Can Arsenal afford to have a joker in the pack?

By Avenell Dave

I was told by a Brentford fan a couple of years ago that Wojciech Szczesny was worthy of being Arsenal's goalkeeper for years to come. From the moment he started playing in the first team last season, everyone sensed he has something about him that makes him different.

Where the hapless Manuel Almunia showed nerves and a lack of ability time and again, Szczesny has shown himself to be as cool customer.

It was fascinating to see yesterday's press conference where he showed his cheeky side yet again and I can't help feeling that when morale was low earlier in the season, the Pole would have helped raise everyone's spirits both through banter and brilliance.

His performances this season has been solid and steady without being spectacular. But at this stage of his development, that's good enough for me.

His biggest rival as a young number one in England is Joe Hart at Citeh and it's easy to forget that he served his apprenticeship at Shrewsbury and then Brum before making the jump to the big time.

Szczesny has put on two of his best displays in Germany this season as well.

He had to be immense against Dortmund when they threw everything at us, while his performance for Poland against Germany was hailed by everyone as superb.

But let us not forget the almighty ricket he was involved in at Wembley when he and Laurent Koscielny's mix-up lost us the game.

There are moments even now when he rushes out (Ch*vski) or tried to use his footwork skills to dance around an onrushing attacker which often leave the heart in one's mouth.

One of these days he will get caught out and it will be costly.

It's good to hear how much he analyses his performances - and you can see how his kicking has improved since last season.

Hopefully Jens Lehmann passed onto him the importance of watching your opponents - it earned him many a penalty save after all.

Thankfully, Dortmund have to attack tonight and that will work in our favour, leaving gaps for us to exploit.

With the Theo-RvP combination working so well, I have a feeling that there may be a little more space for Gervinho and the Ivorian needs to kick on after some misses against Norwich. I have a feeling he'll score tonight.

We could finish tonight's game needing to win our last match to have any hope of finishing top or, if results go our way, we could have a relaxing final game with nothing much at stake.

RvP will probably be rested on Saturday, so I expect him to be as hungry as ever but winning the midfield battle will decide the game.

Mikel Arteta and Alex Song need to be solid at all times and I fancy Per Mertesacker to have a stormer.

Addict XI
Szczesny
Koscielny Mertesacker Vermaelen Santos
Arteta Song Ramsey
Walcott RvP Gervinho