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August 2021

What you never see if you only watch Arsenal on TV: Jens2 takes a bow

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By Walter Broeckx

Living near Antwerp as I do I normally watch Arsenal on TV.  Which is why, when I do make it to the games I notice all the things that you just don’t see on TV.

At home you get to see all kind of replays when there is a stop for an injury or a foul and then you do not see what is happening on the pitch. So, being at the Villa game it was great to see a few things I usually never get to see at home.  Of course for the Gooners who go every day it might look familiar but for me it was special and I think it should be mentioned because it shows something that is mostly hidden for people who cannot attend games live at the Emirates.

In the first half after some 5 minutes Shay Given started his time wasting act for the first time. He was examining the ball for a few seconds. Inspecting the stitching, reading the instructions [“place boot here and apply force”] and that sort of thing. Then turning it around in his hands to see if there was anything else written on the ball [undoubtedly looking for the confirmatory note that “this is a ball” so he didn’t kick the wrong thing]. Then walking in slow motion to the place where he would put the ball down.   Then the grass inspection, the choice of the best blade, the removal of a speck of mud, a sudden slight gust of wind making him then move one yard to the left, a further check that it is still a ball and hasn’t been replaced by some other object when he wasn’t looking…  You never realise how much responsibility the keeper has until you sit in the stands behind him.

Next after placing the ball he stepped one yard away, studied if the grass was in the correct position like a golf player does when he has to put a ball. Then one step backwards. Then cleaning his left boot. One step backwards then cleaning his right boot. By then the crowd was jeering and even Dowd made a gesture to not overdo it.  Thanks Phil for doing that by the way.

Then he took a few passes backwards. Steadied himself for the kick, breathing in and out for a few times before actually running forward. I think the goal kick took as long as it took you to read this.

But the best part of it came in the second half. A rare Villa attack had resulted in a goal kick for Szczesny. And then Szczesny proved that he is not just one of the best youthful keepers in the world but also a real football lover and great fan and comedian. Because he did an impersonation of what Given had been doing from the start of the game. First he did a Lehman by letting the ball bounce against him and the board so it bounced at the wrong side of the board and the ball boy had to run back a bit.

Szczesny clearly had studied all the moves from Given and then he just did the same. I swear it’s the truth that he just did it like Given did it and took all the time in the world. I saw one of the Villa players making a gesture to Dowd at the time (I was curious to see if he would react as a ref of course) and I cannot be 100% sure but I had the impression that Dowd was smiling at him and looking with a facial expression telling him something like “come on this is a parody of Given his antics, just enjoy it”.

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That Szczesny moment of comedy was well worth the travel up to North London alone.

Other than that Szczesny was also great a few times showing how a keeper can have a great influence on the rest of the team. The first time when Albrighton escaped when Gibbs had gone forward a bit too much some fingers were pointed at Gervinho who clearly had the task to keep an eye on such things and run back when needed. Gervinho got some talk from a few players and Szczesny was shouting at him from his penalty area.

And when minutes later Gibbs went forward again this time Gervinho ran back, took the ball from Allbrighton and then was pushed away by the Villa player and the assistant signalled the foul. And this time Szczesny came rushing out of his goal and showed his appreciation for this great covering run from the left winger.

And he also did a similar thing in the second half when Djourou headed away a cross. Immediately he was there to pat Djourou on the back and encourage him to keep on doing as he was doing and to keep the concentration.

And also when Szczesny made a bad decision and gave a somewhat  dodgy ball to one of the defenders and Villa almost could become dangerous he was the first to apologise to this team mates and in particular to Vermaelen who was giving him and angry eye.

I sometimes wonder how frustrating it is to be an Arsenal keeper. You sometimes have almost nothing to do in the whole game and from my own experience I know those are the most difficult games to play. If the one ball comes when you are needed, you must be there. So it is most of all a thing about staying focused for the whole game and not let your concentration drop.

Well apart from that moment when he entertained me (don’t know about the rest if they noticed it) with that great moment of comedy in the Arsenal goal. Wojciech I really loved it.

What a remarkable young keeper. What a remarkable young man. What a great keeper. What a great Gooner!


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20 comments to What you never see if you only watch Arsenal on TV: Jens2 takes a bow

  • Arvind

    Ha Ha Jens2…hopefully for a good 10 years : )… Thanks Walter. Nice read.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Thanks for that. It is the ‘off beat’ things that make me regret living so far away.
    For similar reasons, when the team go into funny reminiscences, I enjoy more than the football chat … the ‘team’ in this instance is the Tuesday Club podcasters.
    It all adds to the pleasure of supporting this club.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for that Walter – nice.He does seem to be coming on nicely and is commanding at the set peices .
    @ Arvind – I ‘m thinking 20 years ,after hitting his peak in 15 years time !

