By Avenell Dave
Just when Arsenal needed a commanding, assured performance from a goalkeeper seeking to stake his claim as a regular in the side, Lukasz Fabianski grabbed the headlines today for all the wrong reasons.
Given the financial constraints that Arsène Wenger is under, it’s hard to know what he can do now if this season is to be saved.
As we have seen for many years, he’s been selling gold and buying tin and unless something seriously changes then talk of £20m or £30m signings is simply never going to happen at Arsenal.
We sell M*nu Ad*b*y*r and buy no one, hoping to get Chamakh on the cheap and then being prepared to wait for him despite having one crocked forward (Eduardo), one injured-every-season striker (RvP) and some kids of varying ability (Theo, Vela and Bigheadtner).
When David Seaman started to wane, Wenger replaced him with Jens Lehmann, who cost only £1.5m. To be fair, the German was outstanding when he wasn’t being stupid but bargains like that are hard to find.
Manuel Almunia has proved himself not to be good enough and in the cases of both Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny, they’re probably too young and inexperienced to command a first team spot.
After last night’s performance, Fabianski may not be able to hide behind his age any more – while there was naivety in his performance, both Porto goals were gifts and based on incompetence rather than opposition skill.
Fabianski has a couple of years in the top flight in Poland (including goalkeeper of the year award) plus a number of full Poland caps, although playing for Poland and in his home country is not the same as playing for Arsenal in the Champions League.
If we end up losing to Porto, Fabianski will have almost single-handedly have lost us the FA Cup against Ch*vski last season, the FA Cup against Stoke this season and now the Champions League.
I’m all for giving players a chance but when you play for The Arsenal, especially in a specialist position where every mistake is costly, there are only so many chances you can get.
Manuel Almunia must be breathing a little easier today – last night’s showing suggests his Arsenal career may not be over after all, lamentably.
Gooners moan about not signing Shay Given, and it’s true that he would have been great for us, won us games and earned us points in a way we are simply not able to count upon at the moment.
But it’s important to remember that Given didn’t make it at Blackburn and was sold cheaply to Newcastle, where he established himself.
Seaman played for Leeds United, where he failed to usurp one John Lukic, then Peterborough and Birmingham City before showing his worth at QPR and getting a dream move when he was 27. No spring chicken.
So what DOES Wenger do now?
The only way Fabianski is going to regain his confidence and that of the fans is by playing some blinders and getting a run of games, but can we risk that?
The curious thing about last night’s game was that Sol Campbell trusted his keeper – something more regular defenders have learnt this season that we simply cannot do. That trust provide calamitous.
Vito Mannone may be the answer, but he too looks nervous, as any young keeper would, being thrown in, and while Szczesny has been getting rave review after rave review, the step up may be too steep at this point in his career.
Interesting to note that Szczesny is now included in the first team squad (and has number 53, one HIGHER than Bigheadtner), suggesting that he is considered capable enough.
If Wenger drops Fabianski, that is as good as signalling that his career is over – and from what I’ve heard, the Pole was a broken man on the flight home last night.
You can’t blame Cesc Fabregas for his harsh but honest comment either – our heads dropped after the second goal and we made basic mistakes. Who could blame him if he has had enough?
A word about the referee, who was a disgrace, allowing too many dirty fouls by Porto, failing to award a penalty and getting in Sol’s way when he allowed Porto’s quick free kick.
Thankfully, we have Sunderland on Saturday so it’s a great chance to forget about last night.
We got a vital away goal – but we’re still going to have to score twice at home to go through I fear.
All is not lost, but Le Boss has a lot of thinking to do in the next 48 hours.