting Liverpool possession or throwing it out and putting us back in trouble, Almunia seemed to put more pressure on the side than was necessary.

His decision to flap hopelessly at the free kick that led to Liverpool's goal proved once more how vulnerable he is and how easy a target he will continue to be for physical sides.

A minute into the second half and a cross came in and he punched weakly when a simple catch was there for his to make.

Does he really give the defence any confidence? How many of us wince whenever the ball comes his way, waiting for an error?

His demeanour is that of a rabbit with superglue on its paws stuck in the middle of a motorway waiting for its demise.

The fact is that Almunia is the worst goalkeeper of the so-called Big Four and worse that Brad Friedal and Shay Given from our biggest threats to a top four position.

Sadly, Lukasz Fabianski showed in the FA Cup semi-final that he too has a way to go to prove he's worth the number one slot, but I'd still prefer him to Almunia.

He looked good in Greece last week and cannot be as bad as the current incumbent.

It's time for a change, Mr Wenger.

Manuel Almunia must never play for Arsenal again.