Certainly over the years Arsene Wenger has been praised for his management skills, turning virtually unknown players into potential world beaters. However when it comes to the goalkeeping slot at Arsenal that Midas touch seems to have deserted him as he struggles to find a world class number one.
When Wenger took over from George Graham he inherited the trio of David Seaman, John Lukic and Vince Bartram. The undisputed king of the group by a country mile was Seaman who was also England’s number one at the time, but he was purchased by Graham and not Wenger.
Since 1996 the Frenchman has bought no less than 13 goalkeepers – Alex Manninger, Stuart Taylor, Graham Stack, Richard Wright, Rami Shaaban, Guillaume Warmuz (who?), Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, Mart Poom, Vito Mannone, Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny and James Shea.
It could be argued that the shining star among those was Jens Lehmann, but since his departure his predecessor Manuel Almunia has faltered on too many occasions and is without doubt a keeper far too prone to error.
People are more likely to remember your bad points as a goalkeeper and not your good ones which is why the Spaniard has been criticised vehemently on many occasions as has his understudy Lukasz Fabianski while third choice keeper Vito Mannone has also proved to be inconsistent but, that said, he hasn’t had as much first team experience as the others.
The only keeper that seems to be earning all the plaudits currently at Arsenal is 20 year old Wojciech Szczesny who spent most of this season on loan at League One side Brentford.
Wenger is undoubtedly on his side having said back in April: “I believe one day he will be the number one at Arsenal certainly.”
He should get a chance in my opinion, but there is also the opportunity for him to be loaned out once again, this time to Leeds, newly promoted to the Championship.
This would be another step up for the Polish international from League One this season, Championship next season and potential Arsenal Number One the season after?
Obviously that would mean another season of Almunia as the number one keeper. Would this be a gamble worth taking or would Wenger be better off splashing the cash on a top class keeper?
Title winning sides are built on solid defences and therefore goalkeeping blunders cannot be tolerated at this, the highest level of football. Bologna’s Emiliano Viviano, Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus, Hugo Lloris “closet Gooner” Joe Hart, or Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow) have all been named checked as being on the shortlist.
Arguably, Arsenal’s current crop of players are just two or three world class signings away from mounting a serious title challenge. Consequently, a goalkeeper should almost certainly be top of their priority list this summer because the clock is ticking and this conundrum must be solved very soon.