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The season’s impression: Wojciech Szczesny

By Walter Broeckx

With the long hot (one can but hope) summer in front of us and with the long boring transfer rumour period upon us I thought this was the right moment to have a look back at the positions and players we have employed during the last season.

My take on their performances. My view on their progress and my hope for the next season.

So let us start with the Pole between the sticks: Wojciech Szczesny.

24 years old or should I say young. He came from Poland to Arsenal when he was 16. Played first for the youth teams and then had both his arms broken in a training incident when doing some lifts in the gym. Was loaned to Brentford at one stage to get some matches and enjoyed a great time there. Came back and after some ups and downs was handed the place in goal.

He played 37 matches last season and 9 European games but no domestic cup games.

Let us look at the stats first. 16 clean sheets. And that was as many as Petr Cech from Chelsea. And I do wonder how he will feel about not being in the team for the last match at Norwich. It would have been clean sheet number 17 and then he would have been the one and only winner of the Golden Glove.

In a way this shows that Wenger will first and foremost look at the team and what is needed for the team and isn’t bothered that much with individual trophies. His reasoning is probably that football is a team sport and that individual trophies are not that important.

Let me try to reason through this. Szczesny is a very confident young man and sometimes probably a tad over-confident. Or he can give that impression. So maybe Wenger thought that at the age of 24 he could still improve a bit and maybe if he would have won the golden glove now he might start walking on air.  And start thinking that he has nothing to learn any more and that he can relax.

So maybe Wenger wanted to prevent this and wanted to teach him that if he wants to win the golden glove he has to do better next season.

I think that Szczesny this season has proven that he is a keeper that is one of the best in the PL. I don’t really recall any big howlers from him where you can say this was completely his fault. In other words he was very reliable and that is something that is important for the team. To know that there is a keeper behind them that will not that easily throw away the lead you just have built up.

The few flaws he had in his game like sometimes rushing out at the wrong time has certainly improved. And the same can be said about his biggest weakness at times: the kicking the ball. In the past a lot of times he just kicked it out or miss kicked it or shot it against the opponents. I know it still has happened 2 times as far as I can remember but now it is more the exception than the rule. There were some moments that in the past you felt nervous when the ball was played to him. That has gone for me.

The longer the season went on the more he seemed to give the impression of being comfortable in goal. We had a few big defeats but I don’t think that we can put the blame on his door. He did what he could even though one can argue about one goal in some matches but those defeats were down to mistakes down the field and not to him.

And also after those defeats he didn’t look frightened in the next games. A big sign of maturity. The season before that he had a really bad spell and at one point Fabianski got in goal and Szczesny only could come back because of Fabianski getting injured.

His father moaned about it but Wojciech told him to shut up and realised that he had to work harder. And so he did. And as a result when he came back he looked a better keeper. Hence Wenger not wanting him to get overloaded with personal issues as I said before. You have to tickle him from time to time and make him realise that he has to work hard even when he has the number 1 shirt.

So I think that Szczesny has shown that he is a top keeper, mature and reliable. A keeper that can help a team to win points when needed. Remember a few narrow wins last season and also this season away from home when he was called upon and delivered what was needed.

Szczesny once said a few seasons ago that he wanted to become an Arsenal legend and wanted to play at Arsenal for the rest of his career. If he keeps playing like he did last season he might be on his way to become just that. And this would mean that we are having a keeper that can be here for the next 10 years or so. So no worrying for that spot from my part. Yes a good second keeper will be needed as Fabianski will leave but apart from 1 or 2 keepers in the world, I don’t really see any keeper that could be better than Szczesny for the moment for Arsenal.

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31 comments to The season’s impression: Wojciech Szczesny

  • Usama

    You are right Walter he can get a bit overconfident, I just hope he learns from the likes of David Seaman and keeps on improving and learn from his weaknesses. Because right now he is not in world cup and has plenty of time to relax and learn from his previous mistakes such as shot handling because this season we came close to concede from numerous rebounds.