  • legolas still trust Wenger

    Szczesny i love him i love him we were praying to have a new Gk who can replace Almunia and Than God we got the best a young Gk , a trueeeeeeeeeeeeee Gooner and a very good man outside the pitch. by the way After Given wasting time i am sure after Gibbs goal he regrets it 😀 . I hope we win against QPR and grab the 3 points I Love you Gunnnersssssssssss

  • Sunn

    Great article. There are many blogs/reports detailing, reporting and analysing the games. So refreshing to read a “behind the cameras, on the scene” observations.

    On our goalkeeper, who knows, it may well be that in years to come, Jens will be nown as Szczesny mark 1 !

    Cant wait for Wishire and Diaby to be fully fit – they can be awesome for the team. My main fear now really is complacency.And dreaded injuries.

  • hkm

    Nice column. Pleasure to read.

  • Asif

    Chessny is a lovable fellow…what strikes me about this guy is that he is a team man…he is a real joker! I am not sure if you have seen his videos on Arsenal where he took on Chamberlain, Frimpong and the likes on table tennis, he did a decent job at anchoring…he can make you laugh. You need such people in the dressing room…I love him!

  • Shard

    The thing I noticed about Szczesny is that he’s confident, he’s funny, AND he celebrates like he’s one of us..One of the fans. Who can forget his celebration last season against Barca. In the Newcastle match that I was at, after we scored the winner, we were all singing ‘The greatest team’ raising our hands, and Szczesny had his hands up as well. He was singing along with us (or so I like to think). A Gooner, and a real legend in the making, and a nice chap too

  • Love this guy! So happy he broke into the first team after seeing him loaned out to a smaller club (was it barnet?) lived up to his nickname (the cat, reference to Lev Yashin, the great russian keeper) and performing amazingly. Just goes to show that the experience in the lower leagues can be very beneficial. Great character and confidence too, All of the great Keepers I can remember have had a great personality, Schmicheal, Seaman, Khan, Casillas, Lehman (maybe a bit too much!). This man is the same.

    The same for alex song, there was no way that when he was loaned to Charlton I would have never imagined him as a first choice Midfielder, but…Wenger knows best.

  • Mahdain

    i really love this guy..a great goalie and a top gooner…i remember after the sunderland match in which king Henry scored he followed the away crowd and led them to start sing “the greatest team” chant..a top lad

  • bigiSMALLS

    nice chap…hope he kips improving. Tank God more true gunaz r playin 4 d team, pls mr Wenger less of barca nd man city fan in our dear team

  • Damien Luu

    I still remember a few years ago I have said on an Arsenal fans’ forum in my country that people need to know about a young GK with a very funny name in our youth rank. I also have said that Fabianski would need to keep his eyes on his younger compatriot if he wanted the No.1 shirt in Arsenal team one day. He obviously didn’t listen 😉

    But I have to admit that I did not expect Scz to grow up so quick and become our (beloved) No.1 at this time. Very, very long may he continue to be. I do truly love this boy as a player, as a person, and as a Gooner.

  • Dan T

    Nice article. This kid is a legend in the making. It’s great to see so much passion for Arsenal among the players these days. This has been seriousy lacking over the last few years but now we have a load of players who love Arsenal and have the passion of us fans for the club.

  • novicegooner

    Lovely ‘match report’, Walter. Thanks.

    Being an Indonesian, the only way I can enjoy Arsenal matches is by watching them on TV. Here, with my fellow Arsenal Indonesia Supporters, we have a regular communal screening for every Arsenal matches, be it live on TV or streaming. And believe me, the atmosphere during the screening is unbelievable. We’ll sing every Arsenal chants/songs during the game and even until after the game finishes.

    That’s the best part of my weekend.

  • Ong Bing

    Thanks God Wojciech is not mad like Jens, Jens is very good GK, I like him. But his anger is too much, I am not sure, my memory is not good, but I think in one game Jens makes us get a penalty because he wrestling or pushing opponent player when they have corner.

  • ak47

    great read thanx.

  • Damien Luu

    Boy, I have just watched the “Wojciech Versus” video on in which Wojciech went into the kitchen to compete with Rob the Chef. It gave me a very good laugh 😀 The guy is so funny, and obviously he loves this club.

  • Anne

    Loved this, Walter.

    I hope I get to see more live matches in the future, and this is definitely making me feel motivated to make it happen 🙂

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    The video about Jenkinson’s hairstyle on Arsenal player is well worth watching for some insight into our team spirit and funny too. I have no idea how Robin keeps a straight face.

  • FinnGooner

    Woolwich Peripatetic I loved it is was really funny and also I loved how it was “Special Report” like biggest crisis or problem at the club is Carl’s haircut. Then again maybe it is at the moment…
    RvP couldn’t watch at the camera most of the time, maybe that is how he didn’t laugh (or maybe they needed several takes and cut it).