By Walter Broeckx
There is a general feeling among Arsenal fans that Almunia is not good enough.
I am not going to say that Almunia is the best keeper in the world. Ask 100 people all over the world who is the best keeper in the world and you could end up with some 60 different names. So who is a good keeper and who not is a very difficult question to answer.
Is it Casillas ? Is it Buffon ? Is it Akinfeev ? Is it Cech ? Is it Vander Sar ? Is it… you can add a few names for yourself and I only like to ad names like Lloris, Palop, Given, Jaskulainen, even Gomez… We all can pick our favourite and name him the best.
But what is the difference between Almunia and all those other keepers ?
Well in fact the biggest difference is that we see Almunia play week in week out and the others we see… every now and then. If you see a player every week you always get to know him better and you also see the mistakes he makes. Add to this our passion for The Arsenal and it is obvious that every mistake a keeper from Arsenal makes is like a dagger in our hearts. As it mostly leads to a goal it is always painful to remember and we make a big fuss about it. It is because we care about The Arsenal and we don’t want to see any goal going in. So every mistake is hard to take and leads to criticism on our goalkeeper.
And yes Almunia makes mistakes. I will be the last to deny it. But I must say that as a former keeper myself I know how hard it is and how easy you can make a mistake and how painful when you concede a goal from your mistakes. It also gives me a bit more insight on what went wrong and what could be done better.
Every keeper has his own personality. Some are strong on their line, the shot stoppers. Some are commanding in the back area but are not as strong on the line. Some can take any cross and some don’t. Some could play along in the field and others are not good at kicking the ball at all. But goal keepers who are good at every part are rare and seldom to find. I actually don’t know anyone.
Now if we have to believe some fans Almunia never stops a ball. Maybe this is a bit exaggerated but we all have seen some people commenting like that on blogs. And most of them name any of the names mentioned above and command Wenger to buy his favourite goalkeeper.
Being a goalkeeper with Arsenal is one of the most difficult places in the team. You stand mostly in the cold for some 85 minutes looking at a game being played far away from your goal. You just have to stay focussed and try to keep warm for that sudden counter attack that comes your way or that high ball up in the air from the other goal keeper. If you have to stop 5 shots in a game you had a busy day. These are the most difficult games and I know this by experience. If you are constantly involved in a game and get a lot of shots the chance of you stopping most of them is very big. But when you have to stop only a few shots per game the chance that one goes in becomes bigger.
But how comes at the end of the day the other keepers look great and Almunia not ? The more you see a keeper the more chance you see him making a mistake. Do you really think that Casillas never makes a mistake ? Believe me he does. Do you think Buffon has magnets in his gloves and every ball ends up with him? No he doesn’t. Do you think Akinfeev never concedes a bad goal ? Believe me he does. I think we all have seen Van der Sar make a mess sometimes. We all can remember Cech being responsible for the exit of the Czech team.
But why don’t we remember these things ? Because we don’t care or even because we like it. If Casillas makes a mistake the chance of a Gooner seeing it is maybe around 0,1 %. And when we see it we note it and after the game we forget it as we don’t care that Real Madrid has lost because Casillas made a mistake. We even may like it and find it very funny. So we don’t have the same emotions that goes with it. If it happens to Arsenal we suffer. If it happens to Real Madrid, or Juventus we just don’t care in the same way.
So yes Almunia makes mistakes sometimes. Like all keepers make mistakes. If you would see all the games from Casillas (and I see a lot of them) then you would see that he is a great keeper and one of the best, but he also makes mistakes and even conceded in the Fabianski way during his career.
But now is the time to get behind the team and this also includes our goalkeeper, whoever it may be. Just let us get behind the whole team for the rest of the season and when the season is finished we will see who stays and who doesn’t. And maybe we could give credit when credit is due just like after the Sunderland game when Almunia kept a clean sheet on crucial stages of the game. He maybe isn’t the best in the world, but he isn’t the worst that’s for sure.
Rumours and stuff
John Terry is an awfully nice fellow with awfully nice friends. Having had an affair and messed with a team-mates girl, having lost the captaincy of England, having very serious problems going on in his own family involving drugs and other criminal offences, and having been caught selling trips around the training ground, you would think he might shut up. But it seems he might have encouraged friends to now spread nasty rumours about his ex-team mate. One wonders sometimes if he has any humanity at all.
Arsenal have made lots of money: £35.2m in six months in fact. While virtually every other club either hides its accounts overseas, or declares losses, Arsenal sail on through their own personal territory.
The long term debt is also down by £129.2m.
Rumour has it that supporters of other clubs will now attack Arsenal for being timid, or just interested in money not football, or being a selling club, or I dunno – anything. Doesn’t really work as an argument though.
Tottenham have cordoned off their training ground after several players contracted a virus. “It came as a shock to me,” said Carlos Kickerball. “It was horrible, all gnarled and slimey and made me throw up every few seconds.” Experts have said this is an outbreak of Redknappitis. “We thought we had it contained in the Portsmouth area, but it keeps breaking out and moving around. People do throw up a lot, and then tend to lose lots of money too, usually going into administration, after encountering the Rednap virus. If you feel it approaching, run like hell.”
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