  • John L

    im not entirely sure that we will sign another keeper. damian martinez is very highly rated within the game and is seen as a future starting GK for argentina.
    i could see him being pushed towards the first team with the possibility of another loan signing like viviano for cover.

  • Pete

    I agree that Szczesny has really improved this season – I certainly wouldn’t trade him for any other keeper in the Prem. And there is still plenty of potential to improve in front of him. However I DO still get nervous when he has the ball at his feet. I felt he was distinctly fortunate not to suffer a Boruc-type disaster on more than one occasion.

    As for Fab against Norwich, it seems obvious in hindsight that Wenger wanted to get him match sharp prior to the FA Cup Final (although I felt that Fab had a very poor game in the Cup Final – I suspect that Szcz might have saved both Hull goals, and very much doubt he would have made that kamikaze run in the final minutes…).

  • Gord

    Having accidentally stopped content yesterday in other threads, I did a little digging into goaltenders.

    Yes, Szczesny is young. But another keep most of us have heard of was younger (Peter Shilton was 16 when he started playing top level I believe). Not quite as tall as our Szczesny.

    Szczesny has 3 years on Damian, and is about the same height (I get Szczesny as 1 inch taller). Matt Macey is another year younger, Josh Vickers is yet another year younger, and then Deyan Iliev is two more years younger.

    Looking at a compilation of people in the Championship, that the Premier league teams are supposed to look at, had one keeper (Alex McCarthy at Reading), who is nominally the same age as Szczesny.

    Having just come off a bunch of loans, I don’t know that he would want to move, just to be a backup.

    Bringing Damian in makes more sense to me than picking up some younger goalkeeper in the Championship or below. The only other option which makes sense to me, si to pick up a goalkeeper towards the end of his career at a high enough level. I’ve no idea who is available. But, does a person then run into problems with the older goalkeeper conflicting with the goalkeeping coach?

  • Gord

    Pete

    I think the only way that kamikaze run gets avoided by whoever was in net, was if Per hadn’t of slipped. I don’t think the goalkeeper (Fabianski in this instance) had a choice. But maybe you seen some other way to have played that situation?

  • Gord,

    I am with you. If anyone should be blamed it should be Per. I don’t want to blame anyone as they all did their best on the way to and in the final match itself. I have no idea how Szczesney would have saved those 2 goals. I think a player on the right side of our post would have definitely prevented the 1st goal just as Gibbs prevented the 3rd.

    Fabianski’s great performance got us through the early part of the Liverpool game at the Emirates while his heroics got us through the semi-final. I don’t really get Pete’s scapegoating of the guy. I am sad that he is leaving but I wish him only the best in his career wherever he goes.

  • Pete

    I am not scapegoating Fab – thought he was outstanding through the rest of the run and I, for one, was pleased he was selected for the final. Just saying it as I saw it.

    With the Hull goals, both shots were travelling very slowly and I felt Fabianski could have reacted a little more sharply. To clarify on the 2nd, the header was travelling very slowly – obviously the goal itself wasn’t.

    But I still maintain that both goals were exceptionally unlucky. We didn’t do a huge amount wrong on either of them. Still, to come back from 2-down made it even more special!

    Regarding the kamikaze run, Per slipped – it happens. But it looked fairly clear to me that Kos would have got back in time to at least have ensured the shot was from a narrow angle. The guy was right on the touchline.

  • Gord

    Fair enough Pete. Does anyone know if Fabianski was yelling instructions to Koscielny? My TV volume was nearly off (commentards were too annoying), so I couldn’t tell.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Someone mentioned Illiev. The news today in Belgium is that KV Mechelen are trying to sign Illiev from Arsenal. He might be leaving us. But still under contract so maybe just a season loan or selling with a buy back clause/sell on

  • menace

    I don’t think there were any instructions. It was instinct to run out and attempt to defend a situation that was not expected. We were lucky that the shot was not accurate and Gibbs missed the ball. The disappointment is that Fabianski’s contract was allowed to lapse. The contracts department seem to be very poor at their job.

