By Tony Attwood
Lukasz Fabianski will leave Arsenal in the summer, to pursue the first team football that his recent Arsenal performances deserve. It’s a shame, but that’s how it goes. No team manages to keep two top keepers long-term.
He’ll be one of many players to have left in recent years for a wide variety of reasons. Sebastian Squillaci was always a filler, Marouane Chamahk had awful personal problems that only came to light after he left, Andrei Arshavin started so wonderfully, but then faded away as the crowd turned on him – a terrible shame.
Fabianski is different; he leaves in good form, still contributing to the first team, and his stocks with the fan base at an all time high.
Yes, the morons of the AAA were against him a few years back, with a childish nickname and the abuse that is their speciality, but this season in the cup he has been superb. Remember Liverpool, and in the penalty shootout against Wigan?
His performances have befitted a starting goalkeeper and no reasonable Arsenal fan begrudges Fabianski for his choice to leave, but unless he changes his mind in the next month (and in doing so, accept his role as a back up to Wojciech Szczesny) there are still some who argue he must not start in the FA Cup final.
Those who argue against Fabianski in the cup final quote the “trophy drought” without bothering to check Arsenal’s history, or mention when Man U last won the cup, when Liverpool or Tottenham last won the league, and so on.
There are even some who suggest that the lack of success has affected the players, but the evidence is that for the most part it is the allure of going home (Cesc) or a pay packet reaching well past one’s sell by date (RVP) that has been the problem. If anything has affected the players it is the AAA.
There has even been talk that because we’ve been defeated by the oil clubs, Liverpool and Everton, things are still not right, forgetting that it is because of Arsenal that we won’t be hearing scousetalk at Wembley this year, and because of injuries to the triumverate of Ozil, Theo and Aaron that we slipped. Bring one of them back and we recover. Bring two back and we take control.
This lack of success has not only affected Arsenal fans, but also the players themselves. The weight of pressure on the current group of Arsenal players to deliver success has been great. Many fans saw the capture of Mesut Ozil as a defining moment, a sign that Arsenal was back in the big league.
The 2014 FA Cup final won’t be a formality for Arsenal as per football betting odds at Betfair the truth is that none of us will take anything for granted.
The effect of an FA Cup victory would be transformative; a catalyst for future successes. But at the same time it would just send the journalists and their AAA camp followers looking for a new way to knock Arsenal. Remember the “50 red cards under Wenger” drivel – such stories after generally untrue, and always done without comparison. (Although it was amusing this week to have the Telegraph get carried away with the “worst in living memory” slagging off of Moyes at Man U. Check the facts guys – cos if you don’t we will).
So it isn’t really true that players that were once apprehensive, nervous and unsure of themselves on the games biggest stage would be liberated of the pressure that the nine-year trophy drought has put on every Arsenal player. In fact that is gibberish. The pressure comes from the AAA fellow travellers and the media with its instant “who cares about research” stories.
Arsenal can afford to exclude Szczesny from the final, and leave him on the bench, because of a quite different reason: honour.
Arsenal do things their way, and their way includes that rare commodity in football, being honourable. Fabianski got the nod as the cup goalkeeper. Removing the prize for great performances is not what we should be doing.
Tomorrow is the day for picking up cup final tickets. The start of the return journey. I hope Fab. is going to be on the pitch for the event.