Vito Mannone - An Apology

By Avenell Dave

It's fair to say that Vito Mannone hasn't filled Gooners with a load of confidence since he started player for the first team this season.

After failing to make an impression at lowly Barnsley, it's fair to say many of us feared he would join the long line of goalkeepers from Alex Manninger, Richard Wright, Rami Shabaan and even Mart Poom who just aren't quite good enough for the Arsenal.

I'd be interested to hear what Addicts think about Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski as well.

My feeling is that Almunia, having never been discovered in his homeland, is not going to be good enough for Arsenal in the long term.

Fabianski? Well, he make a couple of monumental mistakes against Ch*vski in the FA Cup semi final but given his senior international recognition by Poland, even with their impressive crop of goalkeeping talent and pedigree for developing exceptional goalkeepers, suggests that he could well become the long term answer.

Back to Mannone and it's fair to say that he has looked scared stiff in his early performances and almost made us wish for Almunia to be fit.

I said to my fellow Addicts at the time of th Liege game, though, that while being beaten at your near post is never pretty, the power and accuracy of the shot which led to the home side's first goal was the type even the very best goalkeepers have the capacity to concede.

As for the penalty, well, that's just a lottery.

David Seaman had spent years in the lower leagues at Leeds, Peterborough and Birmingham before finally coming to the attention of the bigger clubs when he was at QPR.

I remember him single-handedly denying us a goal in the FA Cup and that, apparently, is what made up George Graham's mind to buy him.

And how old was David Seaman when he got his big break? 27 years old.

For every Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, there is a Ben Foster, who shows promise but also makes mistakes, as we have seen at M*nure so many times lately.

Vito Mannone is just 21 years old and has a long long career ahead of him, learning, making wonder saves, and as with every goalkeeper, making mistakes which cost the team dear. That's the nature of being a goalkeeper.

For Arsene Wenger to single him out and give him ten out of ten for Saturday's performance shows how impressive he was, because Wenger simply doesn't like to break from the team ethic.

Despite Thomas Vermaelen's great form since his arrival, it's fair to say that the defence andthe protection of the goal by the entire team needs some work.

If you don't concede goals, you don't lose matches. Simples.

Some of the saves may have been more about luck than judgement, but Mannone did us proud on Saturday and I hope the performance gives him the confidence to grow and relax, to realise he really can be the our Number One.

I admit I have doubted him, and for that, I apologise. He can be great - time will tell if he gets to that level.

In the meantime, bask in the glow of Saturday, Vito, and keep working hard to maintain that form and retain your place.

Auguri, portiere - hai fatto una partita meravigliosa!