  • BILL FROM MANHATTAN

    I wouldn’t swap Szczesny for any other goalkeeper in the premiership. Take in account we surrendered twenty three of forty one goals allowed in five of our matches, That means that our Pole allowed just eighteen goals in his other thirty two games. That is world-class goalkeeping, Coupled with the fact that he’s only twenty four years old and gonna get better means our club doesn’t have to worry about the goalkeeper position for the next ten to twelve years at least. Lets not forget that goalkeepers can play at the top level in some cases into their late thirties or even in their early forties. P.S. This is one of my few posts without a few well placed expletives. Enjoy the G rated post. HA HA HA !!!!

  • menace,

    “The contracts department seem to be very poor at their job.”

    Really? How’s that? When players determined to move there isn’t much anyone can do about it. While I wish he stayed, I understand why he needs to move.

    I find it funny when Arsenal fans complain about Fabianski leaving and how he should have been put on a longer contract. How long ago when the poor fella was ‘dead wood’ who wasn’t fit to wear the shirt? Imagine the uproar from those calling Flappy-hand-ski a few seasons ago if they got the news that his contract was extended?

    Let’s just wish the guy all the best wherever he goes because to be fair, he is too good be sitting on the bench.

  • Gord

    Arsenal.com is running a year end review of the loanees.

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20140528/season-review-arsenal-s-loanees

    In terms of Szczesny, the highlight is that Damian shutout ‘Arry in a 3-0 win.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Walter,
    I believe that our coach wanted Fabianski to play against Norwich so to have actual game time before the final; had Fabianski faltered, WS would have been playing the final.
    Also, Cech getting a share of the spoils is justice, and our coach may be showing some more class here by allowing Cech indirectly a share of the Golden Fleece or Glove; by the way, Mourinho would have never done that. Wink, wink, classy people get this; and Cech is one of the few classy people at Chelsea; low and behold, some are not even good for human consumption by non-vegetarians: ask Bitey Suarez about Meaty Ivanovic.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m just glad that Szczesny has progress through the ranks from his time with us ans has finally come good .Do hope he remains with us for the long haul and does become an Arsenal legend .
    I sleep easy knowing that the goal is indeed in safe hands .It would be nice if we promote one of our own from the ranks as his number two .
    As like the others , I too would like to wish Fabianski all the best in his quest for more fame and fortune . He has served as well and will always be remembered fondly .

  • Sammy The Snake

    There aren’t many better GK at his age. All the great GK of the world are over 30, except maybe for Courtois (Atletico/Chelsea GK). We have a great future in GK department.

  • nicky

    If Arsene considers Martinez has a future at Arsenal, he should be promoted to be No.2.
    It will be difficult anyway to recruit an experienced goalie prepared to be benched most of the season.

  • oldgroover

    Agree with all the commenters, we have a future world class keeper, who now needs good quality back up. Where are the Stuart Taylor’s & Richard Wright’s when you need them? People who are content with being career No.2’s. I see it’s confirmed that Fabianski has joined Swansea, so good luck to him and to Sanga wherever he ends up.

  • para

    Szczesny is boss. It is better for him to be a little over confident, with AW there to reign him back when necessary, than for him to lose confidence.

    I hope he realises his dream of becoming a legend at Arsenal too.

    Ride on Szczesny.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Only reason why I feel Mr Wenger opted not play Szczesny in the Norwich game is to keep him grounded.

  • bjtgooner

    Szczesny is an excellent keeper and should be our number one for quite some time. He is certainly confident and should continue to improve.

