Time to give Project Youth one last push, Arsene

By Avenell Dave

Hands up if you felt depressed at 6pm yesterday?

Yep, I think it's fair to say most Addicts thought that maybe, just maybe, Arsene Wenger would make it a clean sweep and address all the areas where Arsenal needed to strengthen this summer.

That the most important position that needed a new face, goalkeeper, was not addressed has brought out the worst in many Gooners I've seen commenting on blogs, texts and Twitter.

Did Arsenal believe that they would get Mark Schwarzer on the cheap? Did they not have a plan B?

We can but speculate. The truth is that, as far as Fulham has made out, we made two bids for him, one when Roy Hodgson was in charge and one with Mark Hughes as manager. Both were in the region of £2m and were rejected.

At 37 and the victim of a number of goal gluts at our hands for both Fulham and Boro, I've always had my doubts about Schwarzer as a significant improvement on what we have.

It was as much about having a new face as anything else, someone without the negative baggage our senior keepers have.

If it's true that we didn't bid again for him yesterday, that suggests we were either looking elsewhere or had decided to keep our cash.

It's easy to forget that paying off the capital debt overrides everything at Arsenal even if £5m on a quality keeper would have brought in more in terms of bums on seats, CL bonus payments etc.

Of course, Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Flapihandski both have challenges that they cannot overcome at Arsenal: the fans have lost faith in their ability to live up to the exacting standards expected of an Arsenal goalkeeper.

Both make unforced errors, both fail to command their box or organise their defence and both make questionable decisions that have cost us rather than won us points.

Look at that bunch down the road and you'd have to say that Almunia would probably be fourth choice and that underlines the problems we have.

Those idiots who now hope we do badly should take their ire and their bad will down the Seven Sisters Road and wish such ill on the north London team who deserve it most.

For the sane amongst us, we are in a quandary.

Can we seriously expect to win major prizes with Almunia in goal or Flapihandski between the sticks? It's not likely.

There were those who scratched their heads when George Graham dumped John Lukic, the first Arsenal goalkeeper in 18 yrs to play in a Championship winning team, for David Seaman.

It was about percentages and Graham knew that Seaman was that much better than Lukic. History proved him to be correct.

Wenger got it right with Jens Lehmann, even if he dumped him prematurely after a couple of mistakes.

That was Wenger at his most ruthless and it showed how tough he can be.

Flapihanski is simply not good enough and should be sent out on loan as soon as possible to get more experience and regain his confidence. And hopefully catch the eye of a new club.

As for Almunia, I think he's a decent guy who has conducted himself admirably in the face of his club looking to replace him.

May this be a spur for him to keep working and keep seeking to improve.

But if he doesn't, maybe this is a blessing in disguise - and Wojciech Szczesny should be given his chance to establish himself.

Wenger believes in Project Youth - now's his chance to prove it works once again.