    This morning SSN have reported that Fabianski has signed a four year deal with Swansea, commencing 01 July. Consequently the debate on who should be our second keeper will come to the fore. I have not seen enough of Martinez to comment on his readiness for that position.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The trouble with being a No2 keeper is that at any time you are only one moment away from being the No1. Whilst Martinez is an able keeper I don’t believe that he could be regarded as a No1 yet, as a back up with Szcz fit he should be OK but I see him more as a No 3 at the moment. AW of course will make the final decision and has all of the data to enable him to get or right. I wouldn’t be surprised at a keeper coming in from outside the club though.

  • Shard

    I think szczesny has been fantastic this season. Easily among the best keepers in the league. He won us points with spectacular saves against Tottenham and Crystal Palace (I’m sure there were more)

    I think when we played against Bayern Munich we saw the difference between Szczesny and Neuer. Szczesny is very good, but Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world right now. The thing is, I think Szczesny can reach that level. Just needs to keep working hard and improving.

    On Fabianski and the FA Cup final. I thought it proved to be the ‘wrong’ decision to play him. While none of the goals we conceded were his fault, I thought Szczesny might just have commanded his box a bit better, and might even have reacted a bit quicker to the first goal and maybe not jumped in the net on the second, if for no other reason than his height advantage.

    Ironically, having watched it again, I thought Fabianski’s mistake actually saved us from conceding when Mertesacker slipped. If he hadn’t come out of his goal, I think the player would have passed to his teammates and it was likely that our defenders wouldn’t have been able to stop them (or worse, do something stupid like earn a red card) As it is, Fab coming out meant that the striker felt he had to go for goal, which turned out well for us. It was still an error, but I thought it went in our favour.

  • colario

    I think Fabianski is a top GK. His problem initially was his nerves, which seem to get the better of. Then came Szczney.
    I wish Lucas the very best and thank him for his loyalty to Arsenal. He more then deserved his FA cup medal.

  • John

    I agree that Fabianski is top class. I also agree that his dash out of goal in the Cup Final was the only correct action for him to take. Although he did not arrive in time to take the ball, he did enough to put off the Hull player and therefore prevented a goal. Also, don’t forget his full length reflex save from an unsighted position in the very last minute of the match. Class!

    Sorry he’s going, but he deserves to play regularly. I wish him well.

  • Gord

    It’s official, Fabianski is off to Welsh’er pastures at Swansea.

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20140529/fabianski-set-to-join-swansea-city

    Best of luck at Swansea!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Good luck to him at the Swans .

  • Mandy Dodd

    He has all the makings of a great….confident, yes, that was a very naughty selfie…..maybe a bit eccentric….like many of the best keepers. He is young enough to get better.
    He has always had the ability to make miraculous saves….against udinese….and for Poland against I think Germany immediately spring to mind, but he is improving in other areas this season, including distribution.
    Glad we have him and looking forward to watching the progress of a future Gooners legend. And one who will be very hungry for his first trophy….with him playing that is.
    Also, good luck and thanks Fabianski.

  • Sav from Australia

    Woj is good and getting better. And he loves the club. But he’s not at the very highest tier. Cech has been the most consistently excellent keeper in the EPL for many years and the only one I have seen on his level in recent years in the EPL is Van Der Saar. I think we can count atruly great keeper as one who saves points and does not make mistakes throughout the season. Our young Pole has not made many mistakes this season. I am sure he is training hard to reach his full potential.

  • Pat

    The press hasn’t said much about the Golden Glove. Maybe it’s because an Arsenal goalie was joint winner. Or because neither of the winners was English. Anyway, congratulations to both of them. I’ve always liked Cech – he seems a fair and decent bloke.

  • Damilare

    Had chelski not packed the bus most of their games, Szczney would have been undoubtedly the only golden glove winner last season.

    Food for thought for the ‘buy-buy-buy’ mob, Viviano did not kick a ball throughout the season. That’s how good our squad was. So don’t raise your hopes too much on many transfer activities this summer. We might see One or two players